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The summer before freshman year pretty much looks the same for everyone who’s heading off to college: going to what seems like hundreds of grad parties, saying goodbye to high school friends, and spending hours dorm-shopping at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.
Even though you have three months to prepare, nobody tells you what to actually expect your first week, because every college does things differently. Once orientation ended and I finally got the hang of things, I remember thinking, “I wish someone had told me this before I got here.”
So in order to help you out, I am passing on my knowledge:
1. Don’t overpack. If you’re like me, you’ve already read a billion and one “What to Bring to College” BuzzFeed articles. Well, let me tell you what not to bring: too many clothes. Your room probably won’t be big enough to fit your whole wardrobe, and you’ll likely end up wearing the same five outfits throughout the semester anyway. Just bring the basics, and you’ll be fine.
2. Do bring some winter clothes—it starts to get cold in October! If you don’t plan to go home until Thanksgiving break, make sure to bring at least a couple of sweaters and a winter jacket with you.
3. During my move-in week, everyone was advised to wait until after orientation to decorate their rooms (“Don’t worry, you’ll have the whole semester to do it!”). But honestly, if it will make you feel comfortable and more at home, take the extra hour and do it anyway. Then you can flex your room pics on Insta just like everyone else.
4. Not all of the orientation events are mandatory, even if they seem like they are. If you are exhausted or are hanging out with a new group of friends, it is totally OK to skip an event! Just make sure to find out which events are mandatory so you don’t get off on the wrong foot.
5. That being said, move-in week is the only time all of the freshman will be forced to hang out together, so take the opportunity to meet as many people as possible! Even though some of the orientation events may seem awkward, think of them as opportunities to learn more about the school and to make friends outside of your major.
6. Take advantage of the add-drop period. This wasn’t something I started to do until sophomore year. If the class doesn’t suit you and you don’t need it, talk to your adviser. You have four years at Arcadia, which gives you plenty of time to choose, switch, or finish your major. Don’t stress too hard over your college “plan,” especially during your first semester.
7. Put Public Safety’s number in your phone right away. Most likely you’ll need to call them throughout the semester, whether you are locked out, have to jump-start your car, want a walk back to your residence hall at night, or need them to help a sick friend (hey, it’s college, it happens). If you’re an incoming student, do yourself a favor and jot it down: 215-572-2999.
8. Get off campus. Arcadia is great, don’t get me wrong, but one of the best parts of Arcadia is the surrounding area! Truth be told, Arcadia is a small school, and there won’t always be hundreds of events going on like there are during move-in week. That doesn’t mean you should stay in your room and binge-watch Netflix all weekend. Grab some friends and head out to Keswick or do a day trip in Philly. Some of my best memories from Arcadia happened to have been off campus, exploring the city.