Etiquette for College Freshmen

Make sure your first year of college is not only a blast, but also handled properly … and yes, they aren't exclusive of one another.

Richie Frieman
6-minute read
Episode #353

Dear Class of 2019,

Currently, millions of you are entering your first year of college as freshmen. Congratulations! Even though college is an amazing time in your life, the first few days, weeks, or even months can be rather nerve-racking, since you’re thrust into a new environment without the comforts of home. I’ve been there and I feel ya.

With such a dramatic change, many people will do things way out of their comfort zone—both good and bad—to make connections, find their niche, and fully embrace college for all that it’s worth. However, when taking leaps “to find your way,” you have to make sure you’re approaching your first year of college properly. So, check out my top three quick and dirty tips for College Freshmen Etiquette.

Tip #1: You Know Nothing, Jon Snow

“You know nothing Jon Snow!” is a line from the hit show Game of Thrones geared towards the star, which has since become a classic one-liner to stop people short when they believe their way is the only way. In the show, Jon Snow thought he had all the answers, when in fact, he couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I think about that quote when dealing with certain attitudes about venturing off to college as a freshman. Mainly that who you were in high school will automatically resonate with your new college life—be it positive of negative. Trust me, if you think that being king or queen of your high school means you’ll equally dominate at a collegiate level, then you are in for a major wake up call, my friends. Same thing goes if you were a "small fish in a big pond" from grades 9-12—that also means nothing. See, college is a time to find yourself, or better yourself, and whatever happened last year will not cross over into college.

It’s highly improper to believe your reputation will follow you into your freshman year. Why? Well frankly, college is a numbers game. You’re going from maybe a few hundred kids in your class at most, all of which came from the same area and a similar background, to the college level, that has a massive population of differing ages, cultures, backgrounds, and skill set.  So to quote the great American poet, Ice Cube, “You better check yo self, before you wreck yo self.” If you think your college peers will tolerate your shenanigans like your high school circle did, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. But let me be clear: I’m not saying you have to change who you areNOT at all! I’m simply stating that it’s improper to believe new people have to bend to your ways because you feel entitled based on your past. You may have been the hottest thing in high school, but there are kids from thousands of high schools now who all thought the same thing. So you have to face the fact that you may not be the best looking anymore, the smartest in the class, the best athlete on the field, or the geekiest … and that’s okay, folks. That's life. The proper way to approach your freshman year is to have an open mind, challenge yourself, and properly asses what you want out of college … and believe me, being “cool” isn’t necessarily the main goal.

Tip #2: Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

We all know this saying, and I'm pretty sure you know where I'm going with this. Bottom line, in your personal and professional life, it’s improper (and rather delusional) to judge a book by its cover. When you get to college, your immediate urge will be to find your “crowd," the group of people that you feel the most comfortable with and can relate to.  You’re not alone in thinking this because everyone is thinking the same thing. However, to find that “clique,” many people go searching for the exact same life they had before college; people that dress the same, look the same, come from a similar background, etc. In a college setting that “logic” as a measuring stick for friends will not always translate the way you planned.  When you judge a book by its cover, you make these gut calls solely on presumptions, rather than truly getting to know someone. In doing so, you narrow your social circle, and put on a cap on how high your social ceiling can go.