10 commandments of college

Nicole Lunger is a freelance storyteller specializing in multimedia journalism. She recently graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism with an emphasis in Convergence Photojournalism. Now living in Chaska, Minnesota, Nicole works as a writer, photographer, videographer, designer and social media strategist.

Your alarm clock goes off at 6:30 a.m. It’s Friday morning and you’re a little hung over after the best “Thirsty Thursday” of your life. You hit snooze. The alarm sounds again at 6:45. You think to yourself, “I still have plenty of time to get ready, eat breakfast and check Facebook before heading over to my 8 a.m. statistics class. 5 more minutes won’t hurt.” Snooze again. 7:00 a.m. and you remember you have an assignment due in class that you totally forgot to finish last night. You throw off the sheets and step down from the top bunk careful not to wake your sleeping roommate. You put on your flip flops and head to the community bathroom for a shower. Time is ticking, and you realize there is no time for breakfast, so you tackle the homework over a yogurt and dash out the door by 7:50. Catching your breath, you sneak into the lecture hall only to find no one is there. You suddenly recall that email your professor sent you yesterday about changing the location for today’s class. Luckily your campus has free wifi, so you check the email on your phone and pull up a campus map. By the time you find the right place you’re 15 minutes late, but you’ve made it just in time for your professor to inform everyone that the homework assignment will not be graded. Classic college moment.

Now, this situation could have been much worse if you hadn’t been aware of these 10 College Commandments . . .

1. Make sure you have a reliable alarm. If you are a heavy sleeper, set two alarms. A lot of classes are only offered early morning, so you cannot always schedule around those 8 a.m. classes.
2. Keep a stash of breakfasts-on-the-go. You don’t want to get in the habit of skipping the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is one of the surest ways to keep a healthy weight and avoid the Freshman 15. If you have time, the dining halls will usually provide some pretty nice meals with omelets, cereal and pancakes for breakfast.
3. Buy shower shoes. Wearing flip flops in the community bathrooms will protect you from all sorts of mysterious bacteria brought in by your fellow dorm-mates.
4. Download your college’s app. Most schools will have their own phone app with a campus map, dining hall schedules, administration information, student events and more. You never know when a professor is going to get creative, and you’ll have to meet in a new location for class. Or they may hold office hours across campus in a different building. It helps to have a trusty guide for the unexpected.
5. Make sure you connect to your your campus wifi before the first day of classes. Ask the tech squad if you need help with this.
6. Do your homework, just in case. Even if it’s not graded, it will be great preparation for the quizzes and tests that will determine your GPA. Take school seriously. The smart students know when to have fun and when to focus on their academics.
7. If you’re late to class, try not to make a big deal about it. A loud entrance marked by a tardy will likely turn heads in a lecture hall, and you don’t want your professor to call you out in front of everyone. Some teachers will do it, even in the big lecture halls. Just quietly grab a seat in the back.
8. Know your professor. Some would rather you walk in late than skip class, while others will quickly get annoyed with tardy students and ask that if you can’t be there on time, you simply not show up at all.
9. Bunk your beds. It will save so much space in your little dorm room.
10. Check your student email regularly — at least daily. You don’t want to miss out on anything because you didn’t read your email.

This situation could have also played out a lot better if …

1. You hadn’t stayed out so late on a Thursday night. Your friends may lure you into going out with them on “Thirsty Thursday,” but if you have an early class the next day, you may want to avoid the risk of feeling hung over or just too tired for class. The weekend is only 24 hours away.
2. You drank responsibly. It’s not a sin to be social on a school night, but don’t forget — if you not 21, it is illegal to drink alcohol. Chose soda or water. College are some of the best years of your life and you don’t need beer to have fun.
3. You had a friend in class. Making friends, or at least acquaintances, in class will help you stay accountable for keeping up with the coursework. You can help each other study, share notes if someone misses class, and remind one another when the professor sends out important emails.
4. You hadn’t saved your homework for the last minute. Procrastination is always a risky decision. College is a good time to learn how to prioritize your life.
5. You weren’t in a rush to get to class. You may have been more clear minded and remembered to the email your professor sent about moving class.
6. You had a bike. Or skateboard. Walking is great exercise, and probably the most popular mode of transportation on many campuses, but investing in wheels will definitely provide you with a quicker route to class.
7. You remembered that your students loans aren’t going to pay themselves. If you’re ever at a loss of motivation to attend class, remember that the surest way to make money after graduation is getting a job. And that’s going to require a college degree. And a college degree is worth more with a higher GPA. It’s just simple logic.
8. You had fought for the bottom bunk. This one probably won’t make much of a difference, but if you can help it, avoid sleeping on the top all semester.

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