Here are some life lessons, as well as common mistakes you will probably encounter at some point. While no one expects you to do it perfectly, you can streamline your experience by following these tips and tricks from a sort-of successful college grad.
1. Go to class. This is the precursor to don’t drop out. While graduation may seem light years away, if you take too many powder days, it will be light years away.
2. Watch the cash flow. Audit your bank statements once a month and see how quickly those $4 lattes add up. Be frugal.
3. The Freshmen 15 is real. Although the dining halls are a mind-boggling array of unlimited food, parking yourself at the Belgian waffle station every morning is not the way to go. Everything in moderation.
4. Use campus resources. Stay organized, attend study sessions, and actually open that $200 textbook. Administrators, advisors, and counselors aren’t there for decoration—use these and other on-campus resources for advice and career guidance.
5. Get involved. Being engaged in campus activities is a great way to meet new people. Dorm activities, clubs for every interest, and MSU Rec. Sports all bring people together in a fun setting. Many of these are funded by your mandatory student activity fee anyway.
6. Be street smart. Bozeman is a safe town, but situations change when alcohol is involved. Ride the Streamline Bus (it’s free and has a late-night service), watch out for your friends, keep an eye on your drink, and know your limits. Ladies, be especially careful on campus after dark.
7. Use discretions with social media. There’s no need to photograph every dance move and share every thought as soon as it occurs to you. There are plenty of Facebook-fail websites out there—don’t be the next featured post.
8. Find a spot for homework and set aside time. Dorm rooms can be distracting when your roommate won’t stop rehearsing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for karaoke night. There are plenty of quiet nooks and crannies in the Renne Library.
9. Stay in contact. Just because you don’t live with your family anymore doesn’t mean you should drop off the grid for the entire first semester. Your family will appreciate a call once in a while, or a picture-text from your first trek up the M trail.
10. Finally, get outside! Hiking, biking, skiing, boating, climbing—you didn’t decide to attend MSU for the classroom alone. Southwest Montana’s outdoor activities are like the dining hall buffet—unlimited, exciting, and easily accessible. As a bonus, it won’t expand your waistline.