College advice your mom won’t give you

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The Daily Illini Photo File

Illinois football fans play a drinking game during a tailgate before the Homecoming game against Wisconsin on Oct. 9. Managing editor for reporting, Gwyn Skiles, provides 10 tips when it comes to unique situations freshman can experience.

By Gwyn Skiles, Managing Editor for Reporting

“Don’t do drugs, don’t walk alone and study hard” are words of wisdom most incoming students hear from their parents before their first semester at college.

When August rolled around, I pretty much had that down, but there were other situations that my peers and I weren’t prepared for. This is a list of 10 tips to help you navigate situations unique to campus life at the University.

1. Your teacher’s assistant will see you on Tinder

While it might be hilarious to discover the well-dressed mentor you see every Thursday posing in front of mirrors with their lips pursed in a smirk and biceps flexed, just know they can see your photos too. So, if you choose to use dating apps, maybe think twice before putting “down to smoke” in your bio.

2. C’s really do earn degrees

The Illini experience isn’t just about basketball games and bar crawls. You’ll find yourself sitting in a lecture hall learning about subjects you’ve never studied. It’s important to put your best effort into all your classes, but if you worked hard and sought help, ending the semester with a C is something to be proud of.

3. ‘The freshman 15’
is foul

It can be difficult to navigate dining halls and exercise when you first come to the University. But no matter how much your mom warns you about “the freshman 15,” constantly watching your calories is way less healthy than having a yummy dessert. Do what makes you feel good, whether it’s eating a bag of Cheetos or going for a walk.

4. Memorize your cool aunt’s phone number

In case you need to get bailed out of a difficult situation or need someone whom you feel comfortable being vulnerable around, you should know a trusted person’s contact information. No matter the preventative measures you take, accidents happen and mistakes are made. A little bit of insurance can’t hurt, whether it’s your aunt or a trusty friend.

5. You don’t look attractive, you look cold

When walking down Green Street in the middle of January, lines of people wearing shorts and crop tops can be found outside of the bars. But before you leave your dorm in your best summer outfit, think about how it will feel writing that essay you have due next week while battling pneumonia.

6. Kiss a girl and see if
you like it

A lot of the college experience is figuring out what you like and don’t like: whether it’s exploring your sexuality or discovering you don’t like seltzers as much as wine. It’s worth it to explore, even if you might make mistakes along the way.

7. Four Loko night isn’t fun the next morning

Sure, one drink with the alcohol content of four drinks sounds like a good way to get drunk fast. But look out, because if you can’t remember last night and you’re miserable in the morning, Four Loko night might not have been the best idea.

8. Neighbors hear everything

Living in a dorm is an adventure in itself, but some adventures can wait until you live somewhere more soundproof. If you think that guy who lives down the hall is staring at you weirdly the next morning, he probably is. The walls in every residence hall are thin and news travels fast.

9. Get a gadget

Window poppers, alarms, pepper spray and cup covers are all legal tools to help you protect yourself. Even if you’re walking with another person, taking a bus or are around someone you’ve known for years, traumas still happen. However, a tacky keychain is a sacrifice worth making for your safety. The blue emergency lights are great selling points for campus tours, but you won’t find any in frat houses or bars.

10. Your parents don’t have to know everything

They might help you pay your tuition, but that does not entitle them to the intimate parts of your life. This is your time to explore adulthood, and while help is appreciated, distance is also a big part of the college experience. Before you leave, have a conversation with them about their expectations and your needs so you can set boundaries early on and ensure they’re respected.

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