Top 10 Things First Year Students Wish They Would’ve Known Before College

Taylor Jankowski | Contributing Columnist

While there are numerous ways to prepare for college, sometimes merely googling or going on a tour of the campus just isn’t enough. Sometimes you’ve got to find things out the hard way, through some good, ol’ fashioned experience or from just being thrown directly into the situation.

As a first year student, there’s a lot we expect coming into college, but I think we can all agree that there’s a lot we didn’t expect. This is a compiled list of things we weren’t told, for those of us who are still clueless, or perhaps, for the incoming class next year. In other words, this is what Google and our lovely tour guides forgot to tell us about life at college.

1. The Importance of the Syllabus 

In high school, you’re given this irrelevant slip of paper on the first day of class with all these seemingly pointless rules and grading expectations. It immediately gets stashed somewhere into the black hole that is probably your binder, never to be seen again. While the teacher may reference it once or maybe twice throughout the whole year, odds are you wouldn’t even notice if you lost it.

In college however, this syllabus acts as your bible for the given course. It tells you anything and everything important you need to know about the course, from daily homework tasks to examination expectations. Having a good understanding of the syllabus is essential to passing class with a decent grade. Professors will reference this sacred text practically every class. One does not simply “lose” the syllabus in college.

2. Check Email Religiously

You start receiving various emails from colleges before you are even an official student there. Once you become an official student, the amount of emails you will receive every day can be rather overwhelming. From “The Connection” spam to last-minute messages from professors, checking your email is pivotal to staying organized and informed.

Not a day should pass without checking your email at least once. It is through your email account that you find out things you wouldn’t have otherwise known, such as if a class is cancelled or various events happening around campus and invitations to attend these events. Don’t let laziness or forgetfulness keep you from checking your email and from checking it often.

As first year Thad Boone said, “Check your email religiously!”

3. The Mystery That is PrintSmart

You would think with the amount of papers a student will write while in college that someone, anyone, would think to mention how a student can go about printing these on campus, right? Wrong. We were told there wouldn’t be printers in the rooms, but we weren’t explained the process of how to print to the campus printers. Are we supposed to register the various printers on our computer?

Had it not been for a friend of mine enlightening me about the technology that is PrintSmart a couple weeks into the semester, I would’ve assumed that. For those people who have still not quite figured this out, PrintSmart is a website that Butler uses for students to print via the Internet at various locations across campus.

Simply go to and log in with your Butler username/password and voila! You can now print at any of the printers on campus with the click of a mouse.

4. How to Manage Time

This is definitely one of those aspects you have to learn the hard way.

“I wish I would’ve had a better idea of how to manage my time before coming here,” said first year student Christina Barraclough. “It is very necessary here and also rather hard to do sometimes.” Balancing a social life, exercise, academics, extracurricular activities and maybe a part-time job definitely isn’t easy and something that should’ve been stressed a lot more. It is very easy to fall behind if you do not manage your time well and create a schedule that fits you.

5. Self Confidence is Sexy 

When coming to college it’s only natural to have some nerves and anxiety. You’re thrown into this brand new and foreign environment and are suddenly expected to make a life and a career out of it. However, as nerve-wracking at this process can seem, try to not let your nerves get the best of you.

“I came to college thinking I was gonna fade into the background like I did in high school,” first year student Anthony Hand said. “But if you go out and be yourself, you will find a lot of other people just like you.”

In this school of around 5,000 people, you’re bound to find people who will love you for you, so be yourself and take pride in that.

6. How to do Your Own Laundry

Let’s be real for a minute here, most of us first years didn’t do our own laundry when we lived at home. If we did, it sure wasn’t every single time, or completely by ourselves. A lot of us even take our laundry home with us in the hopes that our parents will love us enough to do it again. Legal adult or not, many of us came into college without much experience when it comes to actually doing laundry.

“I always had my mom do my laundry, so coming here was like a new experience,” said first year student Cole Seager. “The first time I had to do my laundry here, I did it without putting in any detergent.”

Yikes. Moral of the story, practice doing your own laundry before coming to college, and please don’t forget detergent.

7. You Still Have to Clean

 You may think moving to a dorm means no longer having a bedroom to clean after incessant nagging from your mom, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The only difference between living in a house and living in a dorm is the lack of having a mother around to nag you to do things. While this may sound like a blessing, it just means more responsibility is placed upon you, because you’re the one who has to motivate yourself to clean. No one else is going to do it for you. And for the majority of first years that have a roommate, two people living in a single room equals an even bigger mess to clean up.

“When packing for college, I thought being an adult was doing my own laundry and making it to class but I forgot that I would be living on my own,” says first year student Mallory Hale. “Tables get dusty and sometimes I wanna pack snacks for class but I can’t do that without cleaning supplies and Ziploc bags. Even though you have an unlimited meal plan and a cleaning staff, that won’t cut it. You’re still an adult and you have to take care of yourself. This isn’t summer camp.”

A little organizing and a weekly cleanup go a long way.

8. Moodle will be Your New Best Friend

If you are a student at Butler University and have not already saved Moodle as a bookmark on your computer, you need to seriously rethink your life. No, if you haven’t, I’m begging you to take a moment now and do just that. It’ll save you a lot of time and stress. Moodle is the most common and often the easiest way for a professor to communicate with their students. Forget checking Facebook, check Moodle. If there ever comes a night where you don’t think you have any homework, check Moodle. I promise you there will always be assignments to do.

9. Even an Expensive Dining Plan Doesn’t Always Cut it

Sometimes you’ll find yourself exhausted and stressed at 3 a.m. typing a paper that’s due the next morning, and to top it off, your stomach won’t quit grumbling. At 3 a.m., Atherton and C-Club are both closed, so you have to rely on the snacks you have in your dorm room. Treat your dorm room as a cave that you are hibernating in. Sometimes you won’t even have time in your schedule for a full meal, so a granola bar or an orange from your room may be the best option. Invest in some groceries, and when you go home, snag some from there. You’d be surprised by how quickly the groceries will disappear.

First year student Shelby Eaton said, “Bring real food and cherish fruit as much as you can.”

I can’t even remember the last time I had a piece of fruit that wasn’t an apple or a banana (thanks, Atherton.) Atherton will have vegetables you didn’t even know were vegetables, but when it comes to their fruit selection? Not exactly peachy.

10. Lanyards: A blessing or a Curse?

Definitely a curse. Seriously, nothing screams “Hey I’m a first year who can’t keep track of important things,” more than wearing a lanyard. While these may be considered a style icon for some, leave it in high school. Please. And if you’re still not convinced that lanyards are a curse, the clanging sound of your keys hitting against your chest as you walk will drive everyone around you crazy. If you own a lanyard, go ahead and let it rest in peace. It will not be missed.

Class of 2019, take it from us while you can. You’re welcome.

Contact Taylor Jankowski at