Going off to college carries a number of mixed feelings. For some, it is an exciting time of looking forward to new opportunities; for others, it can be a stressful time of trying to figure out what to do and what not to do before beginning the next big chapter of their lives. Regardless of where your head is at — in regards to what is in store for you, there are a variety of things you should bear in mind before you load up the car and head over to Blacksburg this fall. To help you with navigating the road ahead, here are some of the key things to keep in mind when starting your undergraduate experience at Virginia Tech.
While it may sound like a great idea to room with your best friend from high school, it might not be the amazing roommate experience you have in mind. One of the most important things to consider when rooming with someone is that you will be sharing the space you live in, and that goes beyond splitting the room. Whether you pick your roommate or choose to “go random” (allowing Housing and Residence Life at Virginia Tech to assign you a roommate), you’re not just sharing a room with them; you’re sharing a lifestyle. This includes sleep schedules, room cleanliness, having people over, study hours and many other aspects of day-to-day college life that you will experience together.
“A lot of people (go) into living with their roommate thinking that they’re going to be best friends, but that’s not always the case,” said Yasmin Tuku, a rising sophomore studying biology. “I think it’s more important to make sure that you and your roommate live well together, and that’s the most important part.”
Take time to look at what’s around you (and ahead of you).
College as a whole can be overwhelming at the start. Balancing classes, having a social life, being away from home and various other adaptations can be hard to get used to. While this may be the case, it is important for your future planning as well as your current activities to know what is available at the school. Whether it be campus organizations, university amenities or other ways to better prepare yourself for involvements ahead, take time to familiarize yourself with what the school has to offer. One of the best ways to do so is to attend Gobblerfest, an annual fair at Virginia Tech that showcases many of the university’s campus organizations such as clubs, fraternities, sororities, academic programs, leadership opportunities and so much more.
Making new friends anywhere can be a daunting task, but at a school like Virginia Tech, you are bound to meet people to make great connections with. While many people want to stick with what they are familiar with and who they are familiar with, don’t limit yourself when it comes to meeting new people.
For those who come to college with friends from back home, it can be all too easy to spend time with those people, but this can really be limiting in the long run. For those who feel that they are in a place full of unfamiliar new faces, it can be scary trying to put yourself out there. Part of being a college student is experiencing college itself, and that includes getting to know those around you.
“Just put yourself out there,” said Natalie Rhodes, a junior studying political science. “And even though it can be scary, say, ‘You know, this is me, and it’s OK if you don’t like me. Pick organizations that you think you’ll like.”
Don’t overdo it with the meal plan.
Coming to a university that’s known for having some of the best dining options in the country, eating at Virginia Tech is an experience, regardless of what dining hall you attend. When choosing an on-campus dining plan, you’re presented with three Flex plan options: Major, Mega, or Premium. Each plan has a specific amount of dining dollars in them, with each plan varying in cost.
Depending on your eating habits, you should put some thought into which dining plan you want. Whatever money you don’t spend in the fall semester ends up going into your spring dining plan account as “rollover funds.” However, the money that isn’t spent by the end of the spring semester does not transfer into the following semester — nor is it refundable — meaning that whatever you don’t spend by the end of the school year goes to waste (unless you choose to donate it).
“I would suggest the middle (Mega Flex) dining plan and to also make a plan, which my friends and I didn’t do,” said Samiha Mahbub, a rising sophomore studying business. “When you get a meal plan, budget how much you can spend so that it lasts the entire semester.”
Emphasize time management, but make sure to relax.
Movies and TV shows make college look like anything and everything, but don’t let what you have seen or what you have been told put stress on you. Come to Virginia Tech with an open mind and open expectations, but make sure to make time for what is really important. Your freshman year grades are the foundation for your undergraduate GPA, and time management is essential to get done what needs to be taken care of.
“My advice would be don’t have any expectations,” Tuku said. “There’s so many things you might not see coming or might not have seen yourself (doing), and I think coming in with expectations, it could be good, it could be bad. If it is bad, then you might not have that good of an experience. Try to come in with as little expectations as possible, and try to be open to as much as you can be open to.”