The summer after senior year has a bad habit of passing by too quickly. Maybe you spend all of it working at a summer camp, or you've been wrangled into a long family vacation, but before you know it, it's fall and you're moving into a dorm. No one is really prepared for the independence of college before they experience it. For most of us, it's our first time on our own, first time sharing a room with other people and first time living in a different state or city.
It can be easy to let the summer slip by, a blur of Netflix binge-watching and going-away parties, but amidst the late nights and even later mornings, there's a few things you ought to learn before you head off so that you don't annoy everyone that has to live on your floor (trust me, no one wants to clean up after you).
1. How to wash dishes by hand
Surprise! You probably won't have a dishwasher in college. Buy some soap, get a sponge or some sort of scrubbing device and get to work. It's okay to let something soak for a little bit, but if you're consistently leaving your uneaten food in bowls around the cooking area or leaving your carton of milk out to spoil, people are less than likely to be amused. Just clean up when you're done; it's pretty simple.
2. How to do laundry
Don't forget to wash your sheets once a month or so. You might not be able to smell them, but your roommate probably can. Know what clothing can be put in the dryer and what need to hang-dry to avoid the premature destruction of your favorite sweater. Also, it's not a good idea to wash towels with your clothes (wash them with your sheets) because they can cause the fabric to ball.
3. How to cook
This one's a lot simpler then it seems. All you really need are a few meals under your belt for when your meal plan runs out or you get tired of Easy Mac and Top Ramen. Keep an eye on the microwave when heating things up, too. Popcorn has a tendency to burn and make the entire room smell like burnt popcorn.
4. How to shop for groceries
Make sure you get some fruit and vegetables in your cart. It's easy to be tempted by the convenience of frozen pizza and greasy pre-made meals, but your health (and your budget) will appreciate it a lot more if you buy more basic groceries like frozen blueberries and apple juice. Also be wary of over-shopping. It can be tempting to buy every avocado in the bin, but if they all go bad before you get around to eating them, you've just wasted a lot of food.
5. How to study
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised by how easy it is to get distracted in college. Figure out where you work best, whether it's the library, a coffee shop or in your room, and learn how to set aside time there to be actually productive and not just talk to the person next to you for a few hours.
6. How to take public transportation
Chances are you won't bring a car with you to college (besides parking permits are notoriously overpriced). Buses aren't as scary as they seem, and they'll likely be your most convenient mode of transportation. Know how to read a bus schedule, how to transfer buses and the preferred way to pay for a ride, it all gets less intimidating the more you do it.
7. How to budget time for yourself
On campus, everyone is constantly doing everything. You feel obligated to hang out nonstop with people, participate in every club and go to every event. Sometimes it's important to take a moment for some valuable "you time." Maybe it's going for a run, maybe it's knitting, or maybe it's writing in a journal. Learn to take some time to just be alone, step back from everything for a moment and recharge. This is especially beneficial during finals or other high-stress periods of time).
8. How to network
Most everyone is in college for the same reason, so that they can get a job one day. Networking is one of the most crucial components for this. Think of an elevator pitch and make some business cards for yourself before you get to school so that if you run into an important executive on the metro or have a particularly successful professor, you can use the situation to your advantage.
9. How to use the library
The thing I find most shocking is how little other students use the library. It's a great place to check out a movie, instead of paying to rent it, and sometimes you can find your textbooks there and avoid the hefty cost of renting or buying them.
10. How to budget money
As someone who infamously blew through an entire summer's earnings in the first two months of college, I think this is one of the most important things to learn. You don't have to go out to every restaurant or buy something on every shopping trip, think about things that you want to save your money for (spring break trips, concert tickets, a surprise trip home), and budget your money accordingly.