The Dos and Don’ts to Ensure a Successful (and Non-Traumatic) Freshman Year

David L. Garcia and Shelby Black

Staff Writers


Lose your ID I cannot emphasize this enough. This ID is your first and most important companion here at USF. It holds your food money (a.k.a “flexi”), bus pass, and access to campus buildings and your dorm room. It. Is. Everything. If you do happen to lose it, you can purchase a new one on Lone Mountain (a.k.a Lomo), but that beautiful bus pass that gets you around the city is gone for good until next semester. Be sure to purchase an ID holder at the bookstore.

Leave your laundry in the machines It’s a hassle already having to do your laundry, but it’s an even bigger problem when there are no available washers or dryers due to finished loads that haven’t been taken out. Do you and your peers a favor, and don’t leave your laundry in the machines. Set a timer to let you know when you’re laundry is done to avoid angry residents and stolen clothes!

Be afraid to speak up Seriously, everyone is just as scared as you. Everyone is just as confused as you. Everyone assumes they aren’t going to make friends. You are going to make friends; you just need to say “hello.”

Call it San Fran Or Frisco In a few months, when you finally go home for Thanksgiving, some silly relative will call your new home by one of those nicknames. Just ignore them. This is your city now; know what to call it. Most of us call it SF. Simple, easy, and hard to misunderstand. The City is also common. The City by the Bay is good, but only if you need to be poetic for some reason.

Skip the welcome week activities Yes, it’s cheesy, and awkward, and no, you probably won’t make any long lasting friendships playing a silly icebreaker. Doesn’t matter. The silly games give you confidence, which is the key to having a successful freshman year.

Worry about keeping in touch with friends from high school You won’t lose everybody. It’s OK. Everyone’s busy with his or her own life. If you find yourself sitting in your dorm, wondering why an old friend hasn’t responded to your text, don’t sweat it. They’re probably out making some friends, which is what you could be doing!

Ignore your Dons email Any official school news is sent through email, and it’s the main form of communication between you and your professors. Be sure to check it daily, first thing in the morning. There’s nothing better than getting an email at 7:30 a.m.  saying that your eight o’clock class has been canceled. Good thing you checked your email.


Get a lay of the land As a freshman a lot of new things are being thrown in your face at once, so it would be a good idea to get accustomed to your surroundings. For example, consider trying to find your classrooms and check out the buildings before school starts; no one wants to be that kid who walks in twenty minutes late to class, especially on the first day.

Download a transit app If you’re new to San Francisco, figuring out the bus system will definitely be tricky at first. Luckily there are a handful of convenient (and free!) apps available to download that will help you get around the city. Three popular apps are Routsey, Transit and Muni Watch.

Do something with your roommate, especially if you’ve never met before Watch TV, study, eat dinner in the Café, hell, go to Lucky’s together because you both forgot to bring nail clippers. Whatever. Spend some time getting to know the stranger you’ve got to live with for the next nine months.

Call your parents, at least once a week, if not more They worry, and honestly, you miss them. C’mon. Admit it. Just a little. You do.

Join an on campus organization There’s dozens to choose from. Join anything that strikes your fancy. Most clubs LOVE having freshmen join (someone needs to be groomed for leading the group in a few years). It’s a great way to meet upperclassmen. And if you end up hating the club, just drop it. You’re not married to your decision.

Use your MUNI pass It wasn’t free; don’t waste any of that valuable, valuable tuition. Learn the bus routes, pick a place in the city you’ve never been, and go, even if just to say you’ve been there. The city’s a great place; MUNI will help you explore it. And be sure not to lose your ID, unless you want to have to sneak onto buses and run the risk of a giant fine.

Make the most of your freshman year Yes, cliche I know; but, freshman year is going to be the best year of your life, and the only time you can get away with mostly anything. It’s going to go by fast y’all, so make a ton of friends and some amazing (albeit slightly ridiculous) memories and capture everything on camera. 

Use all of your Flexi At the end of the year, your meal plan money will disappear, forever. Unless you want to buy a lifetime’s supply of Fritos and toilet paper, eat up! Or, your Flexi can be your ticket to making friends with upper classmen by treating them to meals.

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