Going off to college is an exciting time in the lives of all freshmen.

For most, it’s one step closer to being on your own and responsible for yourself. It sounds like a dream, but it also holds the promise of a million mess-ups.

While mistakes are inevitable, it’s always nice to face disaster with a few words of wisdom at your disposal. So here are just a few things to remember:

1. When picking roommates, choose lifestyle over friendship. It’s tempting to fall for the fantasy of non-stop slumber parties and heart-to-hearts with your best friend if you’re going to the same school. Maybe you’re just trying to prevent yourself from getting stuck with a weirdo by rooming with someone you know. I have a terrible secret for you though: your best friend is a weirdo, and never takes out the trash, and will probably eat chips on your bed while you’re out. What’s most important in choosing a roommate is figuring out how they live their life day-to-day. When do they go to sleep? Do they play music 24/7? Is it Nickelback? When I was searching for a roommate I asked my potentials if (a) they snored, and if, (b) they wouldn’t mind my blatant disregard for housekeeping.

One of my future best friends answered no to both questions and we spent the next year borrowing each other’s clothes and getting fined for not vacuuming. A lot of my friends, however, chose high school acquaintances and ended up ruining friendships over who clogged the sink. Save your friendships and choose someone else. At the very worst you’ll have an awful roommate you can tell horror stories about for years to come.

2. Learn to do laundry. A lot of dorms have idiot-proof machines that have settings such as “Darks” and “Woolens” in place of numbers and temperatures and chaos, but as a 20 year old moving into her first apartment next month, I’m already embarrassed for my future self and how I’m going to have to ask my parents for help on how not to turn my whites pink.

3. Don’t spend all your time studying. Go to class, do your work, but don’t unwaveringly choose school over socializing.

School is really really important — your parents and I can’t stress that enough — but know that in a lot of career tracks, who you know is just as important as what you know. So don’t neglect your friends.

4. Lastly, take solace in the fact that college, like any new chapter in your life, grants you the opportunity for reinvention. Whatever reputation you had in high school is now obsolete and irrelevant. Start anew, and if you must, fake it until you make it.

That’s all for now! Check back next week for more advice as the school year approaches.

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