Advice to incoming college freshmen: counseling, Ramen and textbooks

An incoming college freshman should prepare for the nights they find themselves having a breakdown on the futon they bought off Craigslist, with an half-empty bowl of ramen in front of them.

It’s almost a college tradition to put your mental health on the backburner when you have three research papers, a group project and a party to go to, all by Sunday.

That’s why the first thing an incoming freshman should do is find the counseling center.

That’s not a piece of advice meant to scare students, or their parents, but a way to make sure they aren’t scared. I’ll be entering my senior year at Central Michigan University and college has been the most overwhelming experience of my life — behind being in my 20s in general.

I, along with most of my friends, believe we probably would’ve failed some classes if it weren’t for the counseling center.

Once I started going to counseling, my anxiety levels decreased ten-fold, and my life felt more together than it had in months.

Utilize all the campus resources you can — from the counseling center to the clinic, from academic planners and free events.

Another way to lessen the pain of an inevitable stress-induced breakdown is to figure out the best way you stay organized. Everyone is different — some have planners broken down by the hour, others prefer bulletin journals. I personally highlight my standard planner by different colors that represent certain things.

To cheapen the college experience, avoid buying textbooks from bookstores, and wait until a few days after the semester starts to see if you’ll even use the book. I purchased five books my first semester, and only opened two of them.

If the textbook is needed, rent from Chegg or Amazon, or check out or This will save you hundreds of dollars.

Speaking of money, get a job your second semester. First semester can be overwhelming enough without a job, but second semester is a good time to put the connections you’ve made to use and get a job at the local coffee shop, cafeteria or the writing center.

Just make sure you still put your classes first. I worked as a reporter at my school newspaper from the first day of school my freshman year and, because I took on a lot of assignments, it took an obvious toll on my grades.

Having money to spend on campus is great, but it’s useless if you get kicked out for failing.

Finally, invest in that dorm room mini-fridge and microwave. It’s the best way to warm up stolen cafeteria food while you’re spending the night starting the essay that was assigned two weeks ago and is due at 8 a.m.

It’s also how you’ll cook the ramen.

Good luck in college. It’ll be the most overwhelming, stressful, beautiful time of your life. You’ll make friendships that’ll last a semester, and others that last forever. As cliche as it is, this is when you’ll make the best memories and grow as a person.

As someone entering their final year of college, I promise it’ll be done before you know it. Remember to take care of yourself, forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ll definitely make and get that planner.



Posted by Brianne Twiddy

Brianne can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8365 or by e-mail at

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