Don’t Be That Guy Your Freshman Year of College

Don't be that guy your freshman year of college

Seeing all the freshmen move in these last few days has caused me to reflect back on my own freshman year of college. It’s a confusing but exciting time, and I remember how much pressure there was to fit in and look like a super-cool college kid. I also remember how much I totally was NOT a cool kid. I wasn’t the coolest cat around, but I’m just glad I wasn’t “that girl.” I think that’s the most you can ask for freshman year. You’re going to make mistakes (everyone does) but the most you can ask for is to avoid being that guy (or girl) that everyone talks about.

Don’t be that girl who wears booty shorts with crop tops and heels.
It is amazing how many girls come to college and suddenly think that wearing as little as possible and adding heels is “so college.” It isn’t. It’s actually just awful, uncomfortable, and is going to get you all the wrong kinds of attention. It’s fine to dress up for “going out,” but keep it classy. We all know you’re a freshman from a mile away when you dress like that, and quite frankly, it’s just awkward.

Seductive Woman on Traintracks

If this looks like your freshman year first day of school picture in any way, STOP.

Don’t be that guy who is the worst roommate ever.
When I hear crazy roommate nightmares from people, I can’t help but wonder if the crazy roommate actually realized how crazy they were. Remember that you’re living with another person, and you have to respect their space. Your mother is not here with you to clean up your messes. Don’t leave dirty socks everywhere. Don’t blast loud music at 4am. You’re sort of a grownup now, so you should probably act like it.

Don’t be that girl who ONLY studies.
College is full of so many fun opportunities. From clubs and extra-curriculars to potentially a whole new city to explore, there are always fun things to do around campus. Most of the biggest lessons I’ve learned and friends I’ve made have been outside of class. You’re not going to make new friends in a library, and at the end of the day, losing 0.1 on your GPA is worth four years of memories.

Woman reading

You can do other stuff too, you know.

Don’t be that guy who is always drunk.
Just don’t. It seems funny at the time (I guess?) but being that guy who pukes on his roommate’s bed or passes out in the dorm hallway isn’t super cool. It just shows that you have no self-control and little self-respect. Feel free to explore the world of college drinking if that’s what you’re into, but know when to stop.

Don’t be that guy who wears a suit to class.
Unless you’re a senior and have job interviews all the time, there is literally no reason to wear a suit to class. You’re not going to look “classy.” You’re just going to look like you take yourself way too seriously.

Adorable Kid in Suit

It’s cute when you’re this age, not cute when it’s 9am on a Monday and you’re 20.

Don’t be that girl who tries to be everyone’s “friend.”
College is about networking, sure, but it’s also a place to make genuine friends. The phrase that makes me the maddest is a fake “Let’s do lunch sometime!” Be yourself. Don’t try to make friends with the rich people, or the well-connected people, or the cool people. If you do you, you’ll create genuine and meaningful friendships that are far more beneficial than having 1,000 phone numbers of people you don’t actually like.

Don’t be that guy who waits until the last minute to cram for exams.
Seriously, just don’t. Cramming never works as well as you want it to, and even if you do well on the test, you haven’t actually retained any information. This means that as soon as the exam is over, so is your knowledge of British history or whatever the subject may be. Don’t let your money go to waste by taking classes and then absorbing none of the information.

College is an amazing experience. Just make sure to keep calm and skip the high heels. Oh, and make sure to read this post about the do’s and dont’s of college.

Xoxo, Taylor

Photos courtesy of Counselman Collection and Steve Rainwater. Used under CC2.0 license.

6 thoughts on “Don’t Be That Guy Your Freshman Year of College

  1. This was a great list. A few comments:

    1) On the fashion faux pas of which you provided a picture (booty shorts), of course one of the other things wrong with that: modelling on train tracks doesn’t seem like a smart idea. 🙂

    2) Sometimes I have heard people describe college as a You-Pick-Two of Social, Study, and Sleep, and I probably eschewed Social more than I realized in college. In some sense, I have tried again and found a better balance in graduate school.

    3) And in terms of roommates, even if you don’t think you are a bad roommate, your roommate may have other opinions. If they offer suggestions, take them. Better to appease.


    • In response to your comments:
      1) I agree! I think the photo is great from an artistic perspective, but I feel like that’s not the safest idea!
      2) I think all three are really important! On a given week, it might be the “pick two” mentality, but having all three is important I’ve found.
      3) Agreed! There are some things that I do that I may not have even thought were inconvenient. I had never thought about how blow-drying my hair in the morning might inconvenience my roommates who might want to make phone calls or do other things. It happens! The most important thing as a roommate is to be open to changing your behavior.


  2. Don’t be that girl who persistently whispers to her friend in the back row of class while the teacher is trying to communicate with you and a roomful of other students, thereby forcing your friend, the whisperee, into the awkward position of having to either ignore you or compete with the instructor (and publicly casting both you and the friend as self-centered divas). Don’t be the guy who, assigned to a partner or a group, fails to contribute anything of value, ignores texts and e-mails, and shows up late or not at all to meetings. Don’t be the guy or girl who claims “shyness” as an excuse for never raising interesting subjects for conversation and for never uttering a surprising, wrong or right, stupid or insightful comment in class. Do be that girl who both listens to others and who speaks her mind. Do be that guy who loves to talk about the book he’s reading or the film project he’s working on. Do be the girl who loves science. The guy who isn’t embarrassed by being told he’s wrong. The girl who isn’t crushed when a teacher makes a playful comment, but who instead plays back. Do be someone who makes relationships and classes better, not worse, for your being in them. Do be someone who views and treats others, regardless of their statuses and roles, as people, subject to the same institutional constraints as you are; who understands teachers to be mentors, guides and potential long-term friends and advocates. Do be the one who understands that your place, however lowly or exalted at this moment, is among others: the one who knows that college is a social system and a cultural context in which none are alone or special in their superiority, inferiority, fears, issues, frustrations, desires, creativity, artistry, hopes, dreams, rage, intelligence, cluelessness, sorrows, exultations, and other human experiences.

    The simplistic, problematic yet commonly-repeated mandate, “Just be who you are” is flawed on many levels: for one, we are made of our performances of self, and also, identity is an ongoing process that involves what we do and how others see and respond to us. As we transform what we do, under the new circumstances of cultural change (like coming to college), we transform “who we are”– and as we begin to manage, in freshly mature ways, how we want to be perceived by those we like and respect, we start to see how “pretending to be something we’re not” can lead to “becoming” something new. Thanks for a great, thought-provoking blog post, Pinstripes&Lipgloss.


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