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Headed to college? Here’s some advice

I went home to Raleigh this past weekend, and I was able to spend time with my family and some close friends, including a sweet friend named Haley.
Haley and I are pretty close — I’ve known her since she was a baby. We grew up together, and she’s the closest thing I have to a little sister.
We typically stay in touch through social media, but recently I’ve been getting more and more texts and phone calls from her. Our talks of late have mainly consisted of dorm rooms, laptops and textbooks — that’s right, my “little sister” is heading off to her freshman year of college in a few weeks.
All her questions bring me back to the summer before I went to Gardner-Webb University. The weeks leading up to college might have been some of the most stressful I ever experienced. My mind was full of questions.
What if my roommate is psycho? What if I don’t like college? What if I get homesick? What if I don’t make any friends? What if I don’t get all the right supplies for my classes?
I’m no expert on all things college, but the memories from my freshman year are still fresh. So, I thought I’d address some of the questions I know I had when I went off to college.
What kind of computer should I get?
This is a largely personal question and depends on how much you want to spend and what you’re planning to use it for.
Oftentimes majors that delve into photo, video or audio editing encourage students to get Apple computers.
Some schools are migrating toward tablets for students rather than laptops. Check with your advisor or admissions counselor if you have any questions
Should I rent or buy my textbooks?
Renting textbooks is especially useful for those core classes that have nothing to do with your major. For example, if you’re a biology major, you probably won’t need your English composition book or music appreciation book after you finish the class. These would be good books to rent.
However, if you’re a business major, you might want to keep an accounting or a marketing book when the class is over.
That being said, never buy a brand new textbook if you can help it. Discount websites such as Half.com or Amazon are a good place to find cheaper used books. Of course, you should also check in your campus bookstore.
What kind of school supplies should I get?
Nearly every freshman walks into their first day of class with way too much stuff. Before school begins, buy a planner (unless you plan to actually use a digital calendar), stock up on pens and pencils and buy one five-section notebook. After your first day, or syllabus day, in each class, you should have a better idea of what kinds of supplies to get for each one.
Some classes will require a three-ring notebook with dividers for handouts, homework and notes. Others may require that everything be done online, or only require a simple composition notebook.
So, save some money and do your shopping after syllabus day.
What should I bring for my dorm room?
It’s really important to coordinate with your roommate about what you’re bringing for your dorm room. It would be really unfortunate if you showed up with two microwaves and two futons, but no television or mini fridge.
Talk about lofting (or at least raising) your bed. Raising your bed gives you extra storage room underneath it, while lofting allows room for a desk, futon or many other things.
Also, make sure you have the right kind of sheets. Many college beds require extra long twin sheets.
It isn’t necessary to coordinate your bedding and decorations, but if you want to, go for it! Just remember, you may not be rooming with that person next year.
What if my roommate is a psycho?
This is highly unlikely, but not out of the realm of possibility. One of my best friends from college had the roommate from everyone’s worst nightmares. She blared the TV, always had overnight guests and even posted hurtful lies on Facebook.
One of the best ways to avoid conflict is to talk about things ahead of time. Agree on an overnight guest policy, who’s responsible for what, a time to get quiet each night and rules for sharing each other’s belongings. If necessary, put your agreements in writing.
Your roommate could potentially become your best friend, or maybe you just learn to peacefully coexist.
How am I supposed to make friends?
The first few weeks of the school year at almost any college or university are packed with icebreaker activities and social events. Go to them. Talk to new people at each event. Everyone else is just as nervous as you are.
Build relationships with your classmates, especially if you have an introduction to college life class.
Get involved in groups or clubs — Campus Crusade, choir, Deaf Club, intramural sports. That’s how you make friends with similar interests as you.
Just remember that you may not have a brand new support system of best friends the first week of school, or even the first month or two. Slowly but surely, however, it will come.
Going off to college is an extremely exciting — and scary — time. Embrace the challenges and reinvent yourself as a better, stronger version of you. Have fun and enjoy the ride — you only get four (or so) years.

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