The Hipster Freshman: A “How To” Guide on Being the Savviest New Kid Around

Being hipster is cool right now.  Don’t do what everyone else is doing.  Be one step ahead of the game.  Do something trendy before it becomes trendy.   And if you’re a true hipster, this applies to every area of your life.  It comes with ease.   But nothing tests the hipster soul more than that one sacred rite of passage.  College.

I’m not talking any kind of college experience.  I’m talking the freshman college experience.  You just graduated high school.  You were a senior.  The top dog.  You were the coolest of the cool.  You were aloof.  And now you’re off to embark on a new journey.  You’re going to do it right.  You’re striking off on your own without the parental units.  You’re establishing your identity.  Watch out life.  Here comes… you!

But how can you be “the new kid in town” without sticking out like a sore thumb?  How do you blend in?  How can you avoid being…. well… This guy.
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Being someone who has gone through the freshman orientation process twice (that’s what you get for transferring after your first semester), and has been an orientation leader every semester since, I think I can offer some solid advice to the (high school) Class of 2013 on how to be cool, how to smoothly glide into campus life, and how to blend in even as a freshman.  Because to be perfectly and brutally honest, you’re not as impressive as you were in high school anymore.  That doesn’t mean you aren’t special, or loved, or unique.  It just means all those “top dog” points you’ve been used to having… They’ve been wiped clean.

But before you read any of this… Remember, we were all freshman at some point.   The reason we can spot these things is because we all did them. Being a freshman isn’t a problem.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Your campus is excited to have you.   So why would someone need a “how to guide” on how to not be an obvious freshman?  The things freshmen do that make them so obviously a freshman are things that clog up the system.   They slow down everyday life on campus.  They cause traffic to stop, lines to gather, and pedestrian collisions.  It’s not a problem to be a freshman, it’s just a good idea to try to slide into the campus life as quickly and smoothly as possible as to not inconvenience the people around you too much.  So consider this a guide to transitioning into the daily college flow.

With that being said, here is my best advice!

Your lanyard

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I get it.  It’s cool.  It’s convenient.  But don’t.   Don’t wear it with the lanyard hanging out of your pocket.  Don’t you dare wear it around your neck.  Or worse… wear it with around your neck with your keys and ID on it.  This is the #1 sure-fire way to spot a freshman.  This isn’t so much a functionality “flow of campus” kind of situation.  It just screams “FRESHMAN!” and if you’re trying to avoid that, stuff that lanyard in your pocket for no one to see.


Campus Maps

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Campus is new.  There are so many buildings.  But if you’re walking around with a map of campus?  You look like a tourist at disney land.   Do yourself a favor and snap a picture of the campus map on your smart phone.  No one questions someone looking at their phone.  And if you’re lost, don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

Groups

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Gee, I’d love to get to class faster, but this huge group of people is taking up the entire walkway.  I wonder if they’re freshmen?  Of course they are!  Freshmen tend to travel in packs.  It’s all those best friends they’ve made, ya know?  I like to call it a “flock of freshmen.”   If you make a lot of friends, that’s great.  As a senior, most of the people I’m friends with now were not the people I hung out with my freshmen year.  But that’s not to say that a social life is not vital to your college experience.  I’m glad you’re making friends, but please.  Do not walk in huge groups.  And if you do, walk on the grass.  Not on the road or the sidewalks.   My college has one main road that runs through campus and the shuttles from the apartment buildings drive on this road.  But for some reason the freshmen every year think that road is a giant side walk for them and their friends.   What’s worse is the freshmen who do not MOVE OFF THE ROAD when the shuttle comes.  Like seriously, don’t block traffic.  Ever.  Make friends.  Hang out in groups.  JUST DON’T BLOCK THE ROAD.

Talking About High School

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You may have been the only captain of the varsity basketball team in high school… but at this school, there are dozens of other students who were the captain of their varsity sports team as well.  You got into the same college as everyone around you, there’s no need to brag about your SAT or ACT score.  Please leave your Letterman jacket at home (I love mine too – the picture above is actually my Letterman jacket – but that phase of life is over).  Maybe tell those “funny high school memory” stories a couple times.  But if your RA knows the names of your 5 closest high school friends by the end of orientation, you need to shut up about high school.  It’s not to devalue your high school experience.  It’s not that it wasn’t important.  You just have to understand that your high school experience is not your college experience.  It isn’t the reality you’re living in any more.  And it’s not an experience that your peers share with you.  Reminiscing is great and don’t be afraid to talk about high school now and then, but people will get bogged down if that’s the only thing you want to talk about.

Trays

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Note: This may be something that is exclusive to my university.  Not every school goes by this standard.

A few years back, the student government at my school decided to take a green initiative at my school.  They encouraged everyone to stop using trays in the cafeteria so there would be less dishes to wash.   And it worked.  People stopped using trays.  But the trays are still there.  So every year, when the freshmen come to campus.  They see the trays at the front of the cafeteria and they grab one.  This clogs up the lines, slows down the process, and keeps everyone away from their food that much longer.  There are very few things as scary as hungry grumpy people.  Do yourself and the people around you a favor, and don’t get a tray.   If you don’t go to my school, your best bet is to watch the RA’s and see what they’re doing.  Simple as that.  Trays at my university are one of the fastest ways to spot a freshman.  The only other people who carry trays are visitors and that elderly professor who wears a bow tie every day. (He’s my favorite).

So there you have it.  Those are my 5 pieces of advice to avoid being an obvious freshman.   Remember, it’s not a problem to be a freshman.  It’s just important that you’re transitioning into the campus community quickly.  You want to fit in and be welcomed.  The best way to do that is to show the upperclassmen that you’re thinking about a little more than just yourself.  If you do the things I mentioned to avoid being an inconvenience, you’ll quickly gain respect from those people around you.  And don’t forget, this is exciting!  You’re going into college!  You’re starting your adult life.  Have fun with it!

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