It’s August. The leaves are changing color and your parents are crying as you wave them a happy goodbye, moving your TV and five different gaming consoles into your brand new dorm room. Your stomach is rolling with nerves and excitement at the thought of the good times you’re going to have breaking into the college scene.

Then there are only nerves as your parents drive away, leaving you behind to your new life. A life you had planned out a million times in your head over the summer, full of new people, new parties, new things. A life that you suddenly have no clue how to begin. How are you going to get started on all those new things if, at the moment, you’re sitting on your bare mattress, contemplating the finer points of college life in an empty room?

Here’s a tip: Ditch the consoles. Go outside. Get involved. There’s a reason why those who are involved in campus life tend to be happier than those who aren’t. Participation in school events, clubs and activities allows students to have a part in shaping their community. In a university with more than 300 clubs and sports teams, it’s a guaranteed method of meeting people of like minds and interests. There are even plays and concerts at Stony Brook’s Staller Center for the Arts, as well as movie nights scattered throughout the campus.

Remember, staying inside your dorm room deprives you of a life outside of it.
It’s also a pretty good way to waste your school tuition. Skeptical? Bring out your tuition bill and take a look at the list of fees.  The average full-time student pays approximately $95 for the school’s Activity Fee, $75 for its Recreation Center and Fields fee, and $250 for its Intercollegiate Athletic fee alone. Staying inside robs you of the chance to make the most out of your campus resources.

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That’s a lot of money to throw away. Plus, working out at the various campus gyms maintained by your Stony Brook tuition fees is a good way to ditch the extra 15 pounds gained at one of the five major campus eateries – Kelly Café, Roth Café, the Union Food Court, the SAC food hall and Jasmine, SBU’s premier location for Asian cuisine.

But an active social life – or the lack thereof – is not the only worrisome thing a college freshman might face. Any new dormer might have heard of The Roommate: an infamous creature that can make or break your dorm life at Stony Brook. There’s nothing as worrying as living with a virtual stranger, after all. What if he’s a snorer, or sings like a frog in the shower? Or what if, one fine morning, you wake up to a vacuum hose to the face because you’re just an honest slob, but he’s an uptight neat-freak on a Sunday morning cleaning spree?

In truth, new dormers might not realize the benefits of having one, or even two, roommates. For some, their roommates are their very first friends in a place that could feel isolating and depressing for newcomers. And for new dormers that are tripled? Three in a room meant for two might mean shared drawers and cramped quarters, but it might also mean gaining an extra friend out of the bargain.

For problems that go beyond that, Stony Brook has a Resident Assistant on every floor of every wing. Trained to ease your transition from home to college dorming, they are a great resource for just about every problem imaginable. Make friends with your RA, as well as your neighboring hall or suite-mates. The more people you know living in the same place and situation as you, the more enjoyable dorm life will be.

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Of course, though campus life could mean a plethora of new experiences for many freshmen, it is still important to remember that this is only meant to supplement your education. So listen to this next tip, which is absolutely imperative: Go to class! Believe it or not, attendance counts a great deal for your grades. Missing only one or two lectures can be enough to keep you out of the loop long enough to pull that almost A into a C-. But college might be the only place in your life where time is abundant and yours to do with as you please.

Ultimately, you are the one that decides how you invest this time—whether you study for that 4.0 GPA, use it as a springboard for your future career, or use it to do absolutely nothing. The choice is yours, so be sure to use it wisely.

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