First-Year College Student Tips

(Image credit: Penn State Archives)

Fall semester has started for a lot of people which got us thinking about what we wish we knew (or what we wish other people knew) going into school. We've also included some responses we got on Facebook. Here is a brief list that might be helpful for some of you:

  1. ONLY DO IT WITH CONSENT. Consent is a conscious, enthusiastic,  and voluntary, “yes!”. It is ongoing. It is not implied and it is not the absence of a "no.” *Remember: if you don’t feel comfortable asking for consent and talking about sexual activity before, during, and after you shouldn’t be participating in sexual activity to begin with.
  2. If you are interested in participating in any kind of sexual activity (and you are ready ^^) make safe and healthy choices. Many schools and local community organizations like Planned Parenthood offer free or low-cost condoms, female condoms, dental dams, lube, and HIV/STI testing. Ask your RA  or go to student health services for free or low-cost contraception. If they don’t have what you are looking for, they will probably be able to point you in the right direction. Also, don't do any type of sexy-time anything when your roommate is in the room. Not cool ya'll. Not cool.
  3. Set rules with your roommate when you first move in. If there are things you are absolutely not okay with be upfront about it to avoid problems. It might feel awkward at first but it will help your relationship in the long run.  If you’re not into having strangers spend the night in your room, talk to them about it. If you don’t like people touching your food without asking for some first, say something. It’s your room too and you should both (or all) respect each others boundaries.
  4. "Ask questions! Not just when it comes to the lecture material, but for anything. Ask where this building is, or where you go to fill out that form, etc. At first I always tried to figure that kind of stuff out on my own, and while discovering things on your own isn't always bad, a lot of time was sometimes wasted." - Alyssa Olvera
  5. Participate in self-care. Remember that it’s okay to skip going out some days if you are someone who usually likes to go out. It’s also okay to want to go out even if you normally don’t. If your friends have a problem with it, they’re probably not good friends anyway.
  6. Call family or chosen family and friends every now and then. It’s really easy to get caught up with your new school and your new friends but nurturing your older relationships is important, too!
  7. Title IX is not just about sports. It is a federal civil right that prohibits sex discrimination in education. You are protected from sex discrimination regardless of your sex, gender identity, and/or gender expression.  Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault made this easy to understand infographic about Title IX that we think might be helpful for you. A resource we think is helpful regarding Title IX is
  8. If you or someone you know is sexually assaulted you have options when it comes to reporting. You can report it to your campus, report it to the police, or choose not to report it at all. You have options and it is important that you make the decision that is best for you. If a friend is sexually assaulted do not force them into making a decision they are uncomfortable with. Offer them resources, listen to them, and NEVER blame them for what happened.
  9. "Find out your college's rules for dropping/changing classes without penalty! I initially signed up for 18 credits my first semester and realized very quickly it was going to be too much, but thought dropping a class was like giving up- so I stuck with it (bad move). I didn't understand all the policies for dropping classes without penalty. Some schools even have "freshmen forgiveness" which allows you to make changes to your schedule longer than normal." - Courtney Huber-MacNealy
  10. "If you have Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Bi-Polar Disorder, Borderline, etc, you have legal rights to academic accommodations for the rest of your education, thanks to Title II of American's with Disabilities Act. I can't imagine how amazing life would be if I hadn't had to drop classes or withdraw and if professors were required to give me extensions!" – Andrea L. Pino-Silva



Know Your IX - Title IX in Detail 

SurvJustice - Services for Survivors

End Rape On Campus - Information about Title II

Rape Abuse Incest National Network - // 1 800 656 HOPE 

Find a local sexual assault resource center

Department of Defense Safe Helpline - Safe Helpline // 1 877-995-5247

National Domestic Violence Hotline - What to Expect When You Contact Us // 1 800-799-7233 | 1 800-787-3224 (TTY)

National Suicide Prevention Hotline - Suicide Prevention Lifeline // 1 800 273-8255 (English and Spanish)

Trevor Project (LGBTQ Suicide Hotline) - Get Help Now // 1 866-488-7386

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -  Find free HIV/STI testing near you 


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