So, you’re about to start college—exciting places, new friends, and adventure awaits. However, you might find it helpful to have a guide, which is why I’ve compiled a list of tips from upperclassmen. Welcome to The Unofficial Guide for Freshman Year.

  1. Know Where You’ll Spend Your Time

Obviously, you’ll be in your respective residence hall for a good chunk of time, and depending on the classes you take, you could be in the same academic building for most of the day. I can guarantee that as a WSU freshman you will spend the most time in Kryzsko Commons—because that’s where the food is.

Zanes is pretty popular among all students for a food and hangout spot. We also have the only Panda Express within a fifty-mile radius of Winona, so it’s not a bad place to spend your time. Just don’t blow all your Kryzsko Cash the first week.

  1. Don’t Go Home (for the First Few Weeks)

You’ll hear this at any college or university, but don’t go home for the first six weeks. Now, we encourage your parents to visit—and don’t forget to call every once in a while. However, we recommend staying on-campus for those weeks because you are still in a transition period.

If you get in the habit of going home often, it will be harder to stay on-campus. It’s the classic “out of the nest to learn how to fly” mentality. If you continue to have one foot in the nest, you won’t ever get off the ground.

  1. Keep Track of Your Schedule

Freshmen get a whole week on-campus before classes start—use this time to familiarize yourself with your fall schedule. Take a picture of it on your phone. A lot of students make it their background on their phone, so they don’t have to stare at a piece of paper while wandering campus.

Along those same lines, know where your classrooms are. Maps are provided on the WSU website, and your orientation leader will take you on a tour of all academic buildings during Welcome Week. If you’ve got the time, explore the buildings yourself and physically find your classroom—or at the very least plan your route on a map. A campus map is also very helpful to keep as a photo on your phone.

  1. Rookie Mistakes with Lanyards and IDs

Many students use lanyards to keep track of their keys and student ID—it’s a convenient way to make sure nothing gets lost. On the other hand, hanging your lanyard around your neck is a dead giveaway that you’re a new freshman. Maybe just keep it in the side pocket of your backpack instead of looking like a rookie.

Going off that, keep your Warrior ID on you at all times. You will use your ID to get into your residence hall, the cafeteria, the gym, swimming pool, and to check out things from the library. Plus, it’s what you swipe to use Kryzsko Cash. It costs $20 to get your Warrior ID replaced, so keep it close to you.

Also, memorize your Warrior ID number—an eight digit code on the front of your Warrior ID—it’s sometimes also called a Tech ID. Your StarID is different and consists of two letters, four numbers, and then two more letters (Example: ab1234cd). This is at the start of your WSU student email and is also your login for D2L and the campus Wi-Fi.

  1. Know How to do Laundry

Residence Halls all have free laundry for their residents and the machines are simple to use. If you aren’t already familiar with doing your own laundry, ask your parents to show you how before coming to school. Don’t mix whites with reds—unless you want pink clothes—and wash your delicates separately.

Please be respectful of other residents by not leaving your clothes to sit for days in the dryer. Setting a timer for when your laundry will be done or using LaundryView is extremely helpful—and that way other residents won’t feel compelled to move your clothes.

  1. Use the Bookstore and Library

The library is a great source of information and a great study space—rooms can be reserved online for group projects or just studying with friends. The circulation desk allows you to check out books, dry erase markers, HDMI cords, phone chargers, and laptop chargers with your Warrior ID.

The WSU Bookstore has all of your textbooks ready for you to pickup (you can rent or buy used books to help lower the cost). Sales appear periodically, so be on the lookout for deals!

Some classes require you to bring your own blue books or scantrons for exams—WSU has these materials free for students at the front of the bookstore. Pro tip: grab a couple just in case one of your classmates forget theirs.

  1. Go Outside

Winona is settled in the beautiful Mississippi River Valley—take advantage of the warm weather while it lasts! There are lots of free hiking trails in the bluffs like Sugarloaf and Garvin Heights.

The two lakes on the south side of Winona have paved paths around them for jogging, biking rollerblading, or skateboarding. WSU has extended free student Wi-Fi by the Big Lake as well, so you can relax with some Netflix in a hammock.

Lake Lodge, on the north side of the Big Lake, allows students to use all of their equipment for an annual fee of $20. Equipment includes: kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, use of the ice rink in the winter for skating, and more.

Local restaurants, coffee shops, and other eateries are available a few blocks from Main Campus. Nate and Ally’s has excellent frozen yogurt and ice-cream. Zaza’s has daily pizza and wing deals. Also, Mugby Junction has coffee specials for every season.

  1. Some Last Bit of Advice

The tips above are meant to be words of wisdom from upperclassmen, but ultimately, your freshman year is what you make it. The best way to succeed is to stay healthy, study hard and have fun!