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You'll need to know these things

Oregon State University senior Jaron Wilson stretches out in the sun on the lawn outside the school's Memorial Union last July. (Amanda Cowan)

For me, college was a lot of firsts. First time being away from mom and dad, first time living alone, first time making my own meals.

The leap from high school to college can sometimes feel like a million miles, and without the right things it can be even further.

So here’s a list of 10 things you didn’t know you needed:

1. A non-mesh shower caddie: The hard plastic shower caddies may not be as easy to store, but the constant use in the shower can cause mold to grow on the mesh.

2. Fresh fruits, veggies, and deli meats: While there is always the temptation to stock a mini-fridge with high-calorie snacks, I suggest some fruits and veggies. The dining halls can close pretty early, and if you have a late-night class, or workout class, you don’t want to always come home to a cup of ramen.

3. Dress clothes: Most people on campus are dressed in their best gym clothes, and of course that’s all kinds of comfortable. It’s important to remember that most people will also be asking for a letter of recommendation at some point during college. It sounds cheesy but the best way to get where you want to be is dress like you’re already there. Or at least wear pants that zip and button.

4. “Just-in-case” items: in college, you’re going to lose things. Lots of things. So, be prepared: Make a spare set of keys to replace the spare set you’ll eventually lose. Keep $50 hidden somewhere for emergencies. Stash an extra pen, pencil, paper and White-Out. The most important “just-in-case” is a hard drive. Almost all college work is done on a computer, and sometimes files disappear — almost always at the worst possible time. Be smart and back up ALL of your files.

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5. Eight hours of sleep: College is stressful, and depending on the clubs you join, those can be stressful as well. Make sure you are getting enough sleep because there is not one professor on campus who will find your in-class snoring charming.

6. The ability to say “no”: There are obvious things to say no to: drugs, lots of alcohol, and anything that looks really, really stupid. But also be aware that you’ll encounter pressure to join in a huge array of activities. Sometimes there isn’t enough time in the day for Greek Life, school, student government, sports, and an intermural team. Take an honest assessment of your workload and abilities. Over-scheduling can be just as bad as never joining.

7. Organization: Each professor will give you a syllabus on the first day of class (if they don’t, don’t take the class). That syllabus is your road map to an A. Read it, all of it. Then on a calendar write down every assignment. This isn’t high school: Many professors won’t remind you the week before what projects are coming due. If you’re not a naturally organized person, become one.

8. A mentor: Going to school at a university can sometimes feel like high school — except in high school you have college to look forward to, and then adulthood. College, though, comes after adulthood, so find someone who can help you through the hurties. Bad things always feel like the end of the world. But they aren’t, and a mentor will help you see that.

9. Rain gear: As Oregonians it’s almost unheard-of to see people wearing rain gear. It’s also incredibly unfortunate to sit through class totally soaked. With that in mind buy a rain jacket. OSU has a tendency to flood, a lot. One of the worst experiences is sitting through a two-hour lecture with soggy socks, so buy rain boots.

10. An activity off-campus: Oregon State is a great place to go to school. You can make great friends, meet wonderful professors and receive a fantastic education. But OSU can sometimes feel a bit like a snow globe. Find an activity off-campus: That way, you’ll be able to meet and experience all Corvallis has to offer, not just Oregon State.

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