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Wish I knew: Here are five things nobody thinks to tell you before college

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Before you start at Cal Poly, or any college for that matter, everyone from relatives to school administrators to the crazy cat lady two doors down is going to bombard you with information they think you need in order to survive the experience. After a while you realize that you’re hearing the same pieces of advice over and over again. So now that you already know how to study hard, where to make friends, and why you should wear flip-flops in the dorm showers, I’m going to share some important things I learned during my time at Cal Poly that nobody thought to warn me about.

1. If you live on campus, find out what time the custodians come.

Every morning/early afternoon, custodians clean the bathrooms not only in the dorms, but in the on-campus apartments as well. While this is a wonderful and convenient aspect of living on campus, it can really throw off your day if you’re not prepared for their arrival. I can’t tell you how many times I went through my morning routine in a panic because the bathroom was closed for cleaning right at the time I needed to take a shower. If you know when they come, you can plan your day around them and not have to worry about being late for class.

2. When it comes to on-campus doors that require cards and/or passcodes, rules are different.

All of the doors outside of the dorms and on-campus apartments require key cards and/or passcodes, and from the day you move in, you will see posters and hear Resident Assistants (RAs) warning you not to let strangers in. In theory, this is a great way to keep your building safe, but in practice, it can often make you look like a jerk. It’s a minor but highly annoying inconvenience to have to go through that process every time you need to open the door, so if there’s someone behind you that looks like they are also a student, it’s considered polite to hold the door open for them to save them the trouble.

You will probably get a lot of death glares if you shut the door on someone, especially if they are carrying a lot or if it is raining outside, but I don’t want to sound as if I’m condoning jeopardizing the safety of yourself and your neighbors. Trust your instincts.

3. Get all the touristy stuff done right away.

San Luis Obispo boasts a lot of attractions, and until you live here for a while you might think that you’ll be visiting all of those attractions on a regular basis. The truth is, after a certain point you will most likely not be interested in going to the farmers’ market every week. Unless you actually attend mass there, odds are you won’t be spending much time at the mission, and unless hiking is a hobby of yours, you won’t be trekking to the top of Bishop Peak regularly. You’re going to want to do all of these things just because you live here, but the further along you get in your college career, the harder it will be to find people willing to do these activities with you. So get all of the “must sees” of SLO done as soon as you can, just to make sure that you don’t graduate feeling like you missed out on something.

4. If you get invited to an event, make sure you know what it’s for.

Let me tell you a little story. When I was a newly minted freshman, a girl came to my dorm room and invited me to a bonfire. I agreed to go because I was eager to make some new friends. The girl neglected to mention that the bonfire was a recruiting event for her club, and that if you were there, everyone assumed that you were interested in joining. I won’t mention which club it was, but let’s just say it was most definitely not meant for people like me, so the situation got very awkward very quickly.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t take up invitations like that, but just be sure to clarify that the person doesn’t have ulterior motives. In my case, I ended up having a decent time anyway since they gave me free food and I got to watch a guy spin fire, but afterward, I kept getting text messages inviting me to their meetings.

5. When you fill out professor evaluations, your professors are going to read them.

At the end of each quarter, all of your classes will give you a form to fill out that allows you to rate the class and the person who taught it. These evaluations are completely anonymous, done while the instructor is out of the room, and sealed in an envelope which will be hand delivered by one of your classmates. This procedure might give you the impression that the evaluations are not for that professor’s eyes, but in actuality they just aren’t allowed to look at them yet.

In other words, if you want to talk about how you were so much more motivated and focused because your professor is really hot, don’t include that in your evaluation. Save it for PolyRatings, or just gossiping with your classmates.

Intern Katrina Borges only said a professor was hot one time. That was enough. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com.

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