Now that you’re in college, you’re on your own. You make the decisions—like study or party, wake or sleep, cream or sugar? But you’re not alone. Your friends, teachers and those who’ve gone before you will be around to help if you ask them. Then there are people like us, who offer advice whether you asked for it or not.

For this annual Join the Pack guide, we tried to remember what it was like to be in your shoes. Some of us recalled a sense of excitement and personal expansion; for others, it conjured some regrets. What would we have done differently? What do we know now that we wish we knew then? Then we sorted through all of those memories to pluck out some kernels of wisdom for you. Take it or leave it.

But you’ll have to make your own mistakes, find your own joys, figure out just what you want out of not just your college experience, but also your life. And don’t worry, you don’t have to figure out that last part in the next four years, but it’s nice to get a good start. These will be the greatest lessons you learn.

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