As a sophomore at the University of Rhode Island, I feel much more confident going into my second year of college than I did going into my first. My learned confidence comes from all of the things I left behind or forgot to buy, the mistakes I made in my first year’s courses, the clubs I did and did not join and all of the people I met. So I have put together this survival guide for the incoming freshmen, using advice from a range of ages, genders and majors to hopefully save some of you from our collective mistakes. This guide is meant to help make your freshmen year go smoother than mine did!

What to Buy: The Freshmen Year Necessities

  • HDMI cable and ethernet cord – for connecting your laptop to televisions.
  • Fan – the dorms can get very hot.
  • Dependable water bottle – one that won’t leak and can be refilled.
  • Lots of storage and labels – for organization.
  • Door hooks – to hang towels, purses, and jackets that don’t fit in the closets.
  • Laundry essentials – don’t forget your own detergent and dryer sheets.


The jump from high school courses to college classes is not a small change for most. The class sizes can vary from hundreds of students in a lecture hall to only 15 students in a small classroom. And as the number of hours students spend in the classroom is far lower, compared to high school, the hours required to complete homework assignments is far greater. Fortunately, there are office hours, tutoring sessions, and advisers ready and willing to assist students.

“Try not to skip classes; you want to make sure you start off your freshman year on a good foot,” recommends Samantha Kelley, a sophomore at URI.

READ MORE: Top 10 things to do your first week at URI

Though some of the classes may be shorter than many new students are used to, attending each class is still important. Professors, especially in the smaller classes, do take notice of the students who attend often and participate.

“Go to class,” says sophomore Lukas Baumgartner.  “Even if you don’t think the class is important or difficult it always pays off to go to class, because that is always where you’ll get the most learning done.”

Most of all, just remember to breathe and stay organized! The pressure of harder classes in a new environment can become overwhelming, but if you stay on top of your work and stay focused it will all fall into place.

“I would say to take things one day at a time,” says Taylor Hanrahan, a junior criminal justice major.  “It may seem like everything is happening at once, but it’s most important to be patient and watch things unfold instead of rushing into them.”


Whether your roommate(s) are random, new friends or old friends, it can be difficult living in a new place with new people. Every freshman is faced with getting along with their roommates, while simultaneously trying to make their dorm (and their experience) their own.

“Don’t be afraid to personalize your side of the room,” encourages Bunmi Olatunji, a sophomore at URI.  “Be colorful, be you, and do something that’s unique with your new space.”

Whether or not you and your roommate(s) are a match made in heaven, your life will be so much easier if you at least get along.

“Get to know your roommate and be friendly with them; even if you aren’t the best of friends, it will make your life a lot easier if you can talk to each other easily,” says sophomore Engineering major TJ O’Toole.


URI offers a wide variety of options for eating on and around campus. In addition to the three dining plans offered for the two dining halls, there is also Rhody Market and the Ram’s Den. Additionally, at the Emporium located at the top of campus, there are multiple places for students to buy food. It features a Dunkin Donuts, an Orange Leaf, and I-Zone, a great destination for late-night calzone runs.

“If you want pasta or Chinese [food] definitely go [to the dining halls] at a random hour, because the line is always long,” explained Kelly Sherwood, a junior psychology major at URI.  “Definitely get the quesadillas! Always have money on your ram card, because you’ll definitely regret it when you get to the emporium and left your wallet in your room!”

Knowing how much you can afford to spend on food is important as well.

“Make a budget for how much you want to spend at college because you can lose track easily and get caught up in buying snacks all the time when you don’t need them,” recommends O’Toole.

Making Friends and Getting Involved

Every freshmen, whether they already have friends at the school or are entering alone, is being thrown into a large campus of mostly new faces.

“Don’t be nervous about fitting in with others or not making any new friends, because chances are there are a lot more people in the same boat as you!” recommends Si Han Huang, a sophomore engineering major.

Getting involved with clubs and sports on campus is an easy way to meet new people and make friends. Not only will you bond with them over the activities, but you will be more likely to find others with similar interests.

“My best piece of advice would be to really branch out and try things maybe you wouldn’t normally do,” says sophomore Samantha Kelly, “It allows you to meet so many more people and make all different kinds of friends when you look into different clubs and everything.”

Since URI is a big campus, there are plenty of opportunities to meet people, and each freshmen should take full advantage of this.

“My advice for freshmen would be to get involved because it is such a big school,” explained sophomore Erica O’Connell.  “The best way to meet people is to join something.”

Staying Active

Every freshmen knows and fears the infamous “freshman fifteen”. Luckily, URI has two gyms on campus, both of which are free to students. They offer machines, weights, and classes at all hours of the day.

“It is important to stay active, so my advice is to find a gym buddy to go with a few times a week so you guys can motivate each other to go,” recommends O’Toole.