Arriving at a college where nobody knows you can be the most exciting feeling in the world — but it can also have its consequences. Sure, people may not know that you decorated your locker with unicorns freshman year of high school, but do you really want to give them the impression that you’re usually the one swinging from the ceiling at the frat house? Here are the top 7 surprising (and not-so-surprising) ways to trash your rep before you can say “academic probation.”
1. Gossip Girl
Easier said than done, I know, but gossiping can ruin your reputation faster than a frat boy can chug a beer. Especially as you’re just meeting people, when you immediately start talking about somebody else behind his or her back, it makes your new acquaintances wonder if you’ll gossip about them, too. Although you might feel better in the moment ranting about your crazy roommate to everyone on your floor, you’ll regret it in the long run.
2. The Flake
You know that friend that always wants to go to dinner or finally see that movie downtown, but then about five minutes before you’re supposed to leave texts you to say he or she has to flake. Don’t be that friend. We’ve all been there, and it’s always annoying when it happens. It’s easy to make plans with someone, only to be bogged down moments later in homework, clubs and life. But when you make plans, try to stick to them. If you think there’s a good chance you’ll have to reschedule, warn your friends ahead of time that you’re having a busy week and might have to pass on this outing. Flake one too many times and you’ll be enjoying dinner-for-one in your dorm room for the rest of the year.
3. The 24/7 Partier
Obviously, this is college and, clearly, there are parties. Lots of parties. After working all week on your French project and killing yourself to memorize every muscle in the human body for kinesiology, who wouldn’t want to have a little fun when Friday night rolls around? But consider yourself warned: Go out every night Sunday through Saturday, and you will make a bad name for yourself. I’m not suggesting that you sit in the corner and study every night. However, there is a fine line between having a good time with your friends on the weekend and hitting up ragers on a Tuesday.
4. The Constant Status Updater
“John Doe is at the library studying for finals until the end of time.” “Susie Q is at the cafeteria watching that gorgeous boy next to her eating his ice cream.” I’m sorry, but very few people —excluding your mother and stalkers — want that much up-to-the-minute information about you. When you’re updating your status more than twice a day, you should probably consider restraining yourself. Especially when people may not know you too well, constant Facebook and Twitter updates signal one thing: I need a life. Sure, you might just want to share your favorite song lyrics of the day with people, but to everyone else, it’s the first sign that Suzie Q needs more hobbies.
5. The Photographer
I’m guilty of being that girl — the one with the camera, ready to capture every potential Kodak moment the second it happens. But I’m very well aware that not everyone’s a fan of that. While it may be tempting to capture all of the fun, awkward moments of college, sometimes it really is better just to live in the moment. Try to take the time to enjoy yourself without having to immortalize every minute of it — even if it means passing up the opportunity to blackmail your friends later.
6. The Social Chameleon
“Oh, yeah, I LOVE foreign films.” “You like to hike on the weekends, too?” “OMG, the Yankees are my favorite team ever!” Obviously, everyone wants to fit in. While this may go without saying for some people, for others it’s just a reflex they cannot control. But really, there is no excuse for the complete social chameleon, who is ready to blend opinions to match whomever he or she is with at the time. If you really do love something, then by all means speak up and express your enthusiasm! But if you don’t know that the Yankees play baseball or your idea of hiking means taking the steps at the mall instead of the elevator, then you will do yourself a huge favor by not pretending to be an expert on all things, all the time.
7. The Debbie Downer
We’ve all seen the “Saturday Night Live” skit. And it’s true: Nobody likes a Debbie Downer. Especially within the first few weeks of classes when you’re meeting new people, who wants to pal around with someone who complains about everything under the sun? “My roommate is beyond annoying.” “I’m sick of all of my clothes.” “I think I’d rather starve myself than eat the food in the dining commons.” Complaint after complaint gets annoying to hear. Sure, we all have bad days, but try to keep full-on rants to yourself, or at the very least, to a minimum. With that being said, keep in mind that Debbie Downer’s cousin, Suzy Sunshine, can be equally as irritating to the rest of the world in large doses.
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