Hoping to avoid a freshman flop era? Steer clear of Bwog’s past mistakes and heed our advice so you don’t foul up your first year at Barnumbia.

My journey at Barnumbia has not been the smoothest, starting way back in my days as a precocious pre-frosh whose college dreams were crapped on by the onset of a global pandemic. After spending my first year at an uncomfortable desk in my ill-lit childhood bedroom, I finally made it to campus (for real) last year, ready and excited to be a “sophomore.” But in all reality, this “sophomore standing” was a mere facade for those of us arriving on campus for the first time. We were freshmen at heart, going through the same growing pains with as much naivety as the actual first-years. Though we pretended to have our shit together, it was actually hitting the proverbial fan. Over and over again.

I won’t mince words—I’m a fuck-up. A failure. A flop. I am continually getting myself into bad situations of my own doing, even when I know better. And with my first year on campus finally complete, I have also witnessed some serious silliness from my peers. Negligence while navigating the city, dining disasters, academic asshat-ery, and campus clusterfucks—you name it, I’ve done (or seen) it.

As much as I’ve tried to restrain my erring ways to my “flop era,” I cannot escape my fate as a chronic cock-up. It’s too late for me. But you, dear pre-frosh, still have a fighting chance. Your on-campus reputation has not been solidified. You still have hope. 

Here’s a list of 101 mistakes I’ve made, or seen others make, in hopes that you might be spared some misfortune this coming year.

  1. Forgetting cash at Absolute Bagels. I have definitely never done this, and no friends have ever had to spot me. Not once!
  2. Toasting that aforementioned bagel. Your friend paid good money for that bagel (for which you will definitely not forget to Venmo them), don’t ruin it!
  3. Pairing that bagel with an iced coffee from Absolute. Don’t trust it. I know what you’re thinking: “It can’t be that bad! I want a fun drink to go with my bagel!” But not this drink is not fun. I hate to bear bad news, but at the risk of providing too much information, I was glued to the toilet for hours after that ill-fated iced coffee. Just go to Dunkin.
  4. Forgetting the operating hours at JJ’s and being sorely disappointed upon arriving at 11 pm on Thursday and finding that it is closed, rendering you depressed and burger-less. :(
  5. Doing no. 4 but drunk. The sorrow of finding that door locked at the bottom of the stairs while drunk hits so much worse.
  6. Believing in Ferris Booth Commons. Contrary to popular belief, Ferris is a myth!
  7. John Jay pasta
  8. Only eating John Jay pasta for a month (Grimes moment)
  9. Consuming Columbia Dining chowder. Get the Broccoli Cheddar, even though this Bwogger said it wasn’t the best.
  10. Letting the Dig Inn smell dissuade you from enjoying Dig Inn. The meatballs are actually quite scrumptious!
  11. Not becoming a regular at Koronet (who sometimes goes to Famiglia because it is also very good!)
  12. Not becoming a regular at Hamilton Deli. Milano is fine but not exactly budget-friendly.
  13. Not taking advantage of Pret coffee subscription. Unlike Absolute, the coffee is NOT that bad!
  14. This is not a mistake anyone made or will make, but the biggest food flop is that there will no longer be Choco Tacos in Ferris this year (not a failure of Columbia Dining). I am distraught.
  15. Being scared of the long line for Surf, Turf & Earth. It was really yummy and worth the wait, even though I didn’t get to meet Robert Irvine!
  16. Forgetting that a green take-out box is living somewhere in your dorm room. Yes, I say living intentionally because mold will develop very quickly, and it will be wholly disgusting when you find it weeks later.
  17. Forgetting to transfer to the 1 at the 96th Street station. You’ll end up about a mile from campus and have to take the walk of shame back.
  18. Not utilizing the buses (use them!)
  19. Taking an Uber. There are a couple situations in which calling an Uber is fine (feeling unsafe late at night or traveling to the airport), but most times… just… take the subway?
  20. Asking your friends to take an Uber. Honey, I cannot afford that.
  21. Naively thinking that the A-B-C trains stop at 116th and Broadway. They actually stop at 116th and Frederick Douglas on the other side of Morningside Park.
  22. Laughing when you see someone trip on campus. Alma is watching, and karma will come back to bite you in the ass when you’re the next one to succumb to Barnumbia’s treacherous terrain. 
  23. Entering freshman year thinking that you have figured out your major. You don’t declare until your second year, so don’t box yourself in!
  24. Being scared to diverge from your academic plans and follow a passion
  25. Letting your family or peers dissuade you from a “useless major”
  26. Turning your Lithum classroom into an academic battleground. Save the warfare for Achilles.
  27. Expecting an easy A in Core classes because you got a 5 on AP Lit
  28. Freaking out over the first less-than-stellar grade you receive. Getting a B (or C, or D, or even F) is not the end of the world, I promise!
  29. Expecting to be able to diligently read every page of each assigned reading. Skimming is a lifestyle!
  30. Skipping the readings entirely (they are assigned for a reason!)
  31. Forgetting that, above all, you are at Barnumbia to learn, but also:
  32. Forgetting that this learning doesn’t always happen in the classroom—you learn from your peers, from clubs, and from merely existing in New York.
  33. Forgetting that, while academics are important, nothing is more important than your mental and physical health.
  34. Being scared to ask for an extension. I have never been denied an extension, and the final product was always better after taking extra time. Most professors want to read your best work and care less about sticking to hard deadlines.
  35. Not going to office hours. This one is really a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” I almost never go to office hours, and I almost always regret it. As I began my Barnumbia journey on Zoom as a meek freshman two years ago, I was too intimidated to go to virtual office hours. Now that office hours are largely mercifully in-person (often with a virtual option), I really have no excuse. I’ll try to do better this year.
  36. Waiting until the due date to start a paper. We’ve all done it, and it fucking sucks. Try to get a head start.
  37. Thinking that cramming for one night can make up for a semester of not paying attention in class. I am as guilty as anyone of zoning out or doing the occasional New York Times Crossword during class. But at least try to absorb something during lecture so you’re not royally fucked when finals come around.
  38. Skipping lectures to catch up on work for other classes. I fell down this hole this past semester, and… oh my god. Please do not repeat my mistakes.
  39. Letting the end of the language sequence mark the end of your journey taking language classes. I kept taking foreign language classes after I finished Intermediate II, and I do not regret it.
  40. Trying to squeeze in a double major or a concentration just for the hell of it. Just relax and take some interesting and fun electives instead.
  41. Forgetting that, while some professors do indeed suck, others are really, really great. Some professors absolutely love their job and their academic specialties. Allow their passion to rub off on you.
  42. Not being an English major (it’s pretty cool!)
  43. Devil’s advocacy of any kind (do you want to be disliked?)
  44. “To bounce off your point…” We all know this is a meaningless segue; don’t taint my eloquent point with your stale take!
  45. Taking a class on the top floor of Hamilton
  46. Sleeping through a registration appointment and now finding yourself on the waitlist of a class because of your own nincompoopery. 
  47. Signing up for Friday classes. One of the greatest gifts of being a student here (at least in CC) is the four-day week. Don’t surrender it. 
  48. Taking five classes your first semester. Relax.
  49. Pupin Hall (only good for poopin! see: no. 96)
  50. Schermerhorn. Schermerhorn in itself is a big fat fucking mistake.
  51. Forgetting to slow down and take it all in. You might have a pressing deadline approaching, but it is (sometimes) more important to sit on Low Steps with your friends and just value where you are in life. Appreciate the company you’re in and hold onto fleeting moments.
  52. Taking anything for granted. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that anything we have—our health, our friendships, our loved ones, our campus community—can disappear in a moment’s notice. Savor each experience and be grateful for every moment.
  53. Being scared to say no. Say no! To everyone! Always! Professors! Friends! Lovers! Club leaders! Parents! Random people trying to talk to you on the street! If you don’t want to do it, say no! Put yourself first!
  54. Being scared to be unhappy or dissatisfied or even hate Barnumbia. There have been plenty of times where this school has left me beaten down and defeated. Don’t give into the pressure of maintaining an image of having a perfect college experience. Let yourself process your emotions, and ask yourself how you can feel better. Don’t feel guilty for having moments of unhappiness; it happens.
  55. Allowing others to encroach on your boundaries. Don’t do it! Once it starts it is so much harder to remove yourself from the situation than if you respect your own boundaries from the beginning.
  56. Comparing yourself to others. Whether academics, looks, romantic relationships, popularity, style, or anything else, you are your own person.
  57. Letting things fester—if you notice a problem beginning, control it before it controls you.
  58. Not going to CPS soon enough (book that appointment!)
  59. Not putting yourself first. Fun fact: you do not owe anything to anyone ever (other than basic respect and the $5 you said you would Venmo your friend who spotted you at Absolute Bagels because you forgot cash)!
  60. Not being amicable. Be kind to your peers unless there’s a serious reason not to be. Don’t be annoying.
  61. Doing things because they seem cool. It’s okay to not be cool! The coolest people I’ve met at Barnumbia are, in large, certifiably not cool! We’re dorks, all of us!
  62. Not taking care of yourself, including (but not limited to):
  63. Forgetting to drink water. Please drink water! I don’t, but you should!
  64. Related: Please wash your water bottle occasionally. It can (and will) mold!
  65. Not eating. Please find time to eat something
  66. Not practicing dental hygiene. It can be easy to slack off brushing your teeth now and then when the bathroom is so far (three doors down the hall), but try to remember, lest you get scolded by a very condescending dentist at your next appointment.
  67. Not being chill. For the love of Alma please just be chill.
  68. Giving into nihilism
  69. Not being indie
  70. Not slaying
  71. Skipping campus traditions. Fun fact: you are not too cool to love Barnumbia’s silly little traditions! You are not too cool to take approximately 1 million photos at tree lighting and post them all on social media. 
  72. Not screaming primal-ly
  73. Turning clubs into a professional rat race. They are supposed to be fun, not just LinkedIn/resume boosters!
  74. Not getting to know people in your classes. Your classmates are cool and have interesting perspectives. Talk to them!
  75. Not living in Furnald. Anyone who has not lived in Furnald is the worst!
  76. Carman Hall. That’s all.
  77. Feeling like you have to leave campus every weekend. Take a chill Saturday and just relax on campus and catch up on errands. You don’t need to go out every week!
  78. Feeling like you can’t leave campus because X deadline is rapidly approaching. Fun fact: until your last final is over, you will always, always have a deadline approaching. Always. Don’t let deadlines keep you from doing something fun in the city that you want to do! This spring I went to a concert in Greenwich Village the night before a final and an essay due date. I got an A on both; it’s possible!
  79. On a related note, thinking that fun and good grades are mutually exclusive. They aren’t! While striving to assure a healthy balance is important (please don’t get fucked up on a Tuesday night; or do, live your truth), if you go a semester without having fun, you will lose motivation to study and your grades will suffer! Have. Fun.
  80. Joining too many clubs (pick a couple that you’re passionate about!)
  81. Staying in clubs that disrespect your time, energy, humanity, etc. You’re at Barnumbia for a short time—don’t waste it on mean or boring people.
  82. Not calling it Barnumbia
  83. Getting angry when people call it Barnumbia
  84. Denying that some people and clubs (not just Barnard students!) actually call it Barnumbia
  85. Not realizing that Barnumbia is just a silly word play and no one is genuinely advocating for the University to be renamed Barnumbia (well… almost no one)
  86. Seething about no. 82–85 in the comment section on Bwog articles (also violating no. 67)
  87. Not knowing the difference between CC and CC and many other campus names one Bwogger lovingly compiled into a glossary
  88. Confusing Dodge with Dodge
  89. “The College”
  90. Losing your ID (it costs $20 to replace)
  91. Locking yourself out of your dorm room. CUID holders have to schlep to Hartley to get a temporary ID regardless of where you live.
  92. Not having a plan in place before engaging with substances. How will you get home? How are you staying cautious? Who can you ask to make sure you don’t overdo it? Don’t rely on friends to babysit you without prior communication.
  93. “I’ll only have one drink…” I see through your lies, deceit, and empty promises.
  94. Ignoring no. 92 and vomiting all over the precious belongings of your dear friend and fellow Bwogger who remained graceful and, only out of their sheer benevolence, did not hold it against you.
  95. (Now a relic of the past) Forgetting to do your daily symptom attestation on ReopenCU and getting cock-blocked by the Lerner turnstyles 
  96. Not knowing where the best bathrooms on campus are. Look, from one pooper to another, the basement (technically the first floor) of Hamilton is a diarrhetic’s dream—clean and usually not too crowded (if you’re a shy shitter—I’m not). I hope I don’t regret writing this when dozens of Bwog-reading BM-ers become Hamilton bathroom devotees and start flocking to the basement and ruin the vibes. Honorable mentions: Uris first floor on the way to Chef Mike’s and the single-use bathrooms on the ground floor of Pupin. 
  97. Not taking advantage of the many free museums you can access with just your ID
  98. Not returning the blue bin from Hartley and getting billed $300
  99. Not buying a fridge and constantly begging a fellow Bwogger to store your hummus in their room. 
  100. Not joining Bwog—the bwiggest bwunder of all!
  101. (Not counting correctly and suddenly realizing that you fucked up once again and only listed 100 mistakes, but this final error thus makes 101 and fulfills the promise you made to the readers at the beginning of the article, though no. 100 was supposed to be my “big finish” and now the ending of this (entirely too long) list is rather anticlimactic)

Flop Alma via Wikimedia Commons