For making friends and socialising, learning, eating, working, and just generally having an awesome time at college.
Sit up front. You'll hear and see better and you'll have fewer distractions in your field of vision.
Just because your friends are staying up until all hours of the night on every day of the week, doesn't mean you should too. If you have early classes, go to bed! Don't attempt to function on no sleep when you can help it.
Leave your high school legacy behind. No one cares how popular you were in high school or what you did while you were there. Also, leave your Letterman jacket at home.
Amazon or other online vendors for Textbooks Often cheaper, great return policy -none of the "you unwrapped it no return" crap. Can find it used or new.
Never rely on the LAST BUS Regardless of its the last mall shuttle, the "drunk bus", the last train, etc. Its always packed, and hell breaks loose. Be on the 2nd to last one when possible.
Also, use your campus gym. Working out will help relieve some of the stress you will ultimately face!
If you live on campus with a roommate and you both decide to loft your beds, loft your bed over your roommate's desk and vice versa. That way, if one roommate wants to sleep while the other wants to be on the computer, the light from the desk is under the bed, not shining across the room at the person sleeping.
Don't bother buying a whole bunch of school supplies when you move in, as much as your parents will want to. I just ended up with boxes of things like paperclips and staplers that I never use. Instead, just buy stuff when you actually have a need for it.
Study. No other way to say it.
Go to office hours. 95% of the time, I'm sitting there on Reddit hoping someone will stop by. Every prof I know is in a similar state except the week before the test. We will absolutely help you out and you'll get more out of the class than just showing up to class.
Learn to manage your time wisely.
The on-campus infirmary or "clinic" will have condoms for free. Don't let a fun night turn into 18 years of headache.
Can't cook? Buy a crockpot. Throw in whatever you want, leave it on low-setting all day while you're at school, and when you come home you've got a great dinner that's hot and ready.
Tape dryer sheets to your dorm windows when your room smells. Freshens the air up.
For the love of god, don't buy your textbooks until you need them. There are quite a few professors who will tell you the first day that the book is not required, and there are some who will say they are required but don't end up using the book at all. If you're on a budget, not buying your books until you need them can save you a few hundred.
Credit cards ARE NOT free money. The banks know you're young and experiencing freedom. Please, don't spend money you don't have, it's a vicious cycle that can lead to a lot of problems.
Everyone's trying to make friends as a freshman.
Take your syllabus seriously.
Get to know your professors - Try and get your professors to know who you are beyond a student number and a grade (if they even know that). Professors in small or even large classes/majors are valuable resources for letters of recommendation, additional opportunities (research, limited enrollment classes, independent study, connections, academic advice). Professors whom know -and like you- are more likely to provide you extra help, address an unsatisfactory grade, given academic advice, and etc than student 349431. not all professors are worth knowing It's pretty easy to figure out which professors do not care or do not want to helpful. They may be a researcher whom is required to teach intro bio, an archaic dinosaur whom believes that giving out A's is heresy, and etc. When you come across an instructor worth knowing, you will know it, and make sure to leave an impression.
Be nice to receptionists/admins/assistants/secretaries Be nice and considerate to everybody actually. They are not just desk jockeys, but somebody whom can squeeze you in to a schedule, let you know if a prof is able to see you even if its out of office hours, call you if an opening becomes available, pass on notes before the professor gets to their mailbox at days end, etc . I have found my way out of bureaucratic hellholes and catch-22's through making allies in various offices.
If you're going to work part time, work in the mornings and have later classes. You're less likely to oversleep if you're afraid you'll get fired vs. afraid you'll miss one class, plus if you aren't a morning person you can be groggy at work instead of at class.
Try to figure out if the teacher wants coursework done with your unique opinion or their own opinions given back to them. It may not be what you want to write, but I'd rather get the better grade IMO.
Every semester seek out and build a relationship with one of your professors. Stop in after class, get to know her/him a bit, and become a person to them. When it comes time to request letters of recommendation your senior year (or later!) you will have eight faculty to chose from, all of whom will remember you as more than just another namesless student with a line in a gradebook.
Go to the eye doctor BEFORE the semester begins. Seriously, sitting in lectures for weeks without being able to read half the shit on the board is a pain in the ass. If you need glasses, get them beforehand.
Make your bed as tall as possible if you have a small room. You can fit and hide SO MUCH STUFF.
If you have a problem, go to student government about it. Say, if there's not already a student book exchange? That's exactly the kind of project that student govt should be tackling. Whether or not you ever want to BE a student govt person, recognize that those folks live for issues and and improvement projects they can sink their teeth into--put them to work for you.
You can guarantee that something your roommate does, on campus or off, will piss you off. Talk to him/her about it. Be open about things like that. Or else you're going to let something little build into more, until you can't stand each other.
Don't treat your classes like they don't matter. Treat them like Job Training and give them the same attention you would to a training session at a new job. Because it IS job training.
Another tip is to look up jobs now that you think you'd be interested in. LOOK at what they require for skills! See if you can acquire some of those skills while in college. I'm a zoology major and some jobs require I know how to canoe and be in good physical shape. Those things I wouldn't get out of a class, but they are something you can still do while in college.
Keep DRINKABLE water in your room.
Join 2- however many student organizations that you seem interested in, even consider going Greek, and/or an honors society. This will broaden your perspectives, an important component to life.
Tape dryer sheets to your window when your air needs to be freshened.
Our air conditioning in our dorm would only go so low, so it was always hot in our room. We took a washrag and ran it under hot water, then laid it on top of the thermostat. Instant cool.
Find a way to combine the material you're learning in different classes to save on study time.
Make your friends freshman year and be as social as possible for the first year. Sophmore year onwards it's a lot harder.
No matter what subject, what major or minor or whatever you call that you have, no study course is designed to chew knowledge for you so you only need to swallow. Yes, it will teach you a tremendous amount of stuff. You will drown in coursework, count the grammatical and orthographic errors in boring power-points, you will rage about how it must be impossible to do all the stuff the professors expect of you.
Be a research assistant. Your prof probably does some really cool research outside of teaching your class. See if you can help!
If it appears on the board, it will be on the test. Attend class and take down everything written or on powerpoint and you should be able to pass most tests.
Learn when to study and when to take a break, and for how long to take a break. This applies through the whole semester and especially during exam times.
If you don't know how to study, you are going to fail. If you don't know how to take a break, you're going to go insane.
If you're having trouble in a class, even if it's because you were slacking off the entire semester, talk to your fucking professor. They're human too, and they're understanding so long as you actually care enough to ask them for help.
As a freshman, make friends with the upperclassmen. They have gone through at least a year's worth of hell in college and their experience can definitely help you get through your first semester. Also, they have better accessibility to booze, so if you're good friends with them, they will invite you over to drink and party. Also, drink plenty of water in between drinks and eat something before.
For writing essays: don't start with your introduction. Take the evidence\arguments you have, lay them on a page and connect them in a logical order. Then build your thesis around your evidence, rather than building your evidence around your thesis. Major essay time saver. Edit: Saver. Derp. Typing on a phone is hard.
Back up your data! Always. Once a week. More often for big projects. Make it a habit. Not to a thumb drive, but to a real dedicated external backup drive. If not, you will have a computer/hard drive failure at some point in your college career and lose everything. Usually right before finals.
If you have a laptop that travels to class with you, or you have roomates, get one with 3 years of accidental damage protection. (Dell complete care, HP Carepaq, etc.) If you have an Apple product, get some secondary coverage, because applecare does NOT cover accidental damage of any kind. If you have a party with alcohol in your house, put it away safely elsewhere until the drunks go home.
If you have any electronic devices. Make a list & keep it in a safe place of (where applicable) Serial numbers, MAC addresses (wired & wireless) and if possible, have digital photos of anything expensive. Store it all on a thumb drive back home, or email it all to yourself & archive it. If possible for a smart device, look into tracking software so when it grows legs, you can retrieve it.
Make friends with some of the older people working in housing/dining/support services for the school. They most likely have been there for years (sometimes decades) and can be a great source of information on what to do/avoid, where to go in your town to keep from getting screwed over by local businesses, who to go see about problems, etc.
If you have a car and are away from home and it needs service, do NOT wait til just before a break to get it looked at. Pretty much any reputable shop in the area will already be booked out a week solid at this point. Every christmas break, I always see people stuck in town for extra days, or possibly even the whole break, because they waited til the last day to get "something minor" looked at.
Shower. Every. Day. Same goes for brushing your teeth. Wash your clothes. Have one bad week where people don't want to be around you due to B.O. and you'll wreck any social life you were after.
Don't be the dickhead/asshole/nasty roomate. By the time it's time to move out of the dorms and get into off-campus housing, nobody will want to live with you.
Don't go out drinking everynight, it'll fuck your grades up and you'll notice a gigantic hole in your wallet.
Be interesting, go out and meet people. If you make friends in college that like to hang out in the room every Friday night, don't do that. Go get some action!
Talking to your professor is a big thing, depending on the size of the college it might be a good idea to get to know him/her, especially if they are going to be a professor in later semesters.
You will have sleepless nights. If you don't drink coffee/tea or caffeine products, you probably will by the time you graduate. That being said, if you had a long week, sleep in during the weekend, catch up on your sleep.
If you bring a car to campus, it doesn't mean you are everyone's personal taxi. Don't let people excessively use your car/use you to go places.
Go to class. This one gets lost on some people, but do the math, especially if you're the one paying for school. You're (usually) pre-paying, so you might as well get your money's worth.
Do your homework, and try to get ahead early. Assignments and projects stack up during midterms (doubly so during finals), and you'll be grateful you don't have to skip that 20-point assignment in order to meet your other obligations.
Stay organized. Make use of your smart phone, especially setting wake-up alarms in advance, calendar alerts for classes/meetings/etc. People forget stuff. You will too.
Save first and last names in your phone when getting people's contact information (obvious, I guess). You'll meet a ton of people, and it'll help you remember them.
Stay active. Depending on your school, you usually get access to a free gym. Find an hour 3x/week to go lift weights, run, or whatever else you do there. The endorphin release is a great way to lift your mood/fight stress. You can also get in better shape, which is pretty awesome for the self-esteem/health in general.
Eat right. If you combine this with #5, you can get in some of the best shape of your life. The way my school does it requires everyone to buy a meal plan with a set amount of "meals" per week. Each swipe of your student ID card at the cafeteria takes a meal off of your allowance, but its all you can eat. If you pick healthy foods and bring a to-go container in with you, you can eat pretty well.
Use caffeine sparingly. Sometimes you'll need to stay awake to power through a night of studying, and you'll want to be able to feel the effectiveness of that soda/coffee/energy drink. If you save your caffeine tolerance for when you really need it, you'll find you get a lot more done. I've been working at a coffee shop over the summer and can be asleep 1hr after drinking 3 shots of espresso. Getting myself off of a constant caffeine stream is one of my biggest priorities before the semester starts.
Network. As people in other threads have said, the biggest benefit of college is having a big group of people the same age with diverse experiences. You also are connected to a ton of employers and teachers. Attend career fairs, make friends with your professors by being an interested hard worker, and try to get outside your comfort zone. You'll meet people who will give you access to awesome parties, good jobs, and great relationships. These relationships are usually more important than what you actually learn in class.
NEVER skip class. I'f your using a laptop, type as much as you can in notes while still paying attention. Typing it out, in my experience, helps retain what is discussed.
Organize study guides for mid-terms and finals. The organizer normally gets a pass on actually having to do any reading etc.
Sit in the front of the room, around the second row. It will help discourage things like reddit'ing in class (I'm very guilty of this), and helps force you to pay attention.
Never, ever buy textbooks on campus. Rent on Chegg or find them used on Amazon or half.com.
Don't procrastinate. It's a very difficult trap to avoid, but doing your work early will make your life enormously less stressful.
Study groups are invaluable for the tougher classes, and if your university has free math tutoring, often grad students can explain things in much easier to understand terms.
Try and say something (comment or question) once per class, with the benefits Classy_As_Shit described.
Always skip the first stall in the bathroom, it's not worth it.
Leave your lanyard in your desk. It's a "Freshman" sign to represent that way.
Buy rain-boots. Sitting in class with soggy socks is no buenno.
Some people don't think this far ahead, but it is necessary to think about advice you can use while in college and also advice for life AFTER college. You don't want to graduate and realize you have no clue what you want to do with your life.
Do not however, submit the same paper to two classes. This is considered plagiarism at most universities.