I hear all of these rumors that most high school relationships will end by Thanksgiving of freshman year. Should I be worried about this? I’m in a relationship with my high school boyfriend still.

-In love, but nervous

Ah, so you’re afraid of the upcoming “Dumpsgiving” holiday.

Unless you’ve been stuck with the incredible luck of having them at a college close by (or, if they’re still in high school and you’re close to home), you’ll be dealing with the long-distance relationship first hand. Some work out well, while others tend to falter. The key to keep in mind is that most people really become the person they are while at college, and that evolution is swift and relentless.

If you and your boyfriend still stay together through these changes and difficulties, it’s because you truly have a strong bond. If it doesn’t work out, it really shouldn’t matter – college is like a Get out of Jail Free card – it’s a fairly new start to the game of life, in location, friends, and the person you are. You can break out of those old images that people had of you, especially if they were dead wrong. You have a second chance to show who you truly are and allow people to discover the person you are. You might even discover it yourself. Ultimately, it’s those discoveries, and the changes that come about from them, that will determine if your compatibility stays as strong as before. But if it doesn’t, there’s thousands of new people to meet, so life really isn’t that bad. Many people have come out of a relationship and met someone new – you’re young enough to take another stab at it.

It seems like upperclassmen have a knack for determining who freshmen are. How can they tell that one person is a freshman and another is not?

-Easily distinguished

Ooh, it’s like you’re handing me a target the size of Connecticut’

Well, let’s start with the tube top phenomenon. It seems like, without fail, freshmen find it the fashion of the year, especially at this time of year. One friend observed to me that one brave soul even wore it as a skirt this year. I don’t know what the attraction is to the tube top as a freshmen – maybe it’s an allergic reaction to the laxatives that are supposedly put in the cafeteria food.

Of course, then you have the herd or pack mentality (pick your word based on what kind of animal you think a freshman is). Freshmen seem to congregate in big crowds only seen during a New Year’s Eve Times Square celebration. You couldn’t separate them with a blowtorch. By the time sophomore year hits, however, the independent mind runs free again, and you’ll find people on their own, doing things at different times with different people.

Then of course, there’s the scientific anomaly in the documented magnetism freshmen have to their facilitators. It seems like that many freshman seem to cling tightly to them in the cafeteria or any other place they may run into them. You’ll usually see this problem at its worst when randomly you’ll see an upperclassman suddenly bolt and have five freshmen chasing after. That’s a pretty good giveaway.

I chalk all these things up to the simple fact that when you go to college, you’re merging into a highway of thousands of already established lives. The freshmen’s goal is to turn on the turn signal and merge in, making friends where they can. Until they make a lot of friends in all different parts of school, and are involved in different activities, they tend to cling onto those they’ve already gotten to know just to make sure they’re not all alone in this new world. I know that doesn’t address the tube tops, but fashion victims are generally on their own.

Of course, I’m writing this from an empty dorm room, so how should I know?

I hear all these rumors about the Freshman 15, where you gain 15 pounds as a freshman at college. Is this true?

-Watching my weight

I actually lost 15. Naa-naa.

It has to do as much with what you’re eating and how active you are as it does with being away from home and living life on your own for the first time. As a college freshman, you discover a life of Domino’s and other delivery delicacies that have as many calories as a lifetime supply of McDonald’s Big Macs.

Location can be key though. Freshman year I lived far away from the cafeteria – a ten minute walk was the gateway to dinner. So many times I ate less than I would at home, and if I did eat it would be a combo of food bought at Stop ‘ Shop, like salads, and the occasional Domino’s delivery. Well, to be honest, the Domino’s guy ended up getting to know me a bit by the end of the year. But I was also 15 minutes walk away from many of my classes, and all that exercise paid off.

Thanks to the miracle of on-campus gyms, large campuses, and Billy Blanks, there is a lot more ways to exercise nowadays, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Then again, there is the above-mentioned laxatives that might help too. But there’s always a way to lose it – just don’t lose your head in that all-you-can-eat buffet they call the cafeteria. It’s a ticket to gaining the Freshman 50 if you’re not careful. Thanks for asking.

Have a question you want answered? E-mail joconnell@fairfieldmirror.com and he may answer your question in a future A Word of Advice. Questions are answered online every Monday and Thursday. All questions answered in the column were submitted by college-age students and may have been edited for length and/or content.

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