Advice for Freshmen

Tips from a Second Year

My freshmen year was an… experience. I guess since I’m writing the advice article, I should probably jump right in and explain the first lesson you’ll need to learn: You are going to change exponentially over the next nine months. Saying that may sound unsettling, but trust me, it will all be for the better. I’ll do my best to not regale you with the same “you’re an adult now!” quotes that you’ve become so accustomed to. So, here’s the best actual advice I can give you. 

I changed a lot over my freshmen year. However, I’m happy with the person I’ve become. So, as mentioned, my first piece of advice is that you should not be afraid to change. Change is a great thing, and you should feel encouraged to adapt yourself and your worldview to the diverse community around you. Sadly, you’re not really an adult yet (I don’t say that to be condescending, I myself am a dumb 19-year-old), but a real sign of maturity is the willingness to change when needed.  

You do not want to stay the same person you were as a high school senior. As a second year student, I’m sure my fellow sophomores and above can relate to the frustration of interacting or working with someone who acts like they never left high school. Please be open to growing and changing your mind, and welcome the natural maturing that comes along with being in college.

A second piece of advice for the beginning of the year: Don’t be sad if you don’t remain friends with the giant group of people you sit with in a class or eat with at the dining center. While I encourage you to meet and stay in contact with new people, it is natural to move on from people as the year goes on. Sometimes schedules don’t line up, sometimes you realize you don’t really like a person as much as you thought, etc. 

The great part about being at college is that you have more of a choice about who you see. I remember meeting dozens of new people over the first month at college, yet I can’t remember the last time I hung out in a group of more than four or five (at least, I can’t remember the last time I actually had a good time hanging out in a group of more than five). So, go meet new people, but don’t be upset if they don’t stay.

Here comes the cliche advice: Get involved on campus: join clubs, hall government, student government, etc. Most clubs are pretty low commitment, but you may find after a few meetings that you would like to be more involved! Take an anecdote from me: I joined Psych Club simply because of my psychology major, but I ended up meeting so many amazing people and loving the experience so much, I ran for and won the position of Secretary for this academic year! It has helped me get more involved in my department and with people in my major!    

As a side note, though I love all my friends in Greek Life and appreciate that they love it, do not feel like you need to join a frat or sorority to have a good college experience. Your college experience is about you and what you want to do, and if that involves Greek Life, great! If Greek Life isn’t for you or you just can’t afford it, that’s okay! Don’t let FOMO be the reason for a serious time, energy, and financial commitment like that. Join Greek Life for the people and the causes, not for the social status.  

Then, of course, there’s the slightly more niche stuff: Don’t ever trust the bookstore when they say they have the lowest prices. The ceiling in the back of the Union Dining Center is vaulted and very echoey, so if you are trying to have a private conversation, everyone will hear it. 

Take advantage of our lovely green spaces outside; I know it’s hot right now, but you will miss the flowers and trees tremendously when the never-ending winter rolls in. Explore all the buildings even if you don’t have a class in them, because when winter does come, you’ll find that a lot of the buildings are connected and you can sometimes make it back to your dorm with minimal outside time.   

The Student Health Center in the Welly is always handing out free condoms; they also have a great pharmacy where you can go get medicine when you inevitably get sick at some point this year. Take advantage of all the awesome services that you are already paying for!  

And the greatest advice you’ll hear all day (from me, a definitely unbiased source): Read The Spectrum! It’s how you’ll hear about awesome things happening on campus, lets you hear about what other students think and feel, and is a really great way to uniquely learn about campus and the people here. 

So, with the most enthusiasm a cynical, soulless sophomore can muster, have a great Freshman year. Do your best, take care of yourself, wear your seatbelt, and make some great Parent Lore to tell your future children!  

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