Well I guess it’s that time once again – time to rouse the brain from its summer slumber and start preparing for another year on the hill. If you followed my blog at all last year, you know how much I enjoyed my first two semesters at HC, so it should come as no surprise that I’m excited to see what Sophomore year will be like for me and for my classmates.
If you’re an incoming freshman, you’re undoubtedly feeling the peaks and valleys of the emotional rollercoaster that we all ride on the way to our first post-secondary year. I know that at this time last year I was full of questions. I had no idea what college held in store for me, and I hadn’t the slightest idea what to do when I got there. Having spoken with my friends and classmates, I get the sense that most people felt just as lost as I did on my first day at school.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, the members of the Class of 2014, rest assured. I’m here to help. Welcome to your pocket guide for freshman year. I learn something new about college every single day, so I won’t pretend I’ve got it all figured out. But I’ve completed my first year, and that’s probably the only year that you’re thinking of right now.
The following is the best, most condensed advice I can offer to make your transition as smooth as possible.
1. Dive In – Whether you’re a social butterfly or something of a hermit, this is the single-most important piece of advice. College is going to pick you up and throw you into the pool of new experiences no matter what, so you might as well make a stylish splash as you go (just make sure you get your phone out of your pocket). If your summer orientation was like mine, you probably stepped out of your comfort zone once or twice. Maybe you embarrassed yourself. Yeah, you probably did. All I can say is, embrace the awkwardness. You know what? I had to do the Beyonce Single Ladies dance when I was there. Did I feel comfortable with that? Not at all. But neither did the guy next to me, or the girl next to him. You’re all in it together, so bond with your classmates. Holy Cross knows what it’s doing to get you started on the right track, so trust them. Once fall orientation ends, the new experiences will continue. Just remember that what’s new for you is new for everyone. You’re not alone.
2. Leave your Door Open – Only if you’re inside the room, of course. This is probably the easiest way to meet and make friends with your neighbors. If you’re not hard at work or doing anything that requires privacy, give others the chance to wander in and chat. On the flip side, make an effort to wander around yourself and strike up some conversation with the other people whose open doors give off the ‘me casa es su casa’ vibe. Look for posters or other indicators of what your neighbors are interested in and you’ll undoubtedly find out how much you have in common.
3. Be Patient – One of the most popular comments I heard during my first few days on campus was “I just want to start classes.” During fall orientation I heard a lot of complaints from peers about how many sessions we had to attend and how early we had to get up. A lot of kids wanted to get away from the structured schedule and get a taste of some of that much heralded freedom that we all heard so much about in the months leading up to school. As delicious as the post-orientation independence is though, I can tell you that I met all of my best friends, except for one, in my fall orientation group. Orientation gave me the chance to get to know the people I’d be living with (and, you know, get oriented) and that early opportunity to bond proved effective enough to last us an entire year and counting. That being said, if you don’t feel that the kids in your orientation group are the birds of your feather, don’t fret – there is certainly no shortage of places to meet people once you get to school.
4. Don’t Forget the Academics – This is probably the most important piece of advice, but it fell to number four on the list because no one wants to hear it. Nevertheless, don’t let this one slip through the cracks. Though at first it may not seem like it, college is indeed school. There are classes, labs, practicums, homework, study groups, tests, quizzes, presentations…all those little bundles of sunshine we adored so much in high school (if you’re wondering where that last comment landed on the Sarcasm Scale, it was a 6, maybe a 7). Regardless of how moving in, meeting people, and getting acquainted with the campus plays out, make sure you take the time to shake off the dust and the cobwebs that summer may have spun in your brain. Many who suffered from Senioritis in high school coasted for the final semester, or maybe even all of senior year. Well its time to strap it back in my friends. Put the foot back on the academic accelerator and buckle up. If you’re mentally prepared for class before class actually starts, you’ll be fine. No one should feel academically overmatched – HC doesn’t accept students who aren’t up to snuff.
And that’s about it. You may be reading this and thinking, ‘Wait, what? That’s all he’s going to tell us?’ Well, yes. Those are the basics. I hammered in the first couple of nails and built the frame of the metaphorical house of college experiences, and now it’s up to you to furnish it and make it your own.
If you’re dying to know something that I didn’t cover, you have a couple of options. First, be sure to check out the posts I wrote during freshman year while I was experiencing my first two semesters. In fact, check out all of the blogs written by all of the bloggers. No other resource will paint a more accurate and complete picture of what life is really like at Holy Cross. If you’re still burning with more questions, feel free to comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to college. I think you’ll like what you’ll find.