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Home Opinion Advice to the Freshmen

by Mary Carnoali


As the valedictorian of your high school was surely obligated to tell you last May: congratulations! You did it! After four years of standardized testing, college-credit courses and a seemingly endless pile of scholarship applications, you’re finally ready to try your hand at this whole higher education thing. If it helps, just a few months from now, most of you will have completely forgotten how stressful high school was and, like the rest of us, be more than willing to look sagely down on those poor high school students who “just don’t know what true struggle is.” But for now, you’re here, waiting to start your first few days in the life of a college student and probably looking for some advice along the way. So, from someone who was once in your shoes, here’s a few words of wisdom to help get you through your freshman year.

  1. Don’t try to start papers at the beginning. You’ll just stare at it forever. I know this because I always start at the beginning, and it took me 20 minutes of staring blankly at the page, an hour and a half of fine-tuning my music selection and a full three hours of inspiring myself through various internet memes for me to even start writing this article.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take your own advice once in awhile.
  3. Don’t wear your lanyard around your neck. That’s the coward’s way. The true heroes are the ones that would rather lock themselves out of their dorm room twice in one week than to give in and wear their ID around their neck in what’s arguably the intended and most secure way. Also, it looks ridiculous.
  4. Walk on the right, like a car on a road. And for all those British foreign exchange students out there, welcome to America! Now, walk on the right.
  5. Be aware of bicycles. They don’t stay on the right or the left. They’re silent and deadly and will mow you down.
  6. Get to know your professors. They’re usually really cool. And even if they’re not, they still get paid to pass or fail your hopes and dreams, and that’s pretty cool, too.
  7. Letters of recommendation matter, people. Keep that in mind at all times.
  8. Go to events. Not just sports events. Go to plays and concerts too. I’m not even going to make a joke out of this. Plays and concerts are amazing.
  9. Walk faster. Like, in general, please.
  10. The Rivoli only takes cash. Specifically, they take the six dollars worth of quarters that you were going to save for laundry but now have no choice but to spend.
  11. Join The Sower. (I hear it’s all the rage.)
  12. Not everyone has the same college experience, so don’t let yours be ruined because it doesn’t look like somebody else’s.
  13. You missed the time that classes were cancelled due to snow. It probably won’t happen again. This isn’t a piece of advice so much as it is me rubbing it in.
  14. Don’t double park. They will find you. And they will fine you.
  15. You may think to yourself, “You know, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. every day in high school for class. There’s no reason I can’t do that now.” You’re wrong. You can’t.
  16. Group projects are the worst. Everyone knows it. Just don’t be the person that makes it that way, please.
  17. Your computer has a special sensor on it that can tell when you’re trying to submit something at 11:59 p.m. the day it’s due. It will freeze up. I’m not saying you shouldn’t procrastinate. I’m just saying to leave yourself a few extra minutes and try not to hurl your computer at the wall.
  18. Talk in your philosophy class, even if you don’t know what they heck you’re talking about. It’s philosophy. No one knows what the heck they’re talking about.
  19. Your ACT scores don’t matter anymore. So, you know how you got a 32, but you were kind of disappointed because you only managed to raise it to a 33, which is one point below the cutoff for a lot of scholarships you really wanted, and you felt like you didn’t quite reach the full academic potential commonly expected of the class salutatorian? Yeah, no one cares.
  20. Take your gen eds first. You don’t know what you’re doing with your life yet, and if you do know what you’re doing with your life, then you don’t want to be spending the senior year of a music education major trying desperately to remember everything you learned about making potato batteries in a 10th grade physics class you took 6 years ago.
  21. The cure for stress is wings and a milkshake from the Dog House, capping out your internet with your favorite TV show and getting yelled at by your roommate for spilling bbq sauce on the couch again.
  22. Garage sales. That’s all I’m saying.
  23. If you don’t have a car, find somebody with a car and exploit them for all their worth. If you do have a car, I need someone to take me to Walmart sometime this week. No rush, it’s fine.
  24. Try to inject some semblance of order into your computer files. You may not believe me now, but you’ll mark my words when you’re up at 2 a.m. desperately trying to find an essay that you know you saved, but can’t find because you, in a moment of extreme academic apathy, named it some random combination of the home row letters on your keyboard.
  25. Finally, it’s important to note that, at its core, college is about opening your mind up to new ideas. Right now, you know nothing. Your professors will teach you a lot of it, and if you’re lucky, you’ll figure out some of the rest for yourself.

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