Freshman Year: Good Idea, Bad Idea

It’s your freshman year of college- no parents, no one to tell you when to wake up, or that you need to go to class today. Alcohol is probably easier to get than ever, and we don’t even need to mention the co-ed situation. With all this on hand (at some schools more than others) American Pie 2 seems to have become a dream come true.

STOP!

While the temptation is intense, it is crucial not to fall into the freshman year sink-hole, trust me, I’m speaking from an unfortunate amount of experience…

When I talk about the freshman year sink-hole, what I’m referring to is the tendency for many first-year college students to put their schoolwork on the back burner, and to over indulge in and test the limits of their newly found freedom.

Don’t get me wrong, have fun and lots of it (that’s basically half the benefit of not living with your parents anymore), but don’t forget the all the tests and essays and applications it has taken you to get to this first year. So many students, probably the majority, forget why they’ve worked so hard to get into their college in the first place; This is the institution that you have decided is best suited to fulfill your academic and overall life ambitions, and it’s nearly impossible to accomplish much of anything with a hangover.

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Finding the balance in this new, fast-paced environment can be tricky, but once you’ve got your groove going, you’ll find that keeping work and play at a balance isn’t nearly as hard as it may seem. After all, you can’t spell “school” without “cool”!

Wow… that was lame… like, REALLY bad. I apologize, let’s try to forget that ever happened.

Moving forward, here my personal top 3 ‘good ideas’ ‘bad ideas’ to help you get an idea of how to ease your way into the most fun and educational year of your life:

  1. 1. Good Idea: Keep your dorm-room door open during your down time. It’s a great way to say “Hey, come on over and be my friend!” without sounding desperate (you’ll seriously be surprised by how many people come stick their heads in. Make sure your roommate is okay with this, of course.Bad Idea: Keep your dorm-room door open all the time. You want to get to know your neighbors, but they’re probably not that eager to see your dance routine to ‘Single Ladies’ in your underwear. Respect people’s privacy by minding your own.
  1. 2. Good Idea: Go to your professor’s office hours once every other week or so. It’s amazingly helpful to be on a first-name basis with some of your tougher teachers. Showing them that you’re interested in what they do for a living and that you value their feedback could be the difference between getting a B- instead of a C+ when final grading time comes along (and yes, it does impact your GPA).Bad Idea: Become your professor’s shadow. I did it, more than a few times, and I’m not particularly proud of it… It’s one thing to show your professor that you’re interested in their subject, but for all you curious-types out there, listen and listen well: Either your textbook or Google can answer most of your questions. Teachers have lives too, and the line between “curious” and “annoying” in very thin.
  1. 3. Good Idea: Spend some alone time. One of my biggest fears the beginning of my freshman year was eating alone at the student dining hall. I held on to the high school idea that if you’re sitting alone, you must be some sort of loser. Quite the contrary, I learned that sitting by yourself with a book or newspaper can actually make you seem intriguing to onlookers. A lot of things that people considered “lame” in high school is often viewed as mature and attractive in a college setting. In fact, a lot of people I ended up befriending later said they were always curious about me, but were too intimidated to come introduce themselves! (Let me state for the record: I am the most docile, nerdy, friendly person ever)Bad Idea: Latch on to another person or group of people. There are very few things in the social sphere that are more annoying than a tag-along. Those who invite themselves or put others in a position where it would be awkward NOT to invite them is a quick way to have people making up excuses not to hang out, or just generally avoid you. Be yourself! There are much more people here than there were in high school, and there WILL be people who will think you’re simply the coolest kid on campus