Hello, future freshman! A year ago I was just like you, reading everything I could about BU, learning the acronyms, measuring the distance from my dorm to class on Google Maps, asking current students for the ins and outs of this mysterious new home of mine. That’s when I stumbled upon Culture Shock’s Dear Freshmen letters, and I read every single one eagerly, lapping up the wisdom of BU students. Now, I’m going to write you my own tips! This first part will apply to all colleges (I think), and Part 2 will make my advice a little more BU-specific.
- Find some upperclassmen to look up to.
They’ll open up your mind and make you realize things- People actually talk about real issues? It’s not lame anymore to stress about a test? It is possible to ignore the Black Hole of Internet and do work? Other freshmen are great, because you’ll get to see yourself mature in them. But these upperclassmen are the reason you will mature.
- Talk to people in elevators.
Or anywhere, really. I hit a slump around the middle of the year where I just felt lost- like everyone had already made their friends and I couldn’t really shuffle my way into a group. I’d feel so much better when I made someone laugh with a comment about my beat-up laundry bag or an honest reply to the question, “How are you?”; I’d say that I was really freaking hungry, but I ran out of meals for the week, and isn’t it silly that I’m hoarding the apples my roommate brings me from the dining hall? Honesty sets up a longer conversation.
- Don’t room with a bestie/expect to be BFF’s with your roommate.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love my roomie and she still loves me (right, Nikki?!), but we both agreed that it would have been better if we had stuck to our normal hang out rate- as in, not living with each other and seeing each other all the time. It’s exhausting to try to be best friends for that much time a week. And yeah I know I know you guys are different and your relationship isn’t like most… Trust me. Just get lunch weekly. The best roommates do their own thing but respect each other’s space and habits.
- Try to plan out your future?!
Not in a gross, intimidating way, though, promise! If you have a major picked (it’s okay if you don’t), look at the courses you’ll have to take and construct a sketchy outline of when you would take them in the next 4 years. I’ll admit that this is what made me realize I couldn’t handle being a math major- THIRTEEN MATH COURSES?! Also, when I did this I realized I had 10 open courses because of AP’s and whatnot; so why was I considering overloading and summer courses? Lastly, I realized that studying abroad would fit best for me into the fall of sophomore year, and I was able to apply in time.
- CLASS GOES SO MUCH FASTER IF YOU’RE ENGAGED IN IT.
I take notes on unlined paper so I can draw strange flowcharts of ideas and clouds around pop culture references I don’t understand and need to Google when I get home.. Take notes. You think you’ll remember that brilliant idea you had for a paper because IT WAS SO GOOD but you won’t. If you have a discussion style class, talk! I don’t care how shy you are. Everyone else is too. Oh, and it really adds to the class dynamic if you refer to your classmates by name.
- Professors want to help you learn.
If you go to them and ask questions, or even creepily mention that you discovered he is a published poet when you Googled his name, your professor will talk to you. Also, when you’re writing a paper, go to them even if you think you’re golden. They’re incredibly smart and will give you new ideas so you can take out the passive voice that you included just to reach the word limit! It also has an effect on your grade- they’re less willing to mark down on something that they actually contributed to. It’s a sneaky trick, I know.
THAT’S NOT ALL, FOLKS! For some more tips and memories, see Part 2.