Freshman Year – Crash Course…

So while making jewelry and blogging about random happenings may be one of my “jobs” I am also pursuing my teaching credential AND I worked for the last four years as a peer/civic mentor for University 101 a class run by the First Year Experience office at my college campus. Basically, I helped freshman transition into college without having any kind of meltdown. After a year as a freshman myself, and four years working with them (using all research-based approaches) I have some valuable insight I’d like to share with you:

1) Go to class.

I know, you’ve heard it before but seriously GO TO CLASS. Statistics show that just showing up even if you feel like you’re half asleep improves your grade. Professors notice and come finals when you’re freaking out and between a C and B if you made the effort to show up to class they will be so much more willing to take pity and help you.

2) Put your lanyard away 

I realize this is how you are storing your dorm key, but for God’s sake take it off in class and between class and PLEASE do not wear it out at night you might as well wear a neon sign saying FRESHMAN. Nothing gives you away quicker than a CA STATE Lanyard

3) Moderation 

When I go out and give talks to freshman classes I never stand up there and preach to them about the dangers of going out too much and how having a social life is not important you’re here to learn blah blah blah….because that would be hypocritical. I have done my fair share of “socializing” and I still maintained a high GPA.

A GPA high enough to qualify me to graduate with honors and special recognition for the highest GPA in my class (yes I’m bragging, but only because I had a 2.8 in high school so this smart kid stuff is new and exciting). I do however preach moderation. Too much social life and you flunk out and go home and then you’re really lame, not enough social life and you’ll lose it, fast.

4) Organize 

This saved my life. I got a daily planner I brought to class to jot down anything the professor reminded us about and had a larger calendar on the wall in my dorm marked with upcoming large projects like tests and papers so I could spot a particularly rough week coming in advance and prepare myself.

There’s no slack, no room to let things slip through you have to be on top of everything all the time. FYI: your syllabus is your contract with the professor, so if you’re absent whatever is on the syllabus is still your responsibility and they don’t like excuses.

5) Rush

No not like rush through things, rush a frat or sorority! I’m biased because I’m Greek but it’s seriously one of the best decisions I’ve made in college. My sisters changed my life, my sisters saved my life. They have outlasted every boy and every relationship and are my constant through all the crazy.

We have a saying about Greek life “from the outside looking in you can never understand it, from the inside looking out you can never explain it” and it’s so true you can’t really understand the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood you make in the Greek system, but they are truly unique.

6) You Are Liminal

Okay time to be a research nerd, liminality refers to being “betwixt and between” and in the case of a student moving from high school senior to college freshman they are between identities. Why is this important? Because you have to be aware of the idea that the identity that worked for you in high school may not (and most likely will not) work in college.

Ex: being a class clown, texting in class, acting like you don’t care because you’re afraid to fail, etc. Along with entering college be prepared to shape a new identity because most of your high school practices will get left behind

7) Find Your Niche 

Schools have clubs for EVERYTHING try a few things out and find your niche, find your people because this identity business I mentioned above, well the communities you associate yourself with will  shape those identities. Students who form strong relationships are more successful and more likely to graduate.

8) Depression Peaks at Midterms 

We used to schedule our University 101 class to go over mental health and wellness around this time because studies show it’s when depression peaks. Midterms may be the first time you really see your grades and students who thought they were doing swimmingly find out they are failing and it’s a huge shock.

This is halfway through the semester and homesickness is probably setting in as well. Knowing that you are susceptible to feel particularly down around this time can help you prepare for and combat it

9) Don’t YOLO too Hard….

I get that college is all “OmG YoU oNlY lIvE oNcE” (uh it took me forever to type that…), but this is real life and these things may come back to bite you. “What happened last night will be on facebook tomorrow” is a good way to think of things, I also like the saying “if you don’t want people to know about it, don’t do it”

10) Don’t take it too seriously 

I’ve seen more freshman get worked into a frenzy over the smallest things, deal with it one problem at a time and move on you’re going to be okay and your life is not over. Deep breaths….now get out of my way.

The Greatest 4 Years of Your Life.

In a couple months school will start up again and for a lot of tittering freshman it means wondering what exactly they want out of their college experience. I started my 4 year journey (yes, yes I am one of the proud few who managed to graduate in 4 years) as a second chance to live up to what I never was in high school. I was a crap student in high school and I wanted to do better in college and have my choice of any graduate program I wanted, a choice I didn’t really have for undergraduate, and I did just that. I graduated Cum Laude with the Outstanding LBST Student Award for the highest GPA in my class. But, as corny as this may sound, I graduated with so much more than that. I graduated with 120 sisters, a boyfriend, a run of ex’s, amazing memories, and 4 years of greatness I wouldn’t trade for the world.

I work in First Year Experience where part of my job is to give speeches to freshman about being successful in college and I always wrap those talks with the advice that to be truly successful in college you have to have fun. Find your second family, whether its a Greek family or just a misfit crew of friends just find your niche and embrace it. I remember giving my talk to a group of first years just a few months into my senior year and trying to explain to them how I was tearing up making the powerpoint because it was finally hitting me that, for me, it was the beginning of all my first lasts.

I was staring at these totally blank faces as I tried to make them see that it’s all over too soon. It ends too soon. There was this night, a bit trashy to be totally honest but, a night I wouldn’t trade for the world – a guy, not my boyfriend (never was), this guy that I was always sort of back and forth with we were never together but always had some weird connection, anyways he was always sort of pushing me beyond myself making me do things totally out of character. So this night, after some err drinking, we climbed through the attic of his frat house and onto the roof and in a totally cheesy scene plucked straight from a rom-com we just sat up there looking at the stars and then looking down at drunk people and mocking them. That moment, for me, is always the one that I remember when I think of college not that it was that particular guy just, that moment of doing something stupid and out of character and cliche. That was college for me.

I will never forget the roommates who bought me a bottle of vodka when I went through the worst break-up I’ve ever had, they were the first friends I ever cried in front of. Then there was the time we dressed up like ghosts and drove around scaring people. Greek week and a new boyfriend, even if it took me until Halloween to get him to figure out I was trying to get his attention ;). Sleepovers and late nights, the Cave room rules, little sisters, big sisters, black outs, stories, and love – I fell in and out of love with boys and most importantly I fell in love with my best friends. I would give up every grade point for those moments and memories.

 

 

Take it from someone who’s been there. It ends way too soon, and way before you’re ready.