Greetings, freshmen. Welcome to college – the place where over the next four years you will grow intellectually, emotionally, and begin to discern the ambiguities that are your future. Sounds easy, right? Think again. Though college is arguably one of the most enriching and exciting chapters of life, it is not an easy adjustment.
However, the adjustment can be a fun challenge and certainly a learning experience. During this journey, it is important to take into consideration advice from your elders. Yes, the big scary seniors who have already endured three full years of this intimidating environment.
Remember just one year ago when the first day of school arrived and you woke up to the same alarm clock that has been waking you up at the same time for the past four years of high school? Only last time it was your senior year – the highly anticipated “top of the food chain” status you dreamt about since your freshman year.
This year is a different story. When you wake up on your first day of class, there is no bell to signal the beginning of first period, and you will not get a detention for being late. If you are late, too bad. Welcome back to the bottom of the food chain.
The University provides a great freshmen orientation in which students get to know each other, begin to get comfortable around campus, and meet upper classmen that offer some guidance and encouragement. It is very important to attend orientation mostly because you will be provided with vital academic and advising information that will help you throughout your years at Monmouth.
However, if orientation was run solely by students, freshmen would get a much rawer version of what you need to know as a freshman. This article is not an invitation to a student organized freshman orientation. However, it is an incitement to read into some “fun facts” for freshmen that may have been overlooked, or just vaguely touched upon at orientation.
1. Start with an intellectually open mind.
Everyone has a dream career they remember from childhood. It is wonderful to have these aspirations, however, you will quickly realize that your dreams may change once you are exposed to a variety of academia in different mediums.
My advice is to begin freshman year undeclared, and conquer the general education requirements during your first two semesters. This way, you will have a well-rounded schedule that may spark some interests you never knew you had. Keep an open mind!
2. Prepare for more freedom.
You will have much more freedom – not only in the sense of being away from your parents, but the freedom of creating your schedule, having multiple hours between classes, and maybe even a day off in between. It is easy to abuse the flexibility of our schedules and fall off track.
Use your time wisely, and expect to plan your days around your class times. Go to the library or student center when you have a break to make good use of your free time. This way, when the weekend comes, you won’t have to worry about all the work you didn’t do in between classes when you decided to go to the beach instead.
3. Expect to read, A LOT.
No matter what subject you study, the amount of reading you will have to do is dramatically higher than that of high school. My advice – do the reading! It is easy to give up when you have 70 pages of reading sitting in front of you for one class assignment. However, professors often base their exams off of reading assignments. They will not go over these readings word for word. That is where you come in. Highlight what you find is important, and ask questions in class to show your interest and curiosity.
4. Go to class.
Sounds silly, right? I am sure you’re thinking, “Of course I’ll go to class, every day, and even be 15 minutes early!” Re-think that statement two weeks after classes begin and the beautiful September rays of sun are spilling through the windows during your three-hour class. Class doesn’t sound so appealing anymore does it? Best of all, no one is going to call your parents to tell them you didn’t go. Ah, temptation. This is where your will power must prevail.
Professors at Monmouth take attendance very seriously, as they should. You are paying for an education and expected to learn and participate. Missing too many classes can ruin your grade, even if you are an A+ student. There is a simple solution – just go to class.
5. Enjoy living in the dorms.
Commuting my first semester of college was one of my biggest regrets. Luckily, I made great friends who were happy to have me visit them in the dorms. Dorm life is an important part of adapting to college. It is a perfect way to meet people and get a taste of living away from home with a roommate. There is always someone to talk to in the dorms, and almost always something going on for students to participate in. Best of all, you avoid the ravenous parking lot jungle, which accounts for a great deal of student’s tardiness.
6. Do Something.
Recently there was a VH1 award show special called the “Do Something Awards”. Young Americans from all over the country were honored for their philanthropic efforts. Candidates were as young as 18 years old, and made profound impacts on their communities by helping others. The show was very inspiring, and is beneficial for all college students to watch. With that said, get involved and do something.
Opportunities for volunteering and working with communities are at your fingertips. Whether it is through a fraternal organization or other club, it is not only a great way to spend your free time, but is a wonderful retionship and resume builder. I can almost guarantee you will have no regrets by helping others, and seeing what the local community at Monmouth has to offer.
7. Seriously consider studying abroad.
As a London alumni, I am admittedly biased to the study abroad program – for perfectly valid reasons. A semester away is by far one of the most valuable opportunities offered in college. You have the opportunity to travel the world, establish international relationships, and fully immerse yourself in culture, all while being a college student. To me, that is the ultimate combination. Though many might want to hold off on traveling until after graduation, I can tell you that this type of travel opportunity will never pose itself again. If you are the least bit curious, at least check out an information session. You will not be disappointed.
8. Expect a change in your relationships from high school.
This fact might hit home with a lot of freshmen who have close ties existing from high school. Whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is understanding that relationships will change now that you are out of high school. This is not to say that you will lose all contacts from the past, because that is certainly not true. Just be aware that everyone goes through a transition phase, and grows up a lot during the first year of school.
You will probably find yourself in a whole new place once the first semester is over. Embrace it. People change and it’s just part of life. Not everything and everyone will be the same when you go home, and that’s okay.
9. Establish relationships with your professors.
One of the many beauties of Monmouth is its small class size. Students truly get to know one another, especially once they have chosen a major. Professors are accessible, and more than willing to get to know their students to assist them with their studies, career goals, and overall experience.
The staff at Monmouth has invaluable contacts and real life experience that they are willing to share with students who put their best foot forward. Take advantage of this. You never know when your relationships can come in handy.
10. HAVE FUN!
Last, but certainly not least, enjoy your freshman year as much as possible. The time goes by in the blink of an eye. Just three years ago, I sat in my first college class, nervous and excited for my journey to begin. Now, I want nothing more but to go back to the beginning. Savor the moments that truly define what college is all about, as it only comes once.
PHOTO COURTESY of monmouth.edu