As of 4:51 EST, my freshman academic year is over. It really was cathartic when I handed in my FYP exam booklet. Professor Kee was one of the very first professors that I met, and he has been one of my professors for the entire year. He really helped me strengthen my writing skills, and challenged me to always write above my potential. When he shook my hand and told me to have a nice summer, my freshman year was officially over.
With a year’s worth of experience on the hill, I’ve decided to create a “Do’s and Don’ts” list for the incoming first-year students to help you all prepare for and enjoy your freshman year.
• Do join at least one club. Try something new. Get as involved as you can. You’ll meet upperclassmen who have probably taken some of your classes, know their way around Worcester, and understand what it’s like to be a freshman.
• Do take a challenging upper-level course your freshman year if you can. I’m very glad that I took US Intelligence Communities with Professor Bunke. That class pushed me to do my absolute best, and I also had a fantastic professor that I’m probably only would have met my senior year. So, if there’s an upper-level class that interests you, take the initiative, and contact that professor to see if he or she will let you in.
• Do speak up in class. Show your professors that you read the material before class, and that you know what you’re talking about.
• Do utilize your professors’ office hours. Even if you had a question or just wanted to talk about a reading for class, talk to them in their office. When you have a paper due, go and talk to your professors about your topic. Even if you don’t have any questions about your paper, talk to them to see if they have any suggestions (they are brilliant people, so they’re bound to have some) for you. I really cannot stress this enough!
• Speaking of papers, do go to the Writers’ Workshop. It’s always beneficial to have another pair of eyes read over what you’ve written (especially if your paper is worth 25% or more of your grade), and your professors are alerted if you received help from a writing tutor. It’s basically a free tutorial in writing. Why not take advantage of it?
• Do take advantage of Worcester. This is a very vibrant city. Do what my friends and I did one sunny Saturday – take the Woo Bus into town, go explore along Main, Center, and Franklin streets. Find some restaurants that you like. (For future reference, get the eggplant lasagna at Brew City. It is fantastic.) Find some shops. Even though there’s free transportation to Boston and Providence, you don’t have to leave Worcester every weekend to find something entertaining.
• Do bring an external hard drive or some other form of external back up. I was lucky that I had an external hard drive with me when my computer randomly crashed. If not, all of my files might have been damaged. Save all of your papers, music, photos, and other information to it.
• Do bring a rug, fan, and lamps to college. The bigger the rug, the better. Fans are key during August and September. You will need as many lamps as you can fit in your dorm room.
• Do work at Kimball if you can. You will meet so many other freshmen and also get about fifty dollars each week. That fifty dollars goes a long way in college, trust me. I didn’t want to work at first, but now I’m very glad that I did. Plus, I’ll be a Kimball captain next year, so you should definitely sign up for one of my shifts. Just kidding. Well, sort of.
• My parents are going to kill me for this one, but do use Facebook during the summer to get to know some other freshmen. I met Katie through Facebook, and we’ve been friends ever since. There’s a Holy Cross 2012 group on Facebook, and that’s a great place to go if you have any questions or concerns about absolutely anything regarding your freshman year. However, a word of caution. Do not get addicted to Facebook!
• And, lastly, bring a camera. I only posted maybe a tenth of the pictures that I took on my blog. Even if your friends think you’re weird for carrying a camera around with you everywhere (yes, my friends do), it’s a great way to remember your freshman year. Carrie and I were looking at her photos last night, and we were crying from hysteria over a couple of them.
• Don’t take a class for just a requirement. Explore the different required areas you have for courses that genuinely interest you. Two of my courses next semester genuinely interest me, but they also fulfill two requirements.
• Don’t bring all the clothes in your closet. Believe me, if you haven’t worn it in the past three weeks, don’t bring it. You will not wear it. You can always go shopping for clothes if you didn’t bring enough, but trying to stuff all your clothes into boxes to go back home is a pain. Believe me, I’m going through this right now.
• If you live close to Holy Cross, do not go home every weekend. There are always events on campus, and you truly miss out on the college experience if you’re always at home. Go home when you need to, and leave it at that.
• Don’t spread yourself too thinly. Time management is so essential in college.
• Most importantly, try not to pull an all-nighter. I have only pulled one all-nighter this entire year, and I think that my body is still trying to recover from it. It’s just not worth it. Whatever you write will not be erudite at all; if you’re lucky, it will be somewhat understandable. Sleep is important.
• Lastly, do not under any circumstances get addicted to Cool Beans. You will spend all of your dining dollars within a few weeks.
And that’s about all of my advice for all the incoming freshmen out there. Your freshman year will be difficult, but if you take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to you here at Holy Cross, then it’ll be much easier.