Adapted from an article written by Melissa Beattie '07,
It seems like only yesterday when I was scrambling to prepare for my first year in college. I find myself wondering what I’ll do with all of my extra-long twin sheets now that I've graduated!
Being the oldest and first child in my family to attend college, I was very nervous about the high-school-to-college transition. I’d never lived on my own before, most of my friends were attending other universities, and I hadn’t shared a room with someone since I was five and reluctantly shared with my messy little sister. But the college transition was really not as hard as I thought it would be.
From somebody who has survived a successful freshman year, here are some tips and words of advice.
“Hi, um, nice to meet you. I will now be sharing a room with you”: Call or e-mail your roommate well before classes begin! Nothing is more awkward than having never spoken to your roommate until the day you’re both moving into a room smaller than the one you had all to yourself at home. Send them a link to Facebook, so they can get an instant feel for your interests. (Word of caution: Don’t post your home address on your Facebook, and be careful what personal or wild and crazy things you say! Facebook is open to the whole world, from unsavory characters to potential employers!)
Manage your time: Despite what you may have heard, college is not one big continuation of the movie “Animal House.” Anyone who thinks so and subsequently leads a raucous life at college usually ends up flunking out of school. Manage your time wisely so you can meet your course requirements while also maintaining a healthy social life. You'll receive a Student Handbook when you come to campus that has a great planner already included or you can create a Google Calendar to stay organized. Falling behind in school feels bad, and it can be stressful trying to catch up even when you’ve missed just a few class assignments.
Get to know your professors: Spark a conversation after class. Ask if they have any research opportunities available. (Professors are always looking for research assistants, and the experience looks great on your résumé!) A good relationship with your professors will really enhance your learning experience and is especially helpful if you find yourself struggling. They can also give you a heads-up on internships and jobs related to your field.
Choose class times wisely: Stick to your instincts: If you know you’re not a morning person, don’t sign up for an 8 a.m. class. If you often take afternoon naps, stay away from that 6 p.m. block class. This is your first, and probably last, opportunity to choose the times when you want to work, so take full advantage!
Get involved in student activities and volunteer: One of the best ways to meet new people is to join a club, sport, religious organization, special interest group, or publication. Can you think of a better way to meet people with similar interests to yours? Marymount has lots of opportunities to find your niche – specifically with Student Activities and our clubs and organizations and with Campus Ministry, which oversees volunteer opportunities. You can help out at a one-time event, do ongoing outreach in the community, or even participate in an alternative spring break. You’ll find that helping others will enrich your life!
Don’t be embarrassed to seek help for anxiety, depression, or stress: Listen to therapeutic music, read a good book on a sunny day, call your best friend, take a yoga class, and/or visit the Counseling Center. All these things can help you feel better. Your Orientation Leader, Peer Mentor, and Resident Assistant are also great resources. Don’t hesitate to ask for help!
There’s more to freshman dining than ramen noodles: Believe me, once you’ve eaten too much ramen (the classic college kid’s “breakfast/lunch/dinner”) you’ll become physically ill just seeing it at the grocery store. Without sounding too much like a mother, eat foods rich in vitamins, protein, grains, etc. Don’t abuse the all-you-can-eat options in the Dining Hall. Fatty foods may seem tantalizing at first, but you will feel their effects not only on your waistline but on your well-being. Junk food makes you feel sluggish (and worse, makes your skin break out beyond belief!)
Get to know Arlington and DC: Take time to explore your community. The weekend is a great time to check out museums, restaurants, concert venues, outdoor activities, and even research and internship possibilities. With the Marymount shuttle and the Metro system, it's easy to access almost any of the local sites.
Use common sense: Many freshmen let their guard down because they’re so used to the safety of their own home. Avoid walking alone in remote campus locations. (Marymount offers an on-campus escort service.) Close your curtains while dressing. Lock your doors when leaving your dorm room. Don’t drink anything that you did not open yourself. Respect and learn the power of “no.”
Have fun! This really goes without saying. Make time for yourself and friends while also maintaining good study habits. Immerse yourself in campus life and pursue off-campus activities. College is a time to explore, learn, and grow! Make the most of it!