Going to college can be a pretty unnerving experience because of all the uncertainty that accompanies it. I remember having trouble sleeping the night before I left home because I didn’t know what to expect at Rochester. Since then, I like to think I’ve gotten wiser. I thought I’d impart some of that knowledge to anybody who is also nervous about going to college because they don’t know what’s coming. Here are seven things I’ve learned over my first month as a college student:
1. Reading, so much reading. I was a full IB student, which was intense. But one of the few things it didn’t prepare me for was how much reading I would have to do in college. Before every Psych 101 class, I have to read a chapter in the textbook, which is about 30 pages. I also have articles I have to read before all my other classes. It adds up to a lot of reading. I’ve found it helpful to break up my readings. I’d start on the psych reading, get about ten pages of reading/notes done, read one of the articles for my writing class, take a break, read for my Brain and Cognitive Sciences class, read another writing class article, revisit my psych reading, and so forth. If a certain reading doesn’t have to be done for a few days, I like to do portions of it every day, rather than all of it in one. If I’m having trouble comprehending a reading, I do my best to get through it, then go back to it the next day after giving myself some time to think about it, ask for help, and/or get some rest.
2. Freedom can be a blessing and a curse. I’d say that my favorite thing about college so far has been how much freedom I get. I can decide when I go to bed, when I wake up, when and what I eat, which classes I take, and so much more. I love being able to run my own life without the rigid structure of elementary/middle/high school that I had endured for thirteen years. I feel great when I do my laundry, schedule a haircut, get out of bed several hours before my first class, and go to the gym when I want. Some people are not having such a good experience. It’s very important to have time management and organization skills so you can not waste the day and allow responsibilities to pile up. Before you graduate high school, I recommend practicing doing things that your parents have typically done for you or had to remind you to do, like scheduling appointments, laundry, reminding you to eat your veggies, and so on.
3. Don’t be intimidated by professors. On the first day of class, my Psych 101 professor told the class to call him Chris. He said that if we called him Professor Niemiec, he would call us Student (fill-in-the-blank last name). Believe it or not, they are people too, just like you and me, and they’re super willing to help you if you need it. I was having trouble understanding my Brain and Cognitive Sciences readings, so I emailed my professor. He validated my issue with scientific writing that’s about a hundred years old, told me that I don’t need to comprehend or remember details so much as the gist of the reading, and explained specifics that I didn’t understand.
4. There are other things to do on Friday/Saturday nights than going to parties. Every weekend I’ve had options for fun social activities. UR Late Night organizes events every weekend. Two Fridays ago, I went to a “big toy room,” which had huge versions of a cornhole toss, Jenga, Connect 4, Whack-a-Mole, and more. After that, I went to see The House with Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell. Last Friday, I went to a board game night, and this coming Saturday I’m going to go to a dodgeball tournament. If you want to get out of your room and/or be social on a Friday or Saturday night, but don’t want to party, there are alternatives!
5. Clubs, clubs, and more clubs! General interest meetings are fantastic. Aside from the free food they normally give to anybody who goes, it’s a good opportunity to learn more about clubs you might even be remotely interested in. I went to the general interest meeting for the Student Programming Board without knowing much about it, and now I’m an active member. Clubs are a great way to meet people and make friends, so join away!
6. Your body will probably have an adjustment period. I came to college determined not to gain the “Freshman 15.” I’ve been avoiding desserts and soda/juice, eating my fruits and veggies, and being overall aware of what I’m consuming. Despite this, I’ve gained a little weight. My RA went through a similar deal and said that it’s because your body is getting used to new kinds of food. For example, back home I hardly drank milk, but recently I’ve been drinking more of it, which I think has made my face break out a bit.
7. Be adventurous! Go to a meeting for a dance club even though you’ve never danced, try an intramural sport you’ve never played, take a class that sounds interesting but isn’t required for your major—try new things! I think my best example of being adventurous paying off was joining the Quidditch team. I had no background with it and frankly didn’t know people played it in real life, but it’s been a wonderful experience and I’m looking forward to playing in the future. Also, don’t be afraid to get off campus. I found a pet store at a mall that let you pet the animals and has a cat walking around. It was purrrr-fect for my feline-loving self.
8. It’s so exciting!!! I love Rochester so far and I’m so, so, soooo excited for what is to come!