First year anywhere is difficult. You have to adjust to a whole new environment, befriend a group of strangers, and leave your familiar routine behind. Sometimes the change can take a toll on you and become overwhelming, but the most important thing is to always remember the reason you’ve decided to make these changes. If you’re a first year at Rochester, here are some common mistakes first years (including myself, long ago) make.
1. Not maintaining a semi-regular sleep schedule.
Living away from family and curfews often leads to watching Netflix and the sunrise together. While this type of living may sound extremely fun and attractive, it becomes a problem once it develops into your regular schedule. Believe it or not, you still have classes to attend the next day and not having enough sleep can have a detrimental effect on your grades and mental and physical health. Try to maintain a semi-regular sleep schedule, and if you didn’t get enough sleep the night before, recharge with naps throughout the day!
2. “Forgetting” to call your family at least once a week.
Meeting new people and socializing with them is exciting and key to having a great college experience. However, there are people at home who miss you and think about you a lot (hint: your parents or guardians), and they may also be financially supporting you. Call them at least once a week to fill them in on what’s going on in your life. Trust me, as you get older, you will be glad that you took the time to tell your family that you love them.
3. Overdosing on that caffeine.
Being away from home and having unlimited access to Starbucks on campus means you will eat when you’re not hungry and drink three ventis a day. If you believe that you need to eat everything at the dining hall to “get your money’s worth,” here’s something interesting that I learned in economics: that money is deadweight loss, which basically means that no matter how much food you eat, you’re never getting that money back. The “freshman 15” exists; that myth is not a myth. Be conscious of what you put in your body and at what time of day.
4. Cutting class.
I cannot stress this enough—don’t cut class! Some time in the middle of the semester when the weather gets colder and the blankets feel more snuggly, you will convince yourself to skip class for the day and to “take it easy.” Don’t do that. No matter how much freedom you think you have, you are still in college to have an education.
5. Being scared to talk to your professors.
Trust me, I’m still a little hesitant to talk to my professors sometimes. It’s definitely intimidating and might feel awkward, but remember that professors are always more than happy to talk to you. Try staying after class one day to ask them a question or visit their office hours to chat. Not only will you learn a lot from just talking to them, but it’s helpful to know professors for recommendation letters or job questions in the future. Many professors at Rochester are friendly and wonderful people who love talking with their students!
6. Not thinking at all about your future.
Yes, it’s only your first year, but you also only have four years at school before you’re thrown into the real world. The University of Rochester has many wonderful academic and non-academic opportunities that are accessible to you if you only take the time for them. I personally regret not thinking enough about my plans to study abroad, and it suddenly became really stressful in my sophomore year to plan studying abroad. Start talking to your counselor, professors, and upperclassman friends to find out what opportunities are available to you, and start thinking about your future.
While talking to some other students, other first years mistakes that came up were not socializing enough with students on the same floor, not taking music classes at Eastman, and not joining enough clubs or organizations on campus. Hopefully, this helped you if you’re a first year anxious about the first week of classes. But honestly, I’m a junior and many of these mistakes still apply to my life, so don’t feel bad if you make these mistakes. As Meliora, our mission statement says, become “ever better” as you learn from your mistakes and grow!