When I came to campus, I was excited, nervous and ambitious. I tried out many new things, experienced my own set of successes and failures and came to know a few individuals who later became my close friends. There are so many tips and guides for freshmen to remember and think about as they embark on their college journey, ranging from what to pack to how to “hack” your dining hall. What I would like to offer is my own experience and how I made it through orientation and, subsequently, the first 10 days of college.
When I arrived at Tufts, I was determined to make it the best experience and I had a plan coming in. I would join X team, make X kinds of friends and get good grades. I had done my research. I had followed the full dorm packing list and decorated it to Res Life’s standards. I knew where to buy textbooks (Amazon, Tufts Textbook Exchange, etc.), and my new hallmates were astounded how informed I was about campus already. Truth is, I had scoured the Tufts website from Student Services to the Department of Political Science and looked at the Bulletin from the year before. I had a list of seven classes that I was interested in taking (this I recommend because you might get waitlisted for a class). I went to every GIM for every club I found to be interesting and was already signed up for tryouts and elections.
Pro tip: In terms of waitlisted classes, just stay on the list and email the professor, asking questions such as what is the likelihood of getting into the class. Chances are people will drop and you will get it.
I thought I was all set. But the thing is, college and life do not work that way. You can’t be all set. I am not saying that you should throw out every BuzzFeed list of college advice or the long status posts your older friends make about how amazing college is; rather, take everything with a grain of salt.
When you are trying out for teams, dance groups, a cappella groups or even running for an elected seat, remember, you are competing against the best — not everyone can get it regardless of qualifications or academic and social caliber. If you do get it, congratulations, and work hard because college requires a larger commitment than high school. If you do not, it’s okay. Sometimes, things do not work out for a reason, and you will find other clubs and activities — ones that are equally new, different and exciting. Perhaps you might find one that makes you happier than the one from which you were rejected. I hope you do.
When you are in your classes, try your best. In high school, freshman year “did not matter,” but in college it does. Go to class, take notes and go to your recitations. Go to ARC tutors, your friends, your TA, even your RA for help if you need it. You are paying so much money to this school, so make it worth it. In college, you can skip class and purportedly not reap the consequences. At least, not at first. College is about becoming responsible and working on your time management skills. Whether you use a calendar, an app or a planner, keep track of everything. Copy your assignments into whatever you use as soon as you get the syllabus. And for your own sake, either take notes with a notebook or turn off Wi-Fi on your laptop when you get to class. If you do not do as well as you would like first semester, learn from your mistakes and try harder next time. Remember, college is both hard and easy — classes are different and there are varying levels of difficulty. You cannot and should not compare yourself to classmates who are taking different classes. You are smart, and your FOCUS brother’s grades should not matter.
On the topic of pre-orientation, that group will be like a family to you in the first several weeks. It is so nice that you have a friend group already. Please remember, however, that there are people outside your TWO family. Reach out. For those who did not do a pre-o (like me), you can still break into the friend groups, so do not worry, but you will need to push yourself harder in terms of making friends. Meet and hang with people throughout your hall, in your classes or some random people in the dining hall. After the first couple months it starts to get weird to sit randomly, so cherish it.
In broader terms, regarding social life, you lucked out. Tufts is home to the nicest, most down-to-earth people I have had the chance to get acquainted with and take advantage of that. Do not stress if you have not found your best friend or social group by the end of September. It comes slowly. I, like many, was dejected for the first couple weeks of college because I did not have a good enough friend with whom I could feel comfortable. And it is okay to switch around friends — you will inadvertently become closer to some people than others. But do not forget to say “hi” to everyone you have gotten to know. They may not be your closest friends, but you never know when you will walk into a room and they will be the only people you know.
There is so much I would like to say to you all, but even my advice, as realistic as I tried to make it, should be taken with a grain of salt. All I am really trying to say is to have fun. After all, college is what you make of it.
Got questions? Email me! Don’t know how? Here is a pro tip: Enter my name next to the “To” on your Tufts email.