The only thing scarier than your first day as a freshman at the University of Maine will be your last day as a senior(or a super senior, no one’s judging). Your four years here will be some of the most transformative, challenging and fulfilling years of your life, and you will leave a different person that you first came. So for those wondering what nuggets of wisdom could be imparted on incoming freshman by the senior class, here is an essential 10 things I wish I knew as a freshman.
First things first: Get involved in clubs. There’s a club for every aspect of college life, so find one that is up your alley and run with it. Whether you are interested in feminism, environmental protection, mental health advocacy or even board games, you will find the right club for you, and with it you will meet people with the same interest. Clubs are a great way to make friends, and to learn more about something you are passionate about, not to mention a great resume booster if you advance to an executive position (so start now).
Ask for help when you need it. There are countless resources at your disposal here, you just have to find them. If you are struggling with a class or maybe even your mental health, reach out and reap the rewards.
Know your limits. There is nothing wrong with going out and having a great time and making memories, but always remember that you have to get home safely too. And dress for the weather, please, this is Maine; it’s all fun and games until your ears freeze off.
Say hello to the people you know on campus. This is how connections are cultivated. If you recognize a professor or fellow classmate somewhere, smile and acknowledge them. It is up to you to make your friends here and if you go the extra mile and address them by their name you could become more than just Facebook friends.
Accept change. Things big and small are going to happen over the course of your time here, and you will change as a person. Go with the flow and accept the things that are out of your control.
Be authentic. Arielle Frank, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, swears by this, saying, “you’ll find people that you want to hang out with more if you’re actually you. If I have to be fake around someone, that’s not someone I want to hang out with.”
Take care of yourself. Self-care is the most important and daily reminder to be your own best friend. Aim for three square meals a day, stay hydrated and take mental breaks when needed. “I self-care by eating regularly, even if I’m not always hungry, and taking a shower when I feel overwhelmed,” fourth-year journalism and political science student Lindsey Moran notes. “And you need a good night’s sleep too.”
Major in something you care about. Moran says, “I think you should major in something that you like studying. The purpose of getting an education is to better yourself and to become a better functioning member of society, not necessarily to get a job out of college making money. Major in something that you enjoy discussing with other people, and reading about.” If you start as a mechanical engineering student but your passion lies in solving environmental issues, you can switch to wildlife ecology. Our education system allows you to make such changes, so utilize that.
And finally, and perhaps most controversially, these are probably not going to be the best four years of your life. While college is undoubtedly a wild, raunchy and life-changing time in your life, it is also stressful, arduous and demanding. Frank says, “If you come into freshman year assuming these will be the best four years of your life and they don’t turn out that way, that’s a terrible outlook on the rest of your life.” Don’t assume you will “peak” in college, because you have the rest of your life to live afterwards.
But all that being said, the number one thing to remember is to enjoy yourself. Take risks, make mistakes (and learn from them) and fall in love with the world and yourself. College is what you make of it.