I’m actually trying to read less. I just- I started to feel like reading about life was taking time away from actually living life. So I’m trying to, like, accept invitations to things, say “hi” to the world a little more.
My name is Lizzie Bennet, and here’s what I’ve learned!
For one of my last GT1000 assignments, we each had to write a piece on advice we would share, after completing our first fall semester, with future Tech freshman. My “piece” became a lengthy list of things that I have learned over the past six months, things that have shaped who I am, what I know, and how I live. They have played into every aspect of my life as well as resulting from things that I have gone through.
Vague, generalizing rambling words aside, here are thirty tips for your first semester of college. (They aren’t extremely well rounded; I went with what I directly and quickly thought of. There are few studying tips, nothing about fraternity parties, a little about eating cookies and staying up late. Just a forewarning, a disclaimer. But I hope that they’re helpful too.)
Ok but really, without further ado-
They tell you not to take too many hours your first few semesters. Listen to them. The last thing you want is to be so swamped all the time that you never have time to explore and take advantage of all of the new programs and opportunities available to you.
Take as many classes that interest you as possible, while also making sure that they satisfy your major requirements. If a class means something to you, you will do so much better in it than if you don’t care at all. (LOL Biology.)
If you don’t like a class, or if you don’t like your major or major requirements, YOU CAN CHANGE IT. I have had several friends be miserable in their current major classes, switch majors, and be so much happier. (This particular friend also switched to MY major, so I was pretty happy too.)
Another thing I’ve found is that within a class, especially in LMC courses, you will have freedom to learn and research what you want to. In my Intro (LMC 2000) and Media Studies (LMC 2400) classes, I was able to write essays and give presentations on the similar narrative styles in Persepolis and Atonement, the remediations of Pride and Prejudice (like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!), symbolism in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and even how Tumblr functions as a medium (by making a Tumblr!).
Use Course Off to plan your schedule—especially if you are visual, organized, and appreciate pretty color-coding. (But double check everything in Buzzport when you’re finished.)
Make several versions of your schedule in case some of your classes are full by the time you try to register for them. (Registration sucks.)
Invest in a planner and pens and sticky notes and any other organizational supplies you may need. They are worth it and make juggling assignments, meetings, classes, and life so much easier.
Don’t use binders for your class like you probably did in high school; they’re huge and bulky and you won’t want to carry them everywhere. (I did this during the summer semester and it was horrible.) It is also unlikely that professors will give you many handouts. You really just need a notebook for notes, and some really good pens (see number 6).
Take all of the free things at FASET that you can, including Insomnia cookies, because the free stuff doesn’t last forever. You may even learn something important or valuable while pursuing a mediocre (BUT FREE) t-shirt, too. I, for example, know the difference between Dining Dollars and Buzz Funds by heart (number 12), and could give a killer presentation on GTL if needed.
Take things that aren’t necessarily free too. Like, don’t STEAL, but if the dining hall has bananas (which it does) then load the heck up on bananas.
In other words, use your unlimited meal swipes wisely. It’s super easy to sneak food out. You won’t want to walk to the dining hall every day, three times a day. BUT IF ANYONE ASKS, IT WASN’T ME WHO TOLD YOU.
Take care of your technology, especially your phone and computer. Both are completely necessary. Keep them safe, keep them clean. Treat them like your children.
Speaking of computers, professors know when you are using your laptop to take notes versus when you are shopping, Facebooking, etc. I DON’T KNOW HOW, BUT THEY KNOW.
Don’t procrastinate. (Unfortunately preaching to the choir here.)
You may think that you don’t like coffee, but a few late nights and long assignments can legitimately change that. Beware.
If you do develop a coffee addiction, or eat at the Student Center a lot, make sure that you ask to use Dining Dollars instead of Buzz Funds. Buzz Funds can be used more places, and you get fewer of them; you have to use Dining Dollars by the end of the spring. Don’t let them catch up OR run out on you.
Venture outside of Tech’s campus whenever possible. Don’t let the edge of Tech Square or West or North Ave. stop you; you won’t fall over the edge and die if you go or ride or walk other places. Atlanta is awesome, and transportation is cheap. Explore, even if you’re just looking for somewhere to study or read.
Do as many before-school-starts programs as you can. Wreck Camp, math camp, the Late Short Summer semester… These are great ways to not only learn more about the best school ever, but to get used to living away from home, get a feel for the campus, and make a bunch of new friends too.
If you go through Panhellenic Recruitment, they’ll tell you to “be yourself” so many times that you’ll want to scream. But…be yourself. Be genuine, be real—no matter what you think that a sorority is looking for. The right one will want you for you.
Mini rant AND little known fact: if you are unhappy with rush and your remaining choices, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH DROPPING OUT OF RUSH. Your Pi Chi’s and advisors may be the best ever (mine literally are, I’m still friends with them), but they have been instructed to get you through the ENTIRE process, until you get a bid. IF YOU DON’T WANT A BID FROM YOUR REMAINING CHOICES THOUGH, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO LEAVE. No one is stopping you.
Once you get a bid, you CAN accept or reject it. However, even GETTING a bid means that you cannot rush again for a full year. Meaning that, if your rush experience was hell, like mine was, you have to go through it all over again the next year if you still want to go Greek. Which SUCKS.
Just know that, if you do rush, if you don’t rush, whatever. It doesn’t matter. You can still be your own person and make your own judgements and choices. You will be perfectly fine if you don’t go Greek. I didn’t, and I’m doing well. I have so much freedom and have met so many different kinds of people, it’s wonderful.
With this freedom, be wary. Don’t go out every night. Do your work, sleep well, eat as healthy as you can. Take care of yourself. Watch a Disney movie, listen to old music. Rejuvenate.
The last point is especially true during finals week. DON’T STAY UP UNTIL FOUR AM STUDYING FOR YOUR FINAL, THAT’S STUPID. (Everyone does it though, I don’t understand. I studied all day and then worked out, watched High School Musical, and went to sleep at 9:30 the day before my Biology exam and I still felt wonderful AND completely prepared. It’s possible.)
Take every opportunity you can to meet new people. Talk to everyone. Make new friends. It’s so nice to eat dinner with friends, to walk around campus and see friendly faces. Don’t be shy.
Keep in touch with people. If you make a friend, don’t let them fade off. I made so many friends at the beginning of the year that I haven’t seen or heard from or reached out to in so long, and this makes me sad. I plan on reaching out soon, but I keep telling myself this and getting busy.
Along these lines, get as involved as you can. People in clubs will likely be similar to you, as you have the same interests. They will accept you and be not only your teammates, but friends.
Keep in touch with your friends from home too. Visit them, call, or text them every once in awhile. It’s comforting to know that those who know you best are still there and still care.
Call your family. I talk to mine almost every Sunday for an hour at the least. I love and miss them, and it’s so good to find out how they are and to hear their voices.
Finally, as thirty seems like a good number of tips, just know that there are so many more things that I have learned over the past semester, and so many more things that I could share. College life is completely different from anything else, and it can seem crazy and amazing and wild some or all of the time. But there will always be people around you who have gone through the things that you will go through. They were freshman too. They lived in dorms with roommates, stayed up late at the CULC, went through rush, learned to juggle internships and schoolwork and social life. There are so many different things to do, and there is no “right way to do them.” However, it is always helpful to get and share advice, to learn the trips, tips, and twists that others have learned and gone through. It is helpful, and it is comforting. It means that we aren’t alone, and it means that we will pass on the things we learn to the future generations, in the hopes that they too have the best college experience that they possibly can. And the best college experience, while not confined to mere semesters, admittedly does begin as a little ramblin RAT.