Home > Advice, college, Personal > I Am Not A Lemon – Part One: Myths and Truths of Freshman Year

I Am Not A Lemon – Part One: Myths and Truths of Freshman Year

Editors Note: The following is the first in a five part series about what to do, what not to do, and how to make the most of your college experience. There are a lot of lists out there telling students how to succeed, but not too many of these lists have been written by recent graduates still living in the college mindset. Please read this series not as a “do as I say bible”, but rather one humble ex students suggestions.

Part One: Myths and Truths of Freshman Year

There is nothing I can say that will make you the perfect student.

For Instance:

You should not drink – Yea right, that’s realistic. The appropriate thing should be that if you do decide to drink, and unfortunately many prioritize drinking a bit too much, remember that your reputation can be built on how you party. Building relationships at college is key, and partying is a great avenue to meet new people, but taking a body shot off your roommate’s girlfriend’s breasts, might not be the best idea.
Join as many clubs as possible – Sounds like a good idea. Most college how-to manuals talk about clubs and the networking opportunities they provide. But what they don’t tell you is that by packing your schedule so tight with officer meetings and fundraisers, you lose the ability to be spontaneous—one of the best things about college. I can’t tell you how many times I would walk into my house only to find myself quickly driving to an open soccer field where a pickup game had just materialized.
Go to EVERY class – I love it when I see this advice. It’s usually from a Ph. D. who thinks their subject is the only one that matters. College, especially the first year, is about understanding balance and tradeoffs. I once had a professor tell me that if we missed a class we would lose our chance at getting an A. Later that semester I had to cover the Presidential election for the school paper and as the news editor, missing deadline was not an option. My teacher told me it was my decision but he would not excuse the absence. I got a B in the class. Was it worth it? Sure, not only did I get free pizza, but also the article I wrote now sits in my portfolio and landed me my first Internship.

Instead, it’s important to remember that as a Freshman you have room to screw up. Most of these lists tell us that what we do as a Freshman will dictate the next four or five years, and even though there is a thread of truth there, do not get caught up thinking that your life is over from day one.

Myths and Truths about Freshman year:

Freshman Orientation is a waste of time – ½ Myth ½ Truth – Freshman orientation can seem like a waste of time if a majority of the class is dedicated to talking about how you are feeling, and what it’s like to live on your own. As a Fresman in today’s world, you’ve already proven yourself capable of making important decisions. You’ve gained entrance into a four-year university, balanced several activities and possibly even held a job. What is important in orientation is when the class takes time to talk about the resources available to you on campus. Successful Seniors are those who have learned how the campus works and where to go when they need help. It might not be the “cool” thing to do, but take a tour of the campus if given the chance. Everyone struggles; it’s just much easier to struggle when you have help.
If I don’t make friends right away there is no hope for me – Myth – Three of my best friends I met at the end of my Freshman year. I didn’t even live with them before my Junior year. College is about exploration, and just how you explore your passions, you explore your friends. Be open, spontaneous and willing to push your comfort zone. Finding friends is hard when you really want to, but easy when you are open.
GE Classes are stupid – ¾ Myth ¼ Truth – GE classes are the pain in every Freshmans side. You’ve worked hard to study what interests you, but getting into your major’s classes can by hard. Load up on the GE’s your Freshman year and get them over with. Since you are taking classes with every major, take the time to meet students you otherwise would not have had interaction with inside your major. It’s a great way to meet people, learn the basic fundamentals of college and hone your skills for your major requirements. The truth is that many GE professors think they are the most important class you will ever take. Trust me, the majority is not. Learn to work with the professor and not against them. You never know when they will show up again.
I can’t get any classes I want and will never get out of here – Myth – I remember my Freshman year getting only one class I really wanted. Since I didn’t have priority registration, a disability, or other excuse to register early, I was forced to take classes that didn’t interest me as much. I took an Anthropology class that ended up making me pursue a minor in Anthropology two years later. As I mentioned above, college is about tradeoffs and the ability to work within the system. Take a high-level overview of your options and be open to chance.

Part Two will be on how to understand the system and make college work for you.

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