We’re finally having a classic Hoosier thunderstorm, not just one of those pop-up deals that only increase the humidity. It’s kinda interrupting my dog’s weekly trip to the Hanover Park, since the roads are more like Class IV rapids (bring your galoshes and an umbrella), but I thought I’d use the time to list out a couple of unsanctioned, totally unofficial, completely my own thoughts and not connected to the administration in any way important points for incoming students. I’ll cut myself off at 25 things I don’t think anyone else has the grit to tell you, from my own experiences as a Panther and with the benefit of hindsight.
- None of your professors will get mad if you don’t turn in your work, participate in discussions or show up for class; they’ll just dock your grade without a shred of remorse. You’re an adult now, so you don’t need anybody telling you what to do. In other words, it’s your education. Own it.
- Each of your profs will challenge you to be your best in some way…
- …even if that challenge is just learning how to find middle ground with someone who doesn’t understand that you couldn’t do your paper because you had front row tickets to a Jonas Brothers concert.
There are lots of great places to escape to at HC–discover them early and visit them often. Just make sure nobody catches you at 2 A.M. sneaking into the basement of Old Science Hall (far side entrance, narrow door on the right, down the stairs, creepy door at the end of the hall, keycode is L-E-M-U-R, around the corner… –just kidding).
- Be aware of how lasting first impressions can be. My freshman roommate spent the entire August Experience dressed up like Spiderman and shooting silly string at people from the bushes… I mean, come on. This is college–try not to act too childish. (BTW: he didn’t last much longer than Homecoming before he went all Alexander Supertramp and disappeared.)
- Drunk doesn’t look good on anyone.
- Some people won’t agree with you about anything: music, movies, religion, the color of the sky, etc. These are the people you should become close friends with, because they’ll challenge you and teach you the most.
- It’s fine if you want to try to make it work with your high school sweetie, but nobody wants to hear you speaking baby talk to him/her for 3 hours every night–especially not your roommate.
- Find The Acre as soon as you can, and hang out there regularly. Leave a note for future generations.
- For whatever reason, you’re going to connect a lot of music to your memories from college. So make sure you keep copies of the really important songs on your hard drive, or make a mixed CD and store it in a safe deposit box in Switzerland–whatever you have to do. Trust me on this one: these songs are going to be way more evocative than any Facebook status update some day.
- Along similar lines, keep an open mind and expand beyond Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne or whomever Ryan Seacrest is spinning these days. A million bonus points to those of you that come with one or more Dispatch, Guster, or OAR albums.
- Get a job on campus–eventually. Don’t sweat it first semester if you don’t have to, and if you do, be sure you find a balance so your academics don’t take a hit. Of course, I had to work through college so I could pay my tuition and had a job first year, but it would have been nice if I didn’t.
- Cut the cord. If you’re always thinking about home, you’re gonna get homesick (duh). Plus, you’ll miss out on everything going on around you. (Bonus tip: your family will miss you, so set up a regular contact schedule before you part ways on move-in day. If you know your mom calls every Wednesday night at 7:19, plan on taking her call or take preemptive action. I’ve got a great story to prove my point, but you’ll have to ask me in person if you want to hear what happened when my mom convinced Security I was maimed or dying.)
- Go to the August Experience events. Of course, you won’t get kicked out or demerits or anything if you don’t, but it’s a great way to make new friends & not look dumb when you’re the only one on campus who doesn’t know where Lynn Hall is or how to change to the Blue Panther meal plan (the best one, trust me).
- Your roommate has needs, same as you. If they tell you their significant other is coming down for the weekend and staying in the room, that probably means they’d appreciate it if you make yourself scarce for a couple of hours. Grab your homework and head to Duggan or your hall lobby.
- Roommates, respect your new living arrangement. If your significant other is coming down for the weekend, don’t exile your roommate for 36 hours straight. Everybody needs some alone time every once and awhile, but consider their feelings and comfort, too. And no matter what you think or how many times they say it’s cool, no roommate appreciates you making time while they’re in there–especially when you think they’re already asleep.
- Classes aren’t optional. If you want, you can figure the average cost of each hour of class. This exercise will help drive home the point that skipping is, at the very least, fiscally irresponsible…to say nothing of how dumb you’re gonna feel when the prof hands out a list of the questions that will be on your final exam.
- Athletic gear & sweats are for the gym or lounging in your dorm. Enough said.
- Get used to email–you’re going to come to rely on it more than you know. That said, know when to go and talk to someone face to face, i.e. your adviser, your significant other, your roommate, your parole officer, your fish, etc.
- Enjoy naps in the afternoon while you’re in college and still can. Unless you move to a culture with siestas, your next chance will be retirement. In the same vein, enjoy long lunches with your friends with discussions that last into the afternoon–in the real world, lunches only last an hour.
- Participate, participate, participate! It’s the best way to meet new friends (and other singles) and start building your resume. Just remember that college clubs and organizations are a lot more self-sufficient than they were in high school, so don’t overload–pick things you’re really interested in and give them your all.
- During rough patches, don’t be afraid to talk things out with friends, your roommate, profs, upperclassmen, the counselors, the nurse, your teddy bear, etc. It helps, so long as you pick someone you trust.
- Be really, really careful about what you’re putting on Facebook, as well as your privacy settings. There are countless stories about prospective employers checking candidates’ FB profiles and terrible things happening as a result of pictures from Spring Break freshman year. More immediately, your roommate, your profs, your ‘rents, and Dr. DeWine are all on Facebook, too. And never leave an unattended computer logged in to Facebook or your email, even for a minute, even with people you trust.
- Don’t be that kid in class, the one that texts or plays Minesweeper or eats potato chips out of a noisy bag during lecture or discussion. I’ve seen more than one professor totally lose their cool over things like this–not because I was the one not paying attention, but it really lowers morale for the entire class when someone’s asked to leave or called out for counting sheep, or gets an eraser tossed at them.
- Enjoy your time in college! It might not end up being the best time in your life, but it will be up there–and it will be over way too soon. Prepare for classes, put all your effort into your papers and exams, but also push yourself to grow personally and do dumb stuff every once and a while. You won’t be the person you are today when you graduate, so make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.
Kudos if you’ve read this far. I’m sure I could keep going, but I don’t like to preach and the storm’s over. If anybody else wants to add to the list, leave a comment below. We’ll see you all soon!