OWL Talks

Lessons Learned: Making the Most of Your First-Year Experience

Posted by Shauna Legsdin '19 on Apr 17, 2018 2:03:00 PM

Shauna Legsdin intern

As we wrapped up the fall semester and prepared to welcome the class of 2022, it was a good time to reflect on the transition into college. Leaving home and coming to college is a scary yet exciting experience. I was anxious and uncomfortable, a mixed result from being in transit to a new place and having the car crammed full to the point where there wasn’t much room left for me. A few days into the semester I began to settle in, and the hype ended. I am now in my junior year and find myself busy almost all of the time. I am still trying to find ways to manage it all, but success is possible and the struggle is worth it. I learned a lot, and I would not be where I am today if I didn’t start making an impact on the university and myself during my first year. Here are some of the lessons I have learned.

Roommates: Unpacking and meeting your roommate(s) for the first time is nerve racking, knowing you have to share a space with a stranger for months. Not everyone gets along, but it is important to try to make things work. Roommates provide a life lesson. They teach you how to be okay with being uncomfortable and how to adapt to whatever happens. You aren’t going to like everyone, but compromise and communication will be very useful when dealing with every facet of your life. As an Honors student, you have the choice to live with other Honors students. If you like living with people who have the same motivation and attitude about school, the Honors Living and Learning Community offers a great opportunity to live with like-minded students in University Hall, one of the more sought-after dorms. Plus, everyone in your hall, including the RA, will be in Honors as well, creating a community outside of the Honors Center.

Involvement: During your first year, you can spend your free time hanging out with friends, getting involved with clubs, playing sports, running for student government positions, volunteering, attending campus lectures, films, and social events, and so much more. I encourage you to get involved but to choose pursuits you will actually want to invest time into. The Honors Program offers many ways to get involved. You can become a member of the Student Honors Advisory Council (SHAC), attend Honors Program hosted events, volunteer to serve as a peer mentor, and even apply to become the Honors Program Student Leader Intern like me! It doesn’t matter how much free time you have in your schedule, or if you are more shy than outgoing; there is always a way to get involved in the Honors Program and beyond.

Time Management: It may seem like you have a lot of time in your first year, but as you gain responsibilities, get involved, maybe start a job, and move up in your classes, you will notice you have less free time. In college, it is very easy to fall behind, and it is even harder to catch up. Be proactive and make a checklist or a schedule to help you remember what is due and when. You can’t rely on your memory, nor can you rely on your teachers and peers to remind you. Your syllabus will become your best friend. Learning time management is one of the most important skills you can leave college with, since you will utilize it in every job or commitment. The Honors Center is a great place to relax, hang out, or focus and get work done, with plenty of space, snacks, and free printing to keep you comfortable and motivated. The center is the perfect place to spend those odd amounts of time between classes. Students from every year gather there and are very welcoming and helpful.

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Overall, there is a lot more to learn and gain from college, and not everyone’s college path will entail the same challenges. Either way, it is important to learn from yourself and the experiences of others. I encourage you all to be aware, cautious, daring, and to enjoy the ride!

Shauna asked members of the Class of 2021 for words of advice to share with the Class of 2022, and here’s what they said:

  • Stay on top of your work
  • Get involved
  • Don’t procrastinate
  • Don’t freak out; it gets better
  • Use your syllabus
  • It takes time to get used to the college lifestyle
  • Take time for yourself
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Befriend upperclassmen
  • You will get out of college what you put into it
  • Be nice

Reprinted from the Squirrel Squire, newsletter of the Honors Program

More tips on how to get the most out of your college experience:

Civic Engagement and Giving Back to Your Community

How to Make the Most Out of your Internship Experience

Developing Presentation Skills at the Massachusetts Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference

Get Outside the Classroom: Adventures in Experiential Education

Topics: Getting the most out of your college experience

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