Avoiding freshman year pitfalls

Editorial published in the print edition of Elon University’s student-run newspaper, The Pendulum, on August 22, 2014.

Photo by Erin Valentine

Photo by Erin Valentine

Congratulations, you’ve graduated from high school. Those awkward years of bad haircuts and growing pains are behind you. Now, an unknown, scary, inspiring future lies ahead. Throw back your shoulders, keep your head high and prepare yourself for the next four years at Elon University by learning that some college myths are not necessarily true. 

The freshman 15

Your newfound freedom is the definition of liberating. Just remember that your meal plan can either consist of endless pizza or balanced, healthy meals. Treat yourself, but also make sure you’re doing what makes your body work at its best. While you can spend all your Food Dollars on ice cream and chips, try to aim more towards grub that will keep your brain going on those particularly long days. Maybe add a Freshii salad into the mix.

 Partying 24/7

Freshman year is a lot about socializing with people. This can mean going to a party or chatting it up in your dorm room with your hallmates. Do whatever your comfort level is, and get involved with in what interests you. Friends will fall into your life. Remember to try something new as well. College is all about testing out new ideas and experiences.

Soulmates with your roommate

You’ve either connected over Facebook, or you have a faint idea of his or her name. Your roommate may become a close friend, a strange acquaintance or your nemesis. Nonetheless, you’re going to be living with this person for a year. It is best to set all the ground rules now and be flexible. Go into the year with the mindset that you’ll both have good and bad days and to be respectful. But, if you find after a few weeks that your roommate makes you downright miserable, talk to your RA and get into a healthier environment.

Impossible classes

This isn’t high school, so the classes won’t be the same. But, you’ll quickly fall into step and have your fellow classmates to help if you start to fall behind. Pay attention. Take notes. At least attempt to do the reading and make sure you actually go to class. Also, your professor may just turn out to be the coolest person you’ve ever met. You’re at Elon primarily to learn — try not to forget that.

Must be in Greek Life

Not all social events surround Greek life, and you won’t be socially stranded if you don’t ever want to go to fraternity parties. Try to get to know  different people from lots of different organizations, clubs, etc. If you find that a certain Greek organization tickles your fancy, go for it. If it’s not your thing, just keep doing you. Everyone will appreciate that you are just happy being yourself. Also, don’t assume the stereotype of Greek life that you’ve seen on television or in movies is reality. Get to know what it entails before you judge.

Inevitable all-nighters

One of the most important life skills you’ll learn at Elon is time management. Unfortunately, this will probably mean a lot of trial and error. You will leave a ten-page paper until the night before it’s due, and you will curse yourself for thinking that inspiration would hit you in your hour of need. Plan ahead. Read the syllabus, and write down when important tests, papers and projects are due. Ten minutes of planning now will save you sleepless nights and stress later in the year.

Choosing a major decides your fate

Your first year at Elon will be mostly general education classes that you’re required to take. Elon 101 will situate you into the atmosphere and help smooth over some bumps as you transition. Class selection for sophomore year will quickly loom over your head, and the pressure to choose a major as soon as possible will feel like the hardest decision to make. Just know that it’s OK to change your mind. You may start off as a business major and then find your calling as a musical theatre major. Try anything that interests you in your first few semesters. Once you find a subject you really enjoy, stick with it.

GPA is everything

You no longer have to dread the end-of-term report card. While you still get grades at Elon, they do not necessary affect your future. Try your best to learn as much as you can, but remember: what’s more important is what you learned from a class than what your final grade was. It’s OK to get a C every once in a while as long as you tried your hardest, asked for help when needed, and learned something.

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