Friday, August 25, 2006

Yet Another Post

Okay, the reason I'm posting again, is that my previous one was somewhat of a touching, personal one; one that had to be written in the spirit of the moment. You know?

No, you don't. Whatever. I probably didn't mean any of it, anyway.

Anyhoo, I Googled "advice for freshmen," and it came up with a message board chock-full of advice. I want to list the points of advice, with a bit of my own thoughts. Please pay attention if you're pre-college or even in your first few semesters. This is important to me, so you must pay attention.

(not in any particular order)
1. Take electives outside your major. I think this is important, because it will broaden you a bit. No matter how "open-minded" you think you are, actively looking at new interests will definitely challenge that.

2. Join clubs. I wish I did this at my junior college. I didn't really feel connected to my school, and maybe that's why my experience was a little sour.

3. DON'T BE A DRUNK!!! I don't drink. Period. I get along fine. There's a lot of people out there who don't drink or who drink in moderation. You don't have to get smashed every weekend to be popular. You shouldn't get smashed at all. It only takes that one time to absolutely destroy your life. Be responsible.

4. Study abroad. Practically everyone said this. Mormons have an opportunity to leave the country for a time on their missions. If they "go state-side" (serve in America), I think they should take a semester abroad. It's the cheapest opportunity you have to leave the country, see some (foreign) sights, get some perspective, and earn some college credits all at the same time. Live outside your silly box. Everyone who didn't go abroad seemed to regret it.

5. Take every class you want to. This is important, as well. Your major has very little, for the most part, to do with your career. Don't believe all that "career-oriented" learning stuff. My dad majored in Sociology, and is now a sales engineer for a company that builds water wells. Don't be afraid to take Physics if your major is Art History.

6. Find diversity. This is for the same reasons as studying abroad. I don't think people really understand what they think they hold dear until they've met someone with different experiences, culture, or beliefs who shares a common idea.

7. Be yourself. You probably weren't yourself in high school. I still know college students who simply want to conform, refuse to be different. You're liars. I'm sorry, but you're telling us you're something other than what you really are. You don't need to feel pressured into being someone besides yourself. If it means you'll have less friends, then good for you! A loner who's himself is better than a popular poser.

8. Network. Learn to make connections.

9. Declare a minor. I totally believe this. The more distant from your major, the better, especially if your preprofessional (med-school and the like). This will give you guidance for your electives and interests.

10. Don't be afraid of hard classes. Challenge yourself! Don't be a wuss! Don't be afraid to take "the hard professor." That's dumb. It'll give you a greater sense of accomplishment, trust me. I took some classes that were so easy I felt they were a waste of time even though they boosted my GPA. (No one looks all that much at GPA anyway.)

11. Know your professors! This, also, is important. Take advantage of office hours. You don't need to be the fan club. Come with questions regarding the material, your standing in the class, your career decisions, or just go to talk. Professors detest lecturing to a bunch of clearly-bored people; they'd much rather teach you one-on-one, or at least get some feedback. If you don't understand, tell them!

12. Know your professors some more! Professors have connections. They are excellent entries to any kind of network. They sign your letters of recommendation for post-graduate schools, they hire research assistants, they know internship opportunities, and, well, grades are veeerrrrrry flexible in college. If you meet with your professors, they attach a face to your name, and participation points can go a long way in the grading system.

13. If you get a job, work on campus. These jobs can lead to internships. They also tend to give you lots of time to study on the job. What's better than getting paid to do homework?

14. Shun social cliques. Be a floater. You don't need to join a fraternity, or be part of the "cool" crowd. Generally, their influence crashes and burns in college anyway. Be diverse, and you'll get better friends. Just because you were "a stoner punk" in high school doesn't mean you have to be one in college. Loners of the world, that can end right after graduation! There is hope!

15. Don't waste time. I've made it clear how valuable time is. Don't waste time playing those addictive games like WoW! or being hung-over. Make the most of your short four years.

16. Study well. Do the work. GO TO CLASS! Don't ever miss class, unless you absolutely have to! Everything on tests tends to be covered in class. I've been to classes where the textbook was unneeded (but, I wish I had read it, because maybe then I'd have learned more). Also, it's generally accepted that the dorm room is like Dilbert's "anti-productivity pod." Nothing useful was ever accomplished in the dorm or apartment. If you want to study, find a secret place to do it and don't tell your friends where you're going.

17. Go to functions. Go to plays, movie-nights, sporting events, seminars, etc. Use them as dates. You've paid for a lot of them, and there might be free food. Besides, you'll be able to put that down as something you did, rather than as something you missed.

18. Take care of your body. Ever hear of the "Freshman 15?" It's true, and it could be a lot more than fifteen pounds. Exercise regularly, don't just eat the fatty food in the cafeteria, shower daily, get good sleep (try, at least), and watch the snacks. You'll study better. Along those lines, it's harder to retain information and take tests when you're on caffeine. Just saying. . .

19. Look for good teachers. Don't look for easy teachers, but good ones. Ask older students, or check a professor-rating site. I've had some really crappy professors, some who were pretty simple. I wish I had asked.

20. Finally, love school, but don't make it your life. DO VOLUNTEER WORK! That's a great way to unwind, find opportunities, and have fun. Not everything you do has to revolve around school.

That's the advice of many people. I think I've covered the best bits. The site is here, if you want to read the full, unmediated version. Thanks for reading!

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