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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

A senior’s college life tips for freshmen

The Wofford class of 2024 signature banner. Every year, first years will participate in signing their class’s banner.

If I had to make an educated guess, most of the advice you received prior to arriving at school focused on academic tips: how to study well, how to stop procrastinating, how to find your major, etcetera.

As most people who have been to college know, much of the time when you’re not in class or doing homework, you’re adventuring in all the other aspects of young adult life, such as social time, hobbies and visiting new places.

After three years of experiencing the highs and lows of college life, tinted by COVID-19 and other major world events, I’m beginning senior year feeling like the best iteration of myself so far. However, it’s taken a lot of living and learning to get here, and I’d like to share some tips I wish I’d heard back when I began in 2019.

1. Let go of your high school persona. 

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When I first came to Wofford, I had a clear image of myself in my head: semi-unpopular and nerdy, with a dash of “the funny friend” gene. At first, that really impacted how I went about finding my path.

Sometime along the way, I realized that, by shedding the confines I set up for myself, I was able to make friends with people I had assumed would not like me. I went out of my way to participate in events and organizations I would’ve been too scared to before.

The whole idea of cliques, as well as a popularity hierarchy, has no reason to exist in college. This is a time to explore socially, as well as dabble in hobbies and activities previously ignored. College life is much more fun when one views oneself as a clean slate, able to restart and try new things.

2. Don’t be pressured in or out of Greek Life. 

Wofford is a school with an exceptionally high participation in Greek Life, but there is still a large population at Wofford that is unaffiliated.

Oftentimes, early on, many rumors swirl about the nature of Greek Life, with some people wanting to hang out exclusively with their fraternity or sorority, and others swearing not to hang out with anyone involved.

These, of course, are exclusionary viewpoints. Since coming to Wofford, I’ve made friends involved with Greek Life who said they’ve gained lifelong friendships through it. I, myself, chose not to join it, and instead made friends via my classes and jobs.

The best way to get a feel for whether or not it is right for you is to ask people for more information about it. Learn all the pros and cons, and don’t listen to the folks who paint a strictly black-and-white picture of the Greek vs non-Greek lifestyles.

Also, be aware of the various service fraternities on campus, such as Alpha Phi Omega, and academic frats, such as Mu Beta Psi, Pi Sigma Alpha and Alpha Psi Omega, to name a few. Though these offer the “brotherhood” of traditional fraternities, they specifically focus on service projects or academic honors.

3. Try to form a friendly connection with professors

It’s always cool to impress your professors by performing well in their classes, but I think sometimes students are quick to assume their professor “hates” them because they struggle in their class. I’ve found from personal experience that you can still get along well with a professor whose class you cannot seem to grasp very well.

Your professors are human, and you’ll probably find a few during your college career who would love to chat about their subject, maybe over a drink. If you take a genuine interest in their class, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation; I’d argue it would be especially helpful if you’re struggling in their class.

I believe that classes are much more fun and easier when you feel happy around your professor and comfortable talking to them. These are all people who were stoked enough about their subject to go through graduate school studying it.

One final thing I’d like to note is: your professor does not think you’re stupid if you get a B. Getting a B signals satisfactory work, and they’d still love to chat about the subject with you. 

4. Respond to setbacks with “where do I go from here?” 

Now to get into the mental health subject matter. I’ve admitted it before and I’ll admit it again: I got a D in my Chemistry 123 class my very first semester of college, and I never retook it.

I had some folks act almost offended that I could possibly still be alive after receiving that grade, but I think I did the best thing I could for my mental health. First, I said, “clearly, I am not meant to study any more chemistry.” Second, I said, “I’ll study harder in my next few classes, and I’ll place most of my concern on my major classes.”

Since then, I’ve been able to pull out solid grades in my majors, English and Art History, which are about as far away from Chemistry as possible on the subject spectrum. I’m able to look back on the other side and realize that I ended up with a GPA that I’m very proud of anyway, and I didn’t need to freak out as much as people said I should.

I know I said I wouldn’t focus on academic advice here, but I’m gearing this more towards mental health. As someone with recently diagnosed ADHD, I realized I’ve had numerous setbacks in school and social situations just because I can be perceived as “different,” and I’ve found that I’ve best stayed afloat by not getting bogged down with my failures, but rather looking towards what I can do now and next.

5. Get out and about 

Finally, one of the biggest things I can recommend for keeping your head clear is allowing yourself time out of your room. If you find your brain clouded by work and school stresses, take a moment, even if it feels indulgent and a little wrong, to grab some food, visit a store or even take a free day or weekend to visit a nearby city.

It’s easy to look at the tasks ahead of you and want to power through until you’re done, but it’s also easy to want to move onto the next task once one is completed, and then the next. Before you know it, you’re doing next month’s homework. Eventually, you have no choice except to burn out or to allow yourself some self-care.

Find some things that get your mind off stressors and give yourself permission to experience them. My personal go-to, if I don’t feel like spending money, is taking a walk around campus when the weather is nice. Every so often, I run into someone I know and get to have a conversation. Pinpoint your “restorative” activities, and don’t feel bad about doing them.

Above all, remember this: college is a challenge, not just for you but for everyone. You may feel like the only one intimidated by all the harder schoolwork, freedom, sexuality, alcohol, parties, dorm life and general uncertainty about the future, some of which the faculty does not want to chat with you about, I’m sure, but almost everyone around you is feeling the same anxiety.

There is no “right” way to attend college. Everyone selects a different path, and for many of those people, their path changes numerous times. As long as you are satisfied with yourself and are comfortable where you are, you’re setting yourself up for a great four years.

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