As I begin my senior year of college, I can’t help but feel one overwhelming emotion: terror. Not only at the “real world” looming over my shoulder- bills and careers and expensive Sephora wrinkle-prevention- but at how quickly the time has passed me by. I feel like I blinked in my English 101 class and opened my eyes to thesis research. I am so, so sad to think that I will be leaving Washington College this May, walking away from friends who have changed me, professors who have enriched me, and an institution that has shaped so many facets of my being. I look at the freshmen moving in and think, “What I wouldn’t do to be you.” I would love to have four years ahead of me to figure out who I am, to fall in passionate love with ideas and academia, and to participate in the community of this campus all over again. Then, I remember what my bank account looked like freshmen year and I don’t really feel too envious anymore. Below are some of my top tips for the first few months of school as a freshmen to help you adjust and figure out exactly what’s going on at this funky little campus.
Getting Out There
The first semester of my freshmen year was rough. Real, real rough. I didn’t know many people, I barely did anything outside of going to class, and I felt like I just couldn’t get a handle on the whole “adjustment” thing. After winter break, everything changed. During the spring semester, I went out for Drama Draft and got cast in a play, I went through sorority recruitment and joined AOII, I went to WACappella rehearsals and delved deeper into the music minor I decided to add to my resume. I was busy and I loved it! I met so many people and started building communities of others who loved the same things as me. I felt like I had a support system. I came out of my shell, made so many friends, and dyed my hair orange (we don’t talk about the last part though).
In the coming weeks, there will be so many opportunities to get involved on campus. There will be an entire fair dedicated to club sign ups. If you love sports, join a club or intramural team, if you love theatre, audition for Drama Draft, if you love animals, join Animal Impact Club, and, hey, if you love to write, come work for “The Leaf!” There is no better way to flourish here than to involve yourself in as much as you comfortably can. You never know what skill you’ll learn, passion you’ll awaken, or friend you’ll meet.
Let’s not forget the real reason we’re all here in Chestertown, frantically running from Gibson to Cromwell in nine minutes (with a stop at the library to print a research paper worked in). Academics are very important to your time here at WAC and I cannot stress enough how seriously you should take them. Freshman year classes are usually pretty basic, focused on 101 courses and distribution requirement, but it can still be difficult to make the transition from high school to college classes. You want to try your hardest in every course because Psych 111 is only for a semester, but your GPA is forever.
- Make sure you’re always prepared for class. Do the readings! I know sometimes they seem optional, but if you actually do the reading, it will be difficult for you to fail. There’s a reason your prof. assigned them!
- Invest in a planner, because between meetings, classes, deadlines, and extracurriculars, you’re sure to miss something if you don’t keep a log.
- Find a note taking method that works for you! Some people like to type notes, other (like me!) need to write in order to retain information. Play around with different note taking methods and styles. If your professor freely lectures, take stream-of-conscious notes during class and organize them that night. If you your professor relies heavily on powerpoint, try printing out the slides and gluing them onto notebook pages where you can take detailed notes on them during class.
- Keep your papers and notes organized and don’t forget to look over what you’ve learned often, it will help the information stick so much better.
- Start that paper as soon as you are assigned it. Once you’ve had one or two of those classic college all-nighters, you won’t want to have any more.
Campus Life and Chestertown
Remember that WAC is your home now, and Chestertown too! One of my favorite parts of being a freshman was exploring campus and the community, and finding parts of it that I found relaxing, beautiful, and exciting. Explore the buildings on campus. I don’t have any classes in Cromwell, but I think it’s gorgeous and a great study space, so I do homework there sometimes. The Lit House is an amazing campus gem, but a lot of people I’ve spoken too have never stepped inside. There are little nooks all over the campus that offer amazing views or peaceful vibes. Get out there and look for them!
Sometimes it may seem easy to get a little too attached to campus, however. Don’t forget that there are many, many things to do in Chestertown as well. Walk to the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, get lunch and catch up on some reading at Figg’s Ordinary, get a great view of the Chester River at Wilmer Park, and explore the countless shops dotting the town. We have everything from arts supplies stores to clothing boutiques to an entire store dedicated to plants. This is now your community- love and support it!
These are just some gentle suggestions to help make your time at Washington College the best it can be. The most important tip I have is to take it easy on yourself and remember that the next four years are going to be some of the best of your life. Let yourself have fun and find joy in the little things. I know I have, and that will make leaving this campus so much harder.
Blog and Social Media Editor
Photo Credit: Shannon Moran