Simonson Says: What I wish I'd known as a freshman

Freshmen, you’re probably sick of hearing it, but this is an important time of your life, and you’ll probably wish more than once that you could . . . well, not do it over (I’m grateful for every step of the experience, but would jump into a gator-infested swamp before doing it over), but change the way you did some of it. I’m not going to tell you I wish I’d partied less (that would’ve been impressive, seeing as I don’t even get what partying means) or put dating/marriage on the back-burner or never missed a class or whatever your parents’ crowd has been telling you, but there are some things I wish someone had told me or that I’d taken more seriously.

1. Consider leaving your comfort zone. It never occurred to me to study anything but what I already knew and loved: English and creative writing. I’ll never say I regret my field of study, because I do love it. I live and breathe the written word. Don’t let anyone tell you not to study and pursue what you love. That being said . . . if I’d ever even considered majoring in something other than my default, what if I’d discovered something else I loved? What if I’d learned something important about myself, unearthed a talent I wouldn’t have believed I had? I’m not suggesting you don’t know your own strengths and interests; I’m suggesting you should consider all of them before committing to a field. Maybe one of those interests could translate into something you didn’t even know was a major.

If your heart is set on one area, I’m not telling you not to study it. But know all your options. If I were starting school now, I might well choose a field that was interesting to me but had better employment prospects, or I would research all the minors so I knew what I really wanted to study before I changed it four times. Just research everything education can offer you before making up your mind. You’re going to be stuck with your major for a long time, likely the rest of your life, so you need to know what they’re all about before you just decide to stick with your safety net or “what I just always knew I’d do.”

2. Socialize. This is probably what everyone’s been telling you to do less of in college, and obviously it shouldn’t be all you think about, but you’ll also regret it if you make schoolwork your whole life for four-plus years. Sometimes when I realize I’ve been a student almost seven years, I wonder if I have enough good memories and friends to show for it. Some teachers and parents might disagree with me here, but it’s my personal advice: Don’t turn down offers to hang out with or meet new people. Don’t tell friends you should stay in and study every time they want to go out to dinner or a party. Respond when a non-creepy classmate tries to start a conversation. Stay out late on a school night once in a while. Splurge and take a road trip with friends one summer. Attend a school dance and actually dance. Date around a little before getting married. Explore every opportunity to make new friends. If you don’t, you’ll wish you had when college is done and you hear friends and movies reminisce about what a blast it was.

3. Take advantage of student perks. In my whole time here, I’ve only used the free gym a couple times. I haven’t yet gotten around to visiting the Stress Management Lab. I desperately need more of the free counseling than I’ve taken time to get. I know I’ll regret it when I’m gone. There are so many resources here for making student life easier. I don’t know what I’d have done without the student bus pass or health center. There are jobs for you here, free tutoring for all the major subjects, a dental clinic, even free IPTV on the Weber website. Student fees cover most of it, so why not get the most out of everything Weber offers?

One night of writing a paper might last an eternity, but your college career as a whole will whoosh by. Do everything you can to get the most out of it.