A senior’s advice: Avoid going home

By Mike Munaretto

Dear Incoming Freshmen of the Class of 2011,

I’ve been in your shoes. It seems like just yesterday the Munaretto family minivan was being unloaded into a Six Pack residence hall that was in desperate need of air conditioning and more cubic feet. Though U.S. News and World Report will not be approaching me for my wisdom anytime soon, after spending a four-year chapter of my life in C-U, I feel I am more than qualified to offer incoming freshmen some practical advice to get the most of the college experience.

First, the weather on campus is beautiful most of the fall and late spring, and abysmal the rest of the year. During the 60-degree and over afternoons, make sure you sit on the Quad, reading the Daily Illini or your favorite book, and just take a deep breath and enjoy the college-only activity of doing nothing at 2:30 p.m. on a Monday.

Secondly, do NOT go home until Thanksgiving. When you go back to the manicured suburbs of Chicago – or wherever you call home – for the weekend, you completely miss meeting new people, going out with friends, and California Medley soup in the dining halls for Sunday Brunch. If you really must get away from “Chambana” for the weekend, take a road trip with a few friends from your floor to a nearby college. No matter how much you become homesick, simply do not head home your first semester, as you are robbing yourself of a great part of the college experience: the weekends.

Thirdly, pick one or two registered student organizations and become really involved in them. You will get to meet a bunch of peers with your common interests and develop valuable experience and leadership skills. Please please avoid going to Quad Day and signing up for 37 clubs. You will soon grow sick of receiving 72 e-mails a day from the clubs, and will have a hard time balancing too many extracurricular activities in addition to your coursework. I chose to do band my first year and joined the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity my sophomore year. I later was elected president of the house, and learned valuable people skills and gained the ability to effectively plan events. I’m not saying that you have to be the president of your club, but definitely step up to a leadership position, as the more you put in, the more you will get out of it.

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That’s about all I’ve got. Enjoy the vastly underrated dining hall food, staying up every night until 2:30 a.m. in the morning even though you have 8 a.m. classes, and Facebook “studying breaks” that turn into two-hour distractions. College goes by quickly, much more quickly than high school, so enjoy your time here.