Looking back on my freshman year
Students should remember to be outgoing on campus and to try new opportunities and new things.
May 25, 2016
As I look back on my first year of college, which went by way too fast, I can think of all the great times that I had, the not-so-great times, and some of my mistakes. Of course, all of these outcomes, good or bad, add up to an incredibly unique experience and a great education in school and in many other aspects of life. I only wish that I could impart some advice to my former self based on what I have learned and experienced in my freshman year at the University of Illinois.
Many of these little tips will be intuitive, but that is the reason why they are so important. The first thing that I would tell myself is to be open-minded. Don’t be afraid to meet new people. The student body at the university is incredibly diverse, so be inclusive.
Don’t be afraid to go up and talk to people because everyone else is the same position as you are. Be extra outgoing during the first couple of weeks, if your school schedule permits it, because this will be a great time to not only get to know the campus better, but also to get to know the other students better. The first few weeks are an important time for meeting people because everyone is so eager to make new friends, but don’t be discouraged if you haven’t found a good group of friends after the first few weeks. There will be plenty of other opportunities to meet people as long as you are open to them.
Get involved on campus as early as possible. Sign-up for everything that sounds interesting on Quad Day and actually talk to the students in the booths to get a better idea of their organizations. For example, in my case, I joined the Daily Illini on a whim, assuming that I might like it because I enjoy writing. I soon found that there was a lot more to it than just the writing, including interviewing and meeting new people, gathering information on relevant events and figuring out how to coordinate my schedule appropriately. I was writing a story on the Homecoming 5K, and I decided that I might as well participate in the race. It was a lot of fun and I probably would have never heard about it had I not been writing for the Daily Illini.
I have learned that the more you delay things and put off opportunities, saying, “I’ll do it next semester,” the less likely it is that you will actually do them in the end. I would say that my favorite and most memorable experiences from first semester were a result of spontaneity. If people were going out or if I heard about some organized activity somewhere, I would just go. Even if I didn’t like it, I would have regretted it more if I hadn’t gone at all.
Freshman year was a time of learning and exploration for me. I grew as a person and learned a lot about myself in the process. One last piece of advice that I would offer is to be yourself. Stick to your values and don’t conform if you don’t want to. Your freshman year will set the precedent for the rest of your college career and likely for the rest of your independent adult life. Try new things, don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone, take advantage of opportunities while you still have them, and learn to take responsibility over your own life.
Brooks is a sophomore in DGS