Advice for First Years

School starts back up in a little over one month. For the first year students starting at MU it’s 4 days less than that. These students get an extra four days at MU to prepare themselves for their next 4 (or 5 or 6) years there. This has me thinking about my first year and what I would tell myself within that first month of the new school, at a new place, with new people. Here’s 5 good pieces of advice I want you first years to know because I needed to know it myself.

1. Get along with your Roomate
This one was fortunately very easy for me because I was blessed with two wonderful and respectful roommates that I’m still friends with now. It can be hard to get along with someone 24/7 in that tiny of a space but as long as you respect them and their space they should do the same back. At the same time though don’t cling to just your roommate, go out and meet new people, make friends with people you normally wouldn’t. You’d be surprised at who you’ll end up making lasting relationships with.

2. Eating in the Dining Hall
Yes no more parents around to tell you to eat your vegetables!Just because your mom isn’t looking over your shoulder to make sure you took your appropriate amount of broccoli doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You need to keep yourself healthy and that starts with eating right. The freshmen 15 can be a real thing!

3. Use the facilities/services
There’s a gym! At MU we are lucky enough not to have to pay a membership for the gym! That means you can go whenever and however often you want to! The same goes for the computers! Also our campus offers group physical classes like yoga, kickboxing or even clay making that don’t cost that much at all! Included in these “services” are things like peer-tutoring that would be foolish not to take advantage of!

4. Academics
I was not academically prepared for college at all, high school was a breeze (okay a joke) for me. Once I got to college I got a HUGE wake up call. There is this thing called studying that actually needs to be done. If your prof tells you to read the book guess what you need to read the book because Sparknotes can’t write the in-class essay for you! Please take this one piece of advice seriously and follow through with it. You are not putting all this time, money, and effort for four years (or 5 or 6) of socializing!

5. Be you
This is the time that most people discover who they, who they want to be, what they want to, who they want to meet and where they want to go in life. The most important thing to remember through the next four years (or 5 or 6) is to be you, whoever that may be, unapologetically.

Real Estate: It’s All About Location

Location, Location, Location 

Whether you’re a resident student living on campus or commuting to school, location plays a huge role in the college experience.

People living in different locations face different situations and issues when the school year rolls around. 

For example, as a resident student I’ve faced the issue of not seeing my family and friends for weeks or even months at a time. This is because I am very involved in school outside of class and I stay on campus most weekends for my activities rather than going home. The cost of room and board is not pocket change. Since I live on campus it’s not essential that I own a car at this point in time, although it would sure be convenient not to ask people for rides when I want to go somewhere. (Although lately I’ve needed to venture off campus to important places like work and the doctor’s office, I strongly dislike asking for rides even when I really need to get somewhere.) Getting my friends outside of Misericordia together to hang out during the school year is a stretch because we all live on our own campuses. Being so far away from everyone and being so busy creates distance between all of us that is often hard to cover, especially without a car. I miss home-cooked meals and how my dogs get excited when my parents come home from work and hanging out with my little cousins. As much as I love school and the people here, sometimes I just need to get away from it all. That can be hard when I’m living in the middle of it.

I can’t say I’ve commuted to school from off campus, but I’m sure most commuter students have their own issues. I know from personal accounts that it can get annoying to live at home. It’s rough trying to get a car to campus in the relentless winters and even worse trying to find a decent parking spot every day. Commuter students might feel distant at times, not wanting to drive back to school or stay at school long enough to attend on-campus events. And gas prices…we won’t even go there. Dare I mention car problems like a dead battery or flat tire? Although resident students might miss their families and friends back home, students commuting might feel smothered by seeing these people so often and living by the same rules as ever. Just because you have a car doesn’t make you a taxi service. (Don’t you just hate when people ask you for rides? Ugh, so annoying.) 

The problems are endless if you keep thinking about them. But to any student- have you ever explored the solutions?

If you’re thinking about reaching out to someone, you probably should. I’m convinced that the times I’ve called my aunt or grandmother randomly between classes just to check in made their day. And although they may not say it, I like to think that my parents appreciate when I give them a little ring on the ‘telly.’ Heaven knows my little cousins love hearing from me! Visit your friends and family when you can whether you live on or off campus. College is a lot to handle between studies and activities, but make sure you keep in touch with people who mean something to you. Send a letter when you can and give a call when you think you should.

Commuters: Make friends who live on campus.

Residents: Make friends who live off campus.

This is a vital piece of advice. No matter where you live, it gets old every now and then. Reach out and make friends from everywhere. If you need to get away from the stress of school for a while, go hang out off campus at someone’s house. And if you need a break from doing your chores at home or listening to your dog bark, head to campus and chill with your resident friends. If residents have leftover meals from their meal plan, give commuters first dibs. In turn I’m sure your commuter friends wouldn’t mind having residents over for homemade dinner every now and then. When the weather is nasty, share your on-campus residence so commuters don’t have to drive in dangerous conditions. (Make sure you fill out the necessary overnight guest form online! Ask your RA where to find it.) When you know your pal needs to get to the store but feels bad asking, offer a ride. Feed each other. Help each other. Have sleepovers. Take advantage of your differences and everyone will be a winner.

 Remember how good you have it. Let’s face it- there are going to be little problems no matter where you live. Keep in mind that if your parents annoy you by calling you twice a day it’s because they care about you, and if your parents are at home smothering you it’s for the same reason. At this point you are blessed enough to be able to attend school and receive an education- something millions of people will never have the opportunity to do. Try to outweigh the little problems and complaints by focusing on the good things in life. College is about learning and growing. Don’t let anything keep you from doing just that!