August 13, 2014

Freshmen: Here's Some Advice from a Recent UGA Grad


Photo Credit: Robert Newcomb / UGA Photographic Services

You've been through orientation, but now let us really orient you.

Congrats on making it to the esteemed University of Georgia. Your being here means you completed high school without screwing up in a huge way, or at least without screwing up your pre-trial diversion program for your MIP. Not only that, it means that you’re really smart, really athletic, really rich or some combination—you superior teen, you. The next four years are a crossroads for you, a magical slide into your adult life, your career and beyond. You now have the enjoyable task of carving this path for yourself, and, being a recent grad myself, I have a few tips that should make it easier or less embarrassing or something. 

Live in Athens. Most of you probably chose to come to UGA for the university itself, but probably some of your more self-aware peers thought of choosing a college partially as choosing a city in which to live. Regardless of which category you belong to, don’t miss out on the chance to live in Athens. And I’m not talking about the plethora of awesome college bars—you shouldn’t be interested in those for a couple years anyway, right?—and game days. See a movie at Ciné. Buy a book at Avid. See a show at Caledonia. Learn about the issues that affect this city. Though there aren’t a ton opportunities for full-time salaried positions here, and most of you will have to relocate after graduation to find jobs, make the most of your time in this weird little town. 

Befriend one teacher. Introduce yourself to every teacher you take on the first day of class (the only exceptions are huge lecture halls). This allows you to make an impression on your teacher and allows you time to decide if you like her enough to pursue a closer relationship (no, not like that). Many teachers will offer to meet with you to discuss big projects—do this. Meet with at least one teacher multiple times or take her for more than one. Many of you will need recommendation letters for grad school or a job, and they can’t write one for you unless they know you well. Plus, teachers are excellent career-advice givers! 

Try something new. If you stayed in every Friday night in high school, try going to some frat parties. If you always had a boyfriend or girlfriend, try being single. If you’ve never eaten Thai food, we have a couple of tasty options. There’s a club on campus for every possible interest you could have, so explore them. And don’t try something once and immediately discount it—it takes some time for new habits to sink in.

Don’t burn bridges. A lot of you are probably Georgia natives on HOPE, and coming to Georgia feels like high school part 2 in a new and improved location. Just because half of your pals from Milton are here doesn’t mean you have to stay friends with them, and it doesn’t mean you have to cast them off entirely, either—you never know who will be able to hook you up with a job or an internship. So say "hi" and be friendly when you pass your classmates on campus, but don’t feel bad about leaving it at that. 

Drink water. What does this have to do with college? Everything. Until late September, you will be soaked by the time you arrive in your classes. (If you aren't, thank the sweat-gland gods for their gift to you). Buy a decent water bottle; bring it with you everywhere. In addition to daytime sweating, drinking lots of water during your nighttime activities is equally important. In fact, I would advise one glass of water between your, uh, Capri Suns. Then in the morning, you can fill up your nice water bottle with coconut water, which is great for rehydration. 

Take trips. This one’s pretty simple. Some of the best memories I have from college are times that my friends and I piled into a car and went somewhere, even when we slept on a kitchen floor. 

Be open minded. I thought I knew exactly what kind of person I was and exactly what I wanted to do by the time I got here. I was so wrong. Don’t be afraid of change. This is the first time you’re really on your own and uninfluenced by the things (and people) that surrounded you at home. Don’t reject new kinds of people, places and interests just because they’re different from what you’re used to—that’s the best thing that college has to offer.