What I wish I had known during my freshman year
By SUZANNE HOLLANDE
Whether the University of Mary Washington was your first choice
college, or whether it seems like a good place to bide time until you
can transfer elsewhere, it is probably in your best interest to make
the most of your time here.
I think a great college experience has to do with two things. First,
how your interests fit with what the school offers, and second, what
kind of initiative you take to utilize all those resources.
Allow me to reflect on the differences in my own behavior as a
freshman versus what I learned by my senior year.
Typical Freshman Day: -Wake up early(ish)/leisurely breakfast
-Go to gym/back to dorm to shower
while roommates are in class
-Lunch with friends
-Make it to 2PM class (and likely
the once a week night classes I signed up for)
-Spend evening in friends’ dorm(s)
-Bed by 2 a.m.
Typical Senior Day: -Wake up and be out the door by 7 a.m.
-Go to work (off campus job),
study/write papers in downtime at work
-Go to classes (again writing
papers in downtime between)
-Go to 2nd job (you guessed it-writing
papers in every little smidge of time)
-Back to apartment (gym if I felt
-Bed by 2 a.m. (hopefully)
Do you want to know the biggest difference between my freshman and
senior year? I made the Dean’s List despite adding two jobs to my
schedule, whereas during my freshman year I made mostly C’s and B’s
and I barely worked.
What changed? It turns out the only thing I needed was a better work
ethic and the realization that I could be the student I wanted to be
if I stopped messing around with how I spent my downtime.
Your freshman year is not the time to skip lunch with your friends
just to fit in an extra hour of paper writing, but do not emulate my
mistakes and take that nonchalance to the point of skipping class
without being sick either.
Going to your classes is probably the best way to ensure you will get
a decent grade by the end of the semester. If you do nothing else
academic in your day, go to class. That is my only academic advice.
You should do the assignments and you should write a few papers but it
will not seem overwhelming because you have gone to class and you are
not hearing about the paper that is due tomorrow for the first time.
Even my behavior changed during my time here. Freshman behavior: not
even emailing my professor because that takes too much initiative.
Senior behavior: going to my professor’s offices hours and emailing
them often. Getting a good grade by the end of the semester is largely
based on the overall impression you gave to the professor. If they did
not see you in class they will assume you do not care. It is also much
easier to fail someone if they do not know who you are.
Make a bunch of friends and join a bunch of clubs. You can change
majors just as easily as you can change your social circle.
There is really nothing to it, college is awesome and UMW is a small
enough community that it ensures you can find your niche.
You will learn what it takes to really make the most of the small
classes and you will figure out that those one-on-one sessions with
professors are a luxury not to be missed. For now, go to class and
enjoy making friends.
Have a great semester!
Holland graduated in 2015 with a major in International Affairs