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The Blue & Gray Press | September 25, 2018

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This junior’s declassified school survival guide

This junior’s declassified school survival guide


I am sure all of you freshmen have been hearing advice from plenty of different people on how to “survive” your first year at the University of Mary Washington. I assure you that you will survive, but surviving and thriving are two different things. If you want to “thrive” as a freshman and make the most of these first two semesters, I have some tips you will want to pay close attention to. These are just some things I have picked up during my time here at UMW.

However, I would like to preface what I have to say by making it clear that I am not a straight-A student by any means. I am about as average as they come academically, but that is why I feel I can give students similar to me an edge as this year gets going. This also gives me the opportunity to prevent students from making the same mistakes I did. So, if you are interested, read on.

The first thing I will mention is your living arrangements. As freshmen, your living conditions will probably be below the standards of what you are used to at home. Your room will most likely be one of three things: hot, cramped or old. Each dorm on this campus falls victim to at least one of those three things.

Your rooms are not the best places to do much of anything except sleep and watch Netflix. If you want to do homework, go to the University Center or the Hurley Convergence Center – both provide a better work atmosphere than your room ever could. The dorms can be very distracting due to all the people coming in and out who may not be concerned with others who are trying to study.

Unfortunately for all of you introverts, you will most likely be living with a roommate and at least two other people just a wall away. This is probably the biggest adjustment for freshmen. It’s as if the school has turned your life into a reality TV show and all the cast members are your floor mates. Best advice for that? Learn how to deal with all the drama that will ensue in the coming year, because there will be drama, I guarantee it.

And please, by all means do not let other people get between you and the reason you are here: your education. When you get mad or annoyed with someone, remember to take a step back and look at the big picture. Once you do that, the drama and even the people you thought you cared about will not seem as important.

Another aspect of freshman year that will be crammed into your head is the concept of time management. Everyone knows how to schedule things out – we have been doing it for years and hopefully you no longer have problems with it.

That being said, you will notice that you actually have more free time here than you did when you were in high school. That is because college professors usually just give you the information and expect you to run with it and learn it fully on your own time. Make sure to set aside some time for work that has not been assigned to you. Doing this for even an hour will give you a huge edge.

Finally and most importantly: go to class. Even if you know you will fall asleep, just go. Every time you skip class, you are wasting money. I guarantee some of the material the professors teach you will stick and pop into your head when you are taking a test. And do not think it’s cool to not go.

Do not be that kid that thinks they are smart enough to not go. I have seen potential valedictorians fail classes because they thought they could “learn it on their own.” Trust me. Do not do it. It is very simple, and in all honesty, you can forget everything else as long as you never miss a class. From my personal experience, if you go you will pass freshman year.

That is really all there is to it. Freshman year is a fun and rewarding experience if you let it be one, so enjoy your time here.