Things I Wish I Knew as a First Year: A Compilation

As the beautiful autumn weather descends upon Wesleyan again, so does drop/add. And with drop/add comes a lot of stress. And if you’re a first year, you’re probably stressed about a whole lot more than whether you’ll get a seat in Myth, Magic, and Movies this semester.

What you’re going through right now is not unique. We’ve all been through it. Even those of us that were first years no less than 4 months ago have tons to say. The transition into college is difficult. Sure, some people make it look easy, but try not get caught up in that.

The advice in this column was anonymously sent into Wesleying’s TipBox by many wonderful members of Wesleyan’s community. Take a deep breath, get off of Instagram, and take a minute to read it.

  1. “The extra money I can potentially make working extra hours each week is not worth the sacrifice, whether that be my studies, my social life, or even my health. An extra $300 seems like it matters now, but to risk ruining my GPA (and therefore career, in a sense) isn’t worth it.”
  2. “Walking into campus, I immediately felt the pressure to pick two sides: be completely political or not participate at all. It took me a while to grasp that politics at Wes is a spectrum–I could participate as much as I want, but I could also lay low at times where I’m not entirely comfortable with the political atmosphere.”
  3. “It’s totally okay to question everything–even questioning who you are. I thought that all of the questions of my identity weren’t, but accepting that conversations do exist about identity (for me, racial identity and how it plays with my ambiguity) really opened so many doors for me.”
  4. “Don’t be intimidated by the people who seem to know exactly what they want to or who talk a lot about their accomplishments already.”
  5. “Take your health seriously; if you don’t feel well you don’t have to go out even if you feel like you’ll miss out, there will be more nights to go out and you don’t want to make yourself sicker.”
  6. “Talk to older students about their experiences.”
  7. “Pay attention to school politics and don’t let them discourage you about what you can get out of going to wes but don’t be afraid to speak up about what upsets you about them.”
  8. “Students will take intro level courses even if they know half of the material already, don’t be discouraged by them either.”
  9. “Go to office hours and talk to your professors outside of class.”
  10. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
  11. “Get to know your RA to get on their good side.”
  12. “Enter PAC and exit Olin on cold days.”
  13. “Wake up for brunch.”
  14. “Time management is key. (Everyone says this and everyone is right).”
  15. “You don’t have to drink/smoke/do drugs to have a good time. There are plenty of substance-free people to hang out with on campus and they’re just as awesome. There are also people who do enjoy substances that are fun af and will make you feel included. If drinking/smoking is not how you roll, plssss don’t feel pressured to do so. You can still go to parties, stay in, go to UCAB, sleep, eat, chat, chill, do homework withouttttt all that stuff. As someone who is substance-free, it really sucked at first to be at campus on the weekend and I felt left-out a lot if everyone was drinking except for me. DON’T BE ME (at first) and do what makes you happy with people who make you happy!! HAVE FUNNN!!! :D.”
  16. “You might be alone in your room on a Friday night, but that’s ok. Being alone is ok. Sometimes you just need some time to yourself.”
  17. “Feeling lonely is normal. A lot more people are feeling like that than you think. It’s always ok to spend time alone, but don’t forget to push yourself to talk to others and get to know people.”
  18. “Join the frisbee team! Do ski week! Take an art class! Join a club that you thought you’d never be interested in. There’s so many things to do on campus, don’t let yourself fall into old habits. Meet new people.”
  19. “Whatever you think college is going to be, it’s not. At times it’s going to be much better, and at times a bit tougher. I wish I knew that it’s normal to have these ups-and-downs.”
  20. “Don’t go looking for your best friends for life, don’t go looking for your future partner. If you’re supposed to meet those people now, you will. It may take time, and it’s hard to be patient. But that’s the way things work around here, and the wait is worth it. Everything happens for a reason.”
  21. “Unlike in high school, you don’t need to have a ‘group’. Be confident in yourself as an individual. You’re a badass.”
  22. “Never ever drink on an empty stomach. Even if you think ‘eh it’ll totally be fine’.”
  23. “Don’t take the intellectual posturing and vanity on this campus too seriously as an underclassmen. You’ll realize that you don’t need to be intimidated by others and that you are actually formidable yourself..”
  24. “Getting involved in on-campus activities, whatever they may be, is the best deterrent of homesickness. Be fearless, and do that which is your passion, because you only have this life, and you’ll meet people whose priorities and behaviors do not line up with yours – surround yourself with positive, uplifting people. And it’s okay – no, it’s necessary – for you to go against the current of the crowd when finding yourself. In the eternal words of Les Brown, ‘do not go where the path may lead; go where there is no path, and leave a trail.’ Good hunting, and may you find yourself here at Wesleyan..”
  25. “If you have a roommate that you have serious issues with, make moves to move out. seriously. do it. having a bad roommate will fuck you up..”
  26. “Be sure to keep hand-towels handy, because your residence hall may not even have paper-towels in some of the bathrooms. This is true in places like Clark, the Butts, Bennet, etc.”
  27. “If you are pre-med, do not rely solely on the pre-med adviser’s advice. Mildred is not the most reliable. The best advice if you are pre-med is to find other pre-med upperclassmen and get their advice as well as doing your own research as best as you can. Mistakes were made my freshman year, and sometimes they can be costly.”
  28. “You don’t have to go out every night just because everyone else is. Do your own thing, realize that sometimes hanging out just by yourself is the way to go.”
  29. “Things aren’t gonna happen immediately. You aren’t going to find your best friend the first week. Other people may look like they have, but trust that social media and what you perceive from the outside are often different that what’s actually happening. Be yourself, and trust the process.”
  30. “If you’re gonna sit on Foss to do your homework, get ready to get nothing done. Close your books and laptop and take a moment to chill. You’re not gonna get any wifi there anyway.”

After all this advice, I’d just add one last thing:

A lot of shit goes down on this campus. The student body is often at odds with the administration, and the administration does a lot of stupid shit. But, there is one thing that always holds true, and there is one thing that we can always depend on: what makes this place truly wonderful is the people. Wesleyan is, and always will be, driven by the people on this campus, and each of you is now one of us. So don’t worry, freshmen. It’ll be ok.


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4 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Knew as a First Year: A Compilation

  1. Landoo

    The most sickening thing about this school is that it provides an unparalleled education and will tell low income students “hey it’s fine you will just pay what you can afford to pay and you’re fiiine” and I got all excited thinking “this is my destiny!! yay!! I can finally break the cycle of poverty in my family!!” but it isn’t that at all. I couldn’t afford to get back to campus after my first year; not with private student loans, not with working for the summer (because I was already doing that since my summer earnings were already included in my FA package), and not with the help of my parents since they don’t have anything. I tried stripping in the city to earn SOMETHING so I could go back, but I couldn’t handle it. There wasn’t anything that I could do. I loved being on campus so fucking much and I can barely say the name of this school anymore without tearing up. It’s been two years, I’m going to community college, and I am always comparing my classes to Wes. Always thinking about how much I wish I had the money to go back. It hurts so bad, man.
    So, if you have a risky financial situation and you didn’t know about the existence of QuestBridge until you got to campus (and were then no longer eligible), cut your losses. Go to a school in-state where you can get scholarships. This university provides an amazing education, whether the admin is ‘fucked’ or the fucking bathrooms are too gender binary, but if you can’t afford it, it isn’t for you. Wesleyan just likes having you because you add to their “we have this many first gen/low income students! diversity!” part of their website. And I don’t think that any other ‘elite college/university’ is any different.

  2. its ok if it sucks too

    it might not be OK – — this place is toxic/ scary / fucked up + trying to make u into an atomaton 4 the state/ capital. idk like, if you need to gtfo then do it earlier rather than later + get in less debt.

    do what u need to survive…. steal the money/ climb the buildings / sleep / disengage/ take weekends off/ be lazy /

  3. Lauren Conte

    I’d like to address the classism involved in piece of advice #1. Not all students have the luxury of turning down that “extra $300” or whatever amount it may be. Some students’ enrollment at Wes depends on the money they make working one if not several on-campus jobs despite their mental and physical health. I find this advice to be very insensitive.

    1. Buck Merry

      “extra” is the key word here. the result is “extra money,” which is distinct from “money I have no choice but to work for”

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