Going into freshman year at SCU, I had high expectations for how I thought my year would turn out. Nonetheless, my year was full of surprises and unexpected turns that I never saw coming. I am not sure how much different my life would have been, had I been given the following advice about freshman year at SCU. Still, I give all you incoming freshmen these words of wisdom with the hope that maybe you’ll be better prepared and gain the most out of your freshman year at Santa Clara.
1. Your friends will change.
At the start of freshman year, everyone is in the same boat as you: in a new place and eager to make friends. There’s a chance that the people you initially befriended in fall quarter might not be your friends by the end of spring quarter. I learned that in the beginning, people hang out with others because they’re in the same classes and it is convenient. However, as the year goes on, everyone figures out their class schedules, realizes their interests, and finds the people they want to spend time with. Don’t be crushed if you find yourself drifting from the people you thought were your friends. Once you accept this, it will be easier to move on and make time for the people who add value to your life and are meant to be there.
2. Those lifelong college friends will come around — be patient.
On that note, do know that the people who are meant to be in your life will come around and don’t expect to meet them within the first month or even second quarter of school. It’s different for everybody. Don’t be distraught if you see everyone else establishing their group while you feel lost. Trust me, more people are in your boat than you realize. Establishing meaningful relationships takes time, just be patient.
3. Taking 3+ back-to-back classes on Tuesdays/Thursdays isn’t the best idea.
Unless you have no choice, I would advise not taking three or more classes in a row on Tuesdays & Thursdays. Although a four day weekend might sound enticing, keep in mind that Tuesday/Thursday classes are longer than Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes (1 hour, 40 minutes compared to 65 minutes!) and that you’ll just spend your free days doing all the work for those classes. Also, your brain will be tired from sitting through nearly 8 hours of class in one day, so do yourself a favor and try and balance your classes on all days of the week.
4. Math at 8am is a no-go.
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking that getting up for an 8am class in college is the same as high school. Spoiler alert: it’s way harder. Unless your professor is the best in the department, skip taking math at 8am at ALL costs. Math in college is a lecture class, and you’re not forced to participate. Thus, it can and WILL be harder to concentrate because you are not forced to pay as much attention, as you would in say, a language class, where participation is crucial to your grade and you are more encouraged to talk. So say no to math at 8am and save it for a time when you’ll be more awake.
5. C & I classes are your friends, not your enemies.
All SCU undergrads are required to take the Cultures & Ideas sequence as part of the SCU core. These classes range from subjects like anthropology and sociology to art history and philosophy. Incoming freshmen take note: spend time reading the descriptions of the C & I classes and choose one that truly interests you. C & I is your opportunity to take classes that for the most part are completely unrelated to your major. Seriously: When else are you going to have the chance to take an art history class in your life?! I took art history for my C & I, afraid that it would be super boring since I DESPISED museums at the time. Now, I’m doing an art internship this summer. Lesson here: You might actually end up falling in love with your C & I, so choose wisely!
6. Time management is essential.
Take time to go to the gym. Take time to grab dinner and hang out with friends. And take time to go to that extracurricular club you love once a week. Your brain is not designed for studying all the time, and trust me, you’ll be more productive with your studies after taking a break from the material.
7. College is more than studying and academics.
Similar to #6: College is a collective experience of working hard and playing harder. Volunteer with SCCAP once a week, join the intramural soccer team, AND go to the Martin Garrix concert on a Wednesday night (You never know when he’s coming back to SF!). Not only will you have the opportunity to meet new people, but after four years, you’ll look back and be grateful for all the opportunities you took advantage of and adventures you embarked on!
8. First impressions are not accurate.
I was completely turned off by some people I met from Orientation and Welcome Weekend, because they seemed so standoffish. Little did I know they would end up being some pretty cool people. Don’t be turned off by first impressions. I used to have this mindset that it would be friendship at first sight. I would just know when I met my best friends in college. That’s definitely how life doesn’t happen. On the contrary, some people I met this year were super friendly at first and then ended up being fake. Just know that everyone has their moments. For good or for worse, and it takes time to truly know a person.
9. Going to events alone is an opportunity.
For some reason, sometimes people are afraid of going to places alone and of being alone in a crowd. But the beauty of freshman year is that everyone’s new and trying to find their place on campus. Take this opportunity and go to events alone. Embrace the fact that you don’t have to stay with your group for the night and that you are a free bird. You never know who you might run into or who you might meet. I went to an event alone earlier this year and ended up talking to a guy who I shared lots of mutual friends with. Because we had both come alone, we could sit next to each other and get to know one another better. Now, he’s a good friend. Tip: confidence is key. Walk into the room like you’re Beyonce and you’ll instantly feel more at ease.
10. You will fail — but you will survive.
Whether it’s a failed relationship or a big fat D on your math midterm — or both — it happens to all of us. Despite our best efforts, sometimes the odds are just not in our favor, and it is not meant to work out. And that’s okay. Just know that failing is NOT the end of the world. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but honestly, the best part about hitting rock bottom is that there’s only one way to go, and that’s up. Failing gives us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, improve for the future, and grow as individuals.