Monday, August 20, 2012

Dear Younger Self: Things to Know Before Freshman Year

Why hello there, freshman me (and new freshman eavesdropping). You have just completed the M-Climb and Orientation blather, but school starts and stuff gets real. Get ready to lose your time, sleep, mental health, hygiene, and anything "normal" about you (except normal forces! Gotta love those). Below is a non-exhaustive list of things that would be pretty nifty to know going in, although some will have to be learned the hard way. Some things are things that just work for me, some things are past advice given by older students, some things are facts of life at Mines. It's gonna be difficult, but it's gonna be a blast!!

Getting ahead isn't the most important thing anymore.

People who think they know it all will try to tell you stuff. Wise people will try to give you great advice.You have to figure out who's full of good advice and who's just full of it.

Don't get behind. It takes one week to go to living homework assignment to assignment. And it's impossible to get ahead once you're behind, so take each semester and stay on top of it.

Choose Geophysics as a major because it's awesome and you are awesome, not because you don't want to take Chem II. Although that tidbit certainly makes it more attractive...

Have a test routine. Maybe you don't take tests well, or maybe there's one subject with an exam coming up that will make you shake. But find out ways to focus and relax. My routine is: study until two hours before the exam, pray for focus and help, maybe play the piano, eat a good meal, maybe listen to my iPod as I'm walking to the room, chew gum throughout the exam, and switch pencils if I'm on a problem.

Don't wait 'til midnight to start homework or studying. Just please, don't.

Wearing a suit to Career Day as a freshman = winning. They'll probably think you're a junior or grad student.

It's okay to cry. Just pull yourself together and focus on what you have to do next.

You're gonna hate EPICS as a class; you'll think it's stupid and useless. Hope to get a good team- although many people will complain about their teammates after they reviewed them and before the final report is due.

You'll probably either hate Chemistry or Physics. Or both.

Attitude is everything. If you think a class sucks, it will. If you think writing papers is dumb, your grades will reflect it. And if you keep muttering that you hate physics to your studio're gonna have a bad time.

Units! Remember to put them. Small things like these add up on exams.

Try everything, meet everyone, do everything, get involved, and put yourself out there first semester! This will be the perfect time to have fun and make friends before you can buckle down with harder classes second semester.

If you're on the 14 meals a week plan, you should take your books to breakfast, eat, study for a few hours, then eat lunch. Two-for-one meal swipes!

There are good and bad things about being on a small campus. Mostly good. But try to remember people's names who apparently know you. And try to be reasonable when something is suddenly changed, and don't do or say anything impulsive because you think it isn't fair, because it is a small campus.

Living in the dorms is awesome. Take advantage of the opportunity this year and become friends with a bunch of different people.

The food's okay. But after a few months (weeks?) you'll find that "stale" is an anagram for "Slate", which also will count for their music playlist.

It's impossible to watch an action movie without it being dissected from now on. Embrace it, or never watch movies with engineering students.

Don't be afraid to change, but remember who you are.

Don't go to EPICS on Fridays. Well, most Fridays.

If you bring a stapler to class the day the worksheet's due, everyone will love you.

There is no such thing as an easy A here.  If you want a grade, you'll have to do the work for it- and more. And you might not end up with the grade you want even if you work hard.

Work hard, have fun, relax.