You’re here. You finally made it. College; the best four years of your life, the time to let loose and hoard calories, right? Not so fast there, party animal. There are some serious changes to encounter in college. In fact, this transition will take a lot out of you, and I don’t mean your wallet. College will be a time of uncertainty and self-discovery. You’ll discover interesting things about yourself: which math classes elevate your blood pressure, how you cope with existential crises, and which parking garages satisfy your nervous commuter senses. You might have an urge to shed tears onto your acceptance letter-and nobody can blame you for that—but if you follow this guide compiled by scarred seniors and wise alumni, you will navigate the hurdles of college. So slap on your book bag, wipe off your neck sweat, and brace yourself for these next four years.
1) Mingle with your classmates. No, I don’t mean get their numbers and take them on a smoothie date. College is the one place that will grant you access to all sorts of people from different backgrounds. Try your best to make a friend in each class, whether that means offering them a pretzel or complaining together about the weather in class. This camaraderie will pay off in the very near future. If you don’t know what the homework is, you have your buddy. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you have your buddy. If you just want to cry with someone who understands the agony of Stats class, vent to that buddy. After all, tragic situations bring people closer.
“I talked to people and asked for help when I needed.” – Ana, Psychology major.
“Focus on building new friendships and relationships and getting used to the new culture and lifestyle of school.”-Geordie, Business Management alumni.
“My friends are what made CCSU good. Knowing that we are here to help each other thrive is always a positive.” –Justin, Media Studies major.
2) Use Your Resources. This is college. Your brain is supposed to go insane. But before you check into the clinic, head over to the Learning Center. Their jobs are to help you develop better math and studying skills. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a bed reserved for you in the math center-with your name on it. Don’t underestimate the capabilities of your school, because people do care. Admitting you need help is the first step.
“One challenge that I had was anything math and science related considering I’m really bad at it.” – Justin.
Learning to divide your time accordingly and not overloading your plate will decrease your chances of getting burnt out.”-Bitu, Finance major.
“I would tell freshmen to make a study schedule, so you can balance school and social life easier.”-Nick, Construction Management major.
3) Know the Good Eats. Everyone loves to take a bite out of a mean grilled chicken sandwich at Devil’s Den or bask in a candle-lit quesadilla dinner in Memorial Hall with that hottie from Biology. But on days when you’re feeling a little risky, you can head down to Mooyah, right off of Ella Grasso for some juicy burgers and silky shakes. Or if you favor convenience, take a nature stroll across good ol’ Stanley St. towards the Underground Deli. Enjoy the limitless variety of sandwiches available to your hungry soul. School shouldn’t have to taste dull. Never settle for ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches. CCSU has your back.
“Underground Deli is #1 for food.” -Mike, Criminology alumni.
“Devil’s Den has some really good food and a wide variety of food preferences.”-Bitu.
“Dominos, Pizza Hut, Subway, and MooYah are great for close options. Taco Bell and McDonald’s are little further away, but always great safeties.”-Bitu.
4) Frugality Is a Virtue. There will come a time where you’re required to buy a twenty- pound textbook for a class; whether it’s a prerequisite or a class you wanted to take. But when these tragic times come up, your bank account is called to make the ultimate sacrifice. Some of the prices on these books will make you want to shrivel up in a corner and yank each thread of hair out of your head. But you’re not alone: this happens to almost everyone. The key is to put away money for desperate, painful times like these. You don’t need to spend it all in one place.
“Save your money, because you never know when you’re going to need five hundred dollars.” – Justin.
5) Know Your Professors. I’m not saying you need to throw apples on their desk and ask them how their vacation with Eileen went, but it doesn’t hurt to open up to them about your goals and thoughts on creative non-fiction-good ones that is. I’m saying to go beyond the typical “Hi” or “I need help” or one I’m guilty of, “When’s (insert assignment you forgot about, here) due?” It’s true, professors do want to see you succeed and they are very helpful especially when you meet them during their office hours. But befriending them can do wonders down the road when you want to make connections or snag a job reference.
“Build Relationships with your professors. They’ll be a big help, especially further on in your college career.” –Mike.
6) Get Involved. It may be a cliché, but getting involved on campus looks good on a resume and allows you to thrive with opportunities you couldn’t even imagine. There are so many different clubs and activities at CCSU. There are about more than a hundred offered by the campus, including the broadcasting, biology, and even a dance team!.. Love entertaining? Audition for the plays in Maloney Hall! Want to talk someone’s head off? There’s a student radio station for that. Broke and unable to pay for that twenty-pound textbook? There are reception and information desk positions at the Student Center. No matter how you choose to get involved on campus, just remember you will gain something unique from each experience.
“What made CCSU so enjoyable was all the opportunities the school had to offer and the jobs/organizations I had gotten involved in.” -Quince, Media Studies major.
“My only regret is not getting involved earlier. Go to the club fairs at the beginning of the year. Go to CAN events to meet new people and clubs.”-Bitu.
“A really good way to get involved and meet other Student Leaders is by going to the Student Center and talking to people. The Student Center is the Hub for all CCSU clubs.”-Bitu.
7) An Unclear Path. There will be days where you feel unsure of what your path is, like everyone knows what they’re doing except you. The doubtful days might hit you like a brick, but know that it’s part of the adult process. There are professors and career center advisors there to guide you through options. Your classes also give you a taste of different industries, so don’t be afraid to experiment when you register. There’s no law that says you can’t take pottery and biomolecular science in the same semester. Just take charge and get used to making your own decisions.
“One of the biggest challenges in college was realizing that it was all up to me and that I was responsible for my success.”-Quince.
“For incoming freshmen, I would tell them to try their best, also not to stress about not knowing what they want to do right away.” –Geordie.
8) Nobody’s Perfect. We get it. You want to impress your professors your first year and you’re just motivated like crazy. I got news for you; don’t sweat it. I’m not saying it’s okay to skip class to chug a smoothie in the Devil’s Den, but you must remind yourself that one bad grade isn’t going to make your life suck. Dating might make your life suck. But anyways, if you fail one test your first year, don’t be discouraged. College is a lot more demanding than high school so just try your best and don’t break too many sweats. Save that for the campus gym.
“It’s ok to fail. So, in your freshman year if you don’t do well in a class or at all, you’ll be fine. That won’t affect your whole college career.”-Justin.
“Advice I would give to freshmen would be to never give up and take advantage of every opportunity and explore your passions early on.”– Quince.
9) Don’t Fret, Find Parking. Probably one of the first things you’ll notice about CCSU is the infinite number of parking lots and garages. There are different ones located all throughout campus. In fact, this is a heavily commuter-based school considering only 25 percent of undergrad students actually dorm. So if you’re headed to an engineering class, don’t fret. You have Copernicus garage on your side. If you’re late to theatre class, swing your whip into Welte Garage, but don’t forget your Bluechip for this one. If you procrastinated getting a parking pass, cruise on down into the Student Center garage and surface lots. Just remember that surface lots at the center tend to stay filled up for most of the day. But parking doesn’t have to be painful if you take these pointers.
“Parking can be tough and will always be rough the first few weeks of each semester. The key is to get to school much earlier than your class time.”-Bitu.
“Copernicus garage has the most space out of all the parking garages.” -Geordie.
“Commuting to school between 9:30-12:30, it was very tough to find a spot.” –Geordie.
Sooner or later you will look back at this article as a senior and laugh about how much you probably didn’t follow these tips—and that’s okay. I am not judging, but just remember to make your college experience your own and never give up hope. You are enrolled for a reason: to accomplish goals, to set more, and reach for the stars. Never limit yourself, and never settle—that applies to food, dates, and classes. The CCSU Class of 2019 wishes you good luck on the next four years of your life. Here’s to the 2020 freshmen!
Headline Photo courtesy of Kelsey Murray for Blue Muse Magazine.
Mary Elias is a staff writer for Blue Muse Magazine.