FIRST year is still vividly engrained in my mind: the new people and room, the late nights and the bad food. I have no shortage of advice to give you, the incoming class. Please keep in mind these things as you prepare for school.
Your mother always told you to manage your time well--she was right. Make effective use of your time. Take on as much as possible. If you're always busy, you will never be bored and you will never waste time. My second semester was much better than my first simply because I participated in more activities. It's better for you and more fun than watching TV.
Choose the meal plan with the least meals. O-Hill sucks, Newcomb and Runk do too. That's all there is to it. You will quickly realize the tremendous amount of money wasted on first-year meal plans so try to minimize your losses. Plus Dollars are better than meals but in the end, the less money ARAmark steals from you, the better.
You will not sleep first semester so plan your classes accordingly. You think that you will be staying up late but you're wrong--you'll be up later. Make sure none of your classes are before 11 a.m. If after a semester you feel that you can get up earlier, do so, but give yourself a break for first semester.
Don't bring a wooden leg--there have been some nasty showdowns with the dormitory termites in recent years. Similarly, don't wear an eyepatch. Eye-to-eye contact is the foundation for building personal relationships.
Studies have shown that distance governs people's relationships. For obvious reasons, you are much more likely to be romantically linked to someone who lives close by--say, perhaps, in your own dorm. Thus you are likely to encounter, if not be involved in, a case of "dormcest." It will happen. Be advised, however, that everyone will know all that goes on. Your friends will all be involved in your relationship and know all its minutiae.
Never complain to others about your grades--especially if you have passed your courses, let alone done well. No one likes to hear someone complain about grades. It is a tired subject and everyone has his or her share of problems. Keep your grades to yourself.
As I stated before, extracurriculars are the key to a good time. You meet more people and they expose you to new experiences. Nevertheless, try not to fall into the trap of joining either the Honor Committee, the University Judiciary Committee, House Council or some other donkey council. While all are worthwhile organizations, there are too many other opportunities to pass up. Try them, there will probably be less bureaucracy and more for you to do.
The best courses always seem to be the ones with the best teachers. Even if the course topic interests you, a poor teacher will sap the life out of the class. Realize that you will naturally accomplish more in classes in which you are genuinely interested. Seek out the professors that people say changed their experience. There are too many good professors at the University to spend all your time on gut courses.
Along similar lines, make sure to take at least two classes that intrigue you each semester. That way, if your other courses are requirements, you will still remain motivated and interested. The best way to bad grades is a courseload of gut and/or boring classes. Bad classes breed bad habits; academic apathy will kill your motivation. You want to actually go to, and maybe even pay attention in class.
Do not, however, be the one person in the 500-person lecture who decides that the middle of class might be a good time to ask your silly, mind-blowingly stupid question. It is hard enough to pay attention in large classes without the ridiculously inconsiderate goody-two-shoes sidetracking the professor. If you plan on brown-nosing, do it on your own time.
Remember that the ultimate laundry limiter is underwear. The more you have, the less you have to wash. Remember that while it is one thing to put a pair of jeans on a couple days in a row, I do not recommend doing the same with your boxers.
Note: Clothes shortages are easily remedied. Free T-shirts are always available; simply sign your soul over to the credit card industry at any University sporting event.
Never eat at the White Spot unless you are fairly inebriated. It really is fairly nauseating when sober. The same goes for the dining halls.
Above and beyond all else, remember that to be an expert on a subject (or rather to be considered one) you don't need to know everything, you only need to know one more fact than the next person.
(Nick Lawler is a rising second-year College student. He is an associate editor for The Cavalier Daily.)