By Janet Alexander
Unigo Representative at Pitzer College
October 23, 2008
As I’m beginning my sophomore year, I can’t help but notice how much of a difference a year makes in terms of understanding how and where you are OR knowing yourself and your surroundings . At this point in my college career, I’ve settled into a variety of routines, established a central group of friends, and have essentially found my place in the Pitzer College community. And if this sounds like an abnormally fast transition, it’s not. High school was a kind of testing ground, facilitating the practice of forging relationships and a niche for you within the student body. Transitioning from high school to college means applying the efforts, skills, and lessons accumulated from the past four years into a single freshman year. So it’s no surprise that for many this proves to be an intimidating undertaking, and in retrospect, invokes both regret and satisfaction.
I try to avoid generalizing but when it comes to advising rising freshman there is something unanimously regarded as the best decision one can make in their first year of college: getting involved. And as obvious as that may sound, it turns out to be more difficult than before due to do an equally obvious claim college is different than high school. In college you’re working, studying, and living environment spaces are within the same environment, and a bizarre phenomenon occurs where suddenly having three classes in the same day is “crazy” and widely avoided by students. Time management becomes your most operative ability, dictating what, how, and when you do anything. Attending club and activity fairs is only the first step in orienting yourself with what can be done during your four years at college. Commitment becomes a consequence of your own volition; you are responsible for and free to create your student lifestyle. Participating in student groups, clubs, and organizations, is the best way to meet upperclassmen and get yourself known by your peers. Ultimately, when in doubt, try it out.
Directly opposing the best decision a freshman can make is the biggest and most commonly made mistake- that is being exclusive. The thing to remember when making most any transition is that you’re not alone; everyone is having a similar experience, but is just reacting in different ways. Don’t be afraid of the assorted changes that inevitably come with starting college. The most certain way to make the smoothest switch to college living is by approaching freshman year with a willing, positive attitude. Failing to open yourself up to the variety of possibilities and people college offers effectively renders you idle. College truly is the time to experiment, and explore the atypical.
Underlying all that you choose to do or not do is how fast it will all seem to pass. School years are fleeting, and so I feel it is in every college student’s best interest to make the most of the time they do spend in school by becoming an active member within it. Enter the next four years with the goal of always believing you are capable of producing your own successes and happiness. It may just be the best decision you make.