The Best Decisions and Worst Mistakes Freshmen Make at Utah

Utah Freshman

By Annie Paul
03/04/2015
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By Annie Paul
Unigo Campus Rep at Utah

Like most students around the nation, incoming freshmen at the U have a load of things to adapt to when they first step on campus. From the hikes to and from the dorms to the self-proclaimed delicious food found at our Union and that offered by the meal plans, to the somewhat horribly changing weather, to, of course, the whole college experience thing — there is a lot to make room for when you’re one of several thousand students in your same class.

Now while the U may not be as huge as others, it does have nearly 30,000 students, and when you are in a class made up of 250+ (which for Frosh and non-Honors students happen to be nearly 3 out of 4), you start to feel it. But the truth is, the first time one steps on this somewhat eclectic campus (old and new buildings connected by all kinds of paths with people chilling on the grass and the music of bands playing outside for our annual Red Fest…), one really does start to feel like this is where it’s at. So here we have compiled the best decisions and worst mistakes made by a few current students so that you, prospective freshman (or interested parent or curious U of U student), get a broader idea of the experiences various people face at the U and as college-aged students in general.

For example, as a sophomore in the Honors Business track, I confess that the best decision I made (and one that I wish I wouldn’t have realized so late in the game, in my opinion) was to get rid of Pre-Med, changing that to ‘Pre-Law’-ish, staying with Business, and getting as much involved as possible in activities ranging from clubs, honor societies and community events. As opposed to popular belief, a busy/active schedule can only help improve your academic life; not hinder it.

Sophomore Julie Sagers, who’s studying PoliSci, admitted that one of the best things she could have ever done with her college career here is having “[gotten] involved with the Hinckley Institute of Politics.” Through forums, seminars, internships, and other programs, the HIP strives to get students involved in the political process at the University (More at Hinckley.utah.edu). Furthering that involvement, Julie even went on to work at the office of the mayor of Salt Lake City this past summer, as part of a group of internships the HIP offers when spring semester rolls around.

In addition, the best decision made by another sophomore, Aneesa Turner, who’s fulfilling a dance major, doesn’t really have anything to do with school. In fact she confessed that she’s practically glad beyond belief that she finally “[moved] out of my parents' house [which she did last Spring] because it really made me grow up a lot, in the fact that it threw me into the ‘real’ world.” Such a transition also helped her “[learn] the differences between want and need” and it has also given her “the freedom to grow into the person that I have become.” She didn’t move into the dorms, but to the housing provided by the Newman Center, the Catholic parish on campus. (More at unewman.org)

On the other hand, when it comes to worst mistakes, these girls had trouble coming up with many, because they later admitted that their decisions have all helped them learn enough not to regret and complain about as much as other students do. In any case, Julie’s mistake was “probably not taking advantage of all the opportunities to join [more] clubs and different organizations on campus,” which can be a big blunder if you go to the U. There’s literally so much to do (just check out our Student Groups website, asuu.utah.edu/groups) that it makes it hard to not know. Ignorance is not an excuse here. Every day you’ll find something to do and clubs are so open, you may join anytime—so you may either become an avid officer from the first meeting or join on the last meeting of the year— and be part of as much or as little as you’d like.

In contrast, my big mistake didn’t have to do with getting involved, which I already had under control. I regret not having taken enough time to research the major I thought I wanted to do. Apparently I kept hearing from so many people here in the States that one shouldn’t go to college with an explicit idea of what you want to get into, and only take the time to find what one really loves, and I never believed them. I had always dreamt of becoming a doctor; yet the sciences didn’t treat me well in high school and somehow I thought I would LOVE them in college. Well, one semester of General Chemistry and a 3-decimal-point-lower GPA later, I decided Pre-Med was NOT for me. Thankfully I picked another major along with Pre-Med—Business—and I love every minute of it. Keep in mind that here at the U, Pre-Med is only a track or a “focus” and not a major. Therefore along with such a track (and many others, including, Pre-Dental, Pre-Law, Pre-Vet, Pre-whatever), one has to pick at least one more major to satisfy the departmental along with the general education requirements.

College is all about the experiences, and for these students, their experiences –both good and bad—have varied from a quest for independence, to managing the careers of a rising politician and an entrepreneur in the making. If there is one thing they all of them have in common, it’s that they have forgotten about those mistakes. In college, you move on and you dance to your own beat. They have been only thriving leaders in their fields, never followers. And their opportunities will only keep on coming.

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