By John Sherman Unigo Campus Rep at Connecticut College These are the words on the lips of countless college upperclassmen when they look back on their freshman year of college. Talk to anyone who’s been there, and they’ll tell you at least one thing they regret, and even more things they’re glad they did. My worst mistake as a frosh was relying too much on the fact that I live only an hour away from school. I went home every two or three weekends in my first semester and missed out on a lot of opportunities to meet people at dances and parties. The following semester, I realized that I didn’t need to depend on home and stopped visiting as often. I started to enjoy school a lot more, and, more important, it started to feel like home. I don’t mean to suggest that freshman year is all about falling on your face – conscious decisions are important, too! The best decision I made in my freshman year was to take courses that were very different from one another because I had no clue what my major might be. The experience was great because I learned a lot about each subject, and I learned especially that I never, ever want to take another government course as long as I live. Based on my experience, as well as those of others who’ve made it through the woods of freshman year, I’ve collected a few common “best decisions” and “worst mistakes” that are worth noting. Jeff Lee, a sophomore, said that his worst mistake of freshman year was not getting involved enough on campus. This is something I heard from several people during my interviews. A lot of students shy away from joining clubs and activities at the beginning of the year, either because they’re hesitant to do things they haven’t done before, or feel awkward because they don’t know anyone — and they often regret it. Most schools have an activity fair at the beginning of the year where all student clubs and organizations can advertise, and it’s a great time to sign up for anything that piques your interest. There is one caveat, of course: Don’t get overloaded. Some freshmen get carried away signing up for anything and everything, and end up with commitments to five clubs on one night, on top of a full course load. Balance is important, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. “My worst mistake of freshman year was not communicating with my roommates,” said Erin Wilson, also a sophomore. Building new relationships is a vital part of adjusting to college. Too often, freshmen have problems with their roommate(s) but decide, “Oh well, it’s not that big a deal.” Inevitably, the situation only gets worse as time goes on, and living in a room with unresolved issues isn’t fun for anyone. You won’t have your roommates forever, but you will have them for several months. Make building a good roommate relationship a priority. Building new relationships with people both inside and outside of your dorm room can be difficult when old relationships don’t change. One sophomore said his worst mistake of freshman year was “not coming to college single.” While this may be true for him, having a great freshman year is not necessarily dependent upon being single – I know numerous people who stayed in outside relationships all through freshman year. What I can say with certainty is that no matter the relationship, be it with friends, family, or significant other, it has to be flexible enough so that you have room to build another important part of your life — your life as an independent college student. Despite orientation programs, student and faculty advisors, and hundreds of people in the same boat as you, it’s easy to feel like you’re all alone, and that every other freshman seems more confident or well adjusted. The fact is, no one is sure of what to do when they first get to college – a large part of the freshman year experience is trial and error. It’s a time to explore who you are through taking a wide variety of classes, hanging out with all sorts of different people, joining new clubs and activities, and above all, having the freedom to make mistakes.