Written for “Seniors 2010” special issue of Massapequa High School’s award-winning newspaper, The Chief, released in June 2010. Every year, the previous year’s Editor-in-Chief writes a college advice piece after her freshman experience for the new graduating class. This year was my turn.
That was fast. I feel compelled to say it feels like just last month that last year’s senior editors and I were working on, or rather, slaving over our senior issue in good ol’ room 131. But that’s enough of my stroll down memory lane.
After re-reading past editor’s college advice pieces in preparation for writing this, I noticed their advice was missing something. Yes, the “do’s and don’ts” of freshman year are incredibly helpful—join clubs, learn how to do laundry, study what you love. Yet what I learned about myself this past year cannot be attained by auditioning for the symphony orchestra, distinguishing between the “perm press” and “bright colors” settings on the washing machine, or registering for LIT270, Transformations of Shakespeare.
Instead, the most valuable part of my freshman experience involves less of the college, more of me. On freshman move-in day at American University, August 15, 2009, I was a self-conscious and nervous girl, in disbelief that it was time to set up my cramped dorm room, a scene depicted in film and television countless times. Despite being overwhelmed, I remained unafraid and open to the new adventures of my first year of college. Soon enough the insecurities melted away and college was no longer intimidating. By May 5, 2010 I sadly packed up room 610 of Leonard Hall and came home to Massapequa a confident young woman. Cheesy? Maybe. True? Definitely.
And with that self-aware self-analysis comes the Marissa Cetin Three Thoughts for Your Freshman Year Mindset:
Be open.—Not having an open mind is the worst thing you can do. Even if you are scared out of your mind, do not shut-out what is around you. By closing yourself off from the new happenings, you miss out on connections, growth, and most importantly, fun. Some of my best nights spurred from surprise and spontaneity. Seize opportunities whenever possible, and do not regret it. Chances are you will regret skipping out, rather than going for it.
Be friendly.—It’s going to be awkward, but how could it not be? You likely don’t know anyone, so say “Hi” to everyone you meet. Remember, everyone is in the same position as you so there is no need to feel intimidated. You never know if that guy you met at some party will be in your Comparative Politics class next semester. I met my best friend at school by bonding over our shared fondness for a particular brand of lemonade at a Welcome Week party. It’s a fresh start to meet people, so take advantage and build as many bridges as possible. By not introducing yourself to someone, you could be missing out on your future friend.
Explore.—I am so lucky to have Washington, D.C. as my playground during the school year. I marched in the marriage equality rally, snuck in on a rehearsal of Hamlet at the Folger’s Shakespeare Library, and (possibly my favorite day in D.C.) attended the Earth Day Network’s Climate Rally on the National Mall where I heard speakers like Rev. Jesse Jackson and James Cameron and saw performances by Sting, John Legend, The Roots and Passion Pit. Even if you’re not going to be in a city, wander about the local town, and you could always day-trip to a nearby city. There’s no reason why you should feel bored when there are possibilities abound.
And so ends my last piece for the Chief. I hope my advice was helpful; I may not be an expert, but I did have an amazing freshman year which should put some merit behind my words.
If you did not find a single shred of my advice useful, I will lend you a practical tip: Get a hanging shoe-rack. Guess what, it can hold way more than shoes. Storage is key in tight dorm rooms, especially if you are assigned to a forced-triple like I was.
Good luck MHS Class of 2010 and future class of 2014, enjoy every minute of it.