If you haven’t noticed, nervous 18-year-olds and teary parents have been a staple on campus for the past few weeks, which means another season of freshman orientation and registration sessions has wrapped up. It seems to me that those days are not so far behind, but I’m heading into my senior year this fall, and my tiny closet in the freshman dorms is a thing of the past.
My three years at St. Thomas thus far have taught me a thing or two (or 18) about navigating this crazy world as a college student. So, I decided to amass a list of Tommie hacks and life lessons I wish I had known as a freshman to share with those who will follow my well-worn path in and out of St. Thomas’ classic arches.
1. The underground tunnels are a godsend from November to April. You can get from Murray-Herrick Campus Center all the way to Aquinas Hall without ever going outside. And they really aren’t that creepy … if you don’t think about the footsteps echoing behind you.
2. Make the most of your first semester of college. I slept in until 10 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That sounds like paradise to me now.
3. Don’t wear your lanyard around your neck. Just don’t.
4. If you want to study abroad, plan well in advance and save some generals. I was able to have all of my credits transfer because I saved two or three general classes to take on my study abroad program.
5. On that note, study abroad! St. Thomas offers great programs for almost any length of time. You could go on a VISION trip for just a week, take a January-Term class somewhere way warmer than Minnesota or spend a semester or year in a foreign country and really soak in another culture. Expand your mind.
6. Enjoy living in the dorms. They are one of the most fun places you’ll ever live – and also probably the smallest. Make the most of the simplicity.
7. Invest in a good winter jacket and snow boots. The walk from the Upper Quad to Brady Educational Center will feel like miles once the freezing temperatures hit, and you don’t want wet feet sitting through an hour and 40-minute class.
8. Remember where you come from. Remember who you are. Stay true to your deepest self.
9. Remember where you’re going. I have both defined and refined myself through this collegiate journey, and you will too.
10. Make friends with your professors. They truly want the best for you and are great resources for finding internships and making contacts in your respective field.
11. Find out who your friends are. It’s OK to grow apart from high school friends. But there are people who you will go home to, and it will feel like nothing has changed. Those are the friends who will stick around, even if you don’t talk every single day.
12. Don’t give in to stereotypes. Not every St. Thomas student is filthy rich, not every Macalester undergrad is hipster and not every Johnnie is misguided. Well, two out of three of those, anyway.
13. Go to sporting events. We are fortunate to have incredibly talented Tommie sports teams, and they work hard, so give them a little support.
14. You don’t need a car to get off campus. Make use of the free Minneapolis shuttle, and go downtown for a night. Or go grocery shopping at Target; you can get there through the skyways.
15. Don’t procrastinate too much. It will make your life much easier and your classes much more reasonable.
16. Use those student discounts. You can get discounts at J. Crew, the North Face and even Apple. Twins home games are $5 for college students on Wednesdays, and the Timberwolves have great deals, too.
17. Ask questions. Professors will be able to tell you are engaged if you ask questions in class.
18. Take risks. Stay up too late. Live every moment because these are the last few years of jobless freedom. And it really is a fun ride.
Take it from someone who can see the end of the path. I have hurtled through the past three years, embracing the wide-open future and dreading the day my St. Thomas journey will hit a dead-end sign. Best of luck, class of 2018.
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