10 tips every freshman should know

Every year a fresh crop of students walks through the arches and joins the St. Thomas family. But transitioning to college life isn’t always easy. New places, new people and a new lifestyle are thrown at you all at once.

Taking advice from older students and school employees can help make the transition a little smoother and clear up outside-of-class questions so you can focus on grades. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to meet with these sources one-on-one and get good advice from them; they are just as busy with the new semester as everyone else. I spoke with junior Aylie Meisner, senior Mark Brown and full-time employee Jess Walczak and collected a list of 10 tips they had for students.

Get involved – Join a club, get a job, find a group of friends. The more connections you make now the better. These are future references, networking opportunities, friends, fans and support. These are relationships that will carry you into your adult life – create and foster them.

Get outside – The two months you have every year are not to be wasted. You will be trapped in tunnels from October to April. Play some games in the quad, lay out, explore the riverside, walk down Grand Avenue and visit the shops and restaurants.

Work out – Stay active. It releases endorphins, keeps you in shape and helps you live longer. Want a more comprehensive list? Visit the Wellness Center in the Koch Commons lower level. There are hundreds of reasons to use the new Anderson Athletic & Recreation Complex.

Have fun – Find a night to get together with your friends and take a break from the busy schedule of a college student. Get to know the people you live with – you are stuck with them all year and they are a great support structure for the next four years.

Sleep – You may not get tired at first, but it will wear on you at the end of the semester when finals and papers begin crashing in. Late night gaming and cavorting across campus may be a good time, but keep the next day in mind. Tests and quizzes are not to be trifled with – these count for a large part of your grade.

Read the book – It may seem like a waste to read the textbook when the teacher is going to repeat it the next day. But the ability to interact is crucial. You won’t have to worry about catching every detail the professor explains. Instead, you can begin assembling the bigger picture and ask questions that help everyone understand how it fits together. Maybe it’ll help you remember some Art History for more than a month after finals, for example. Also, the professor just might take a liking to you – and that never hurt a grade.

Learn to share – Sidewalks, hallways and parking lots are not labeled with your name. Be courteous. Keep in mind that cars are bigger than you, older students and staff run the campus and we are all your neighbors.

Explore – There are many great local businesses and eateries other than Chipotle and Davanni’s (which do accept your Express Account). We live right on the Mississippi, which showcases scenic views and beautiful trails and is right in the middle of the Twin Cities. Step out of your comfort zone, take a bike or a bus, go for a walk and find out what is happening in the neighborhood.

Use your resources – There are offices all over campus dedicated solely to assisting you with every facet of college life from food, finances and technology to religion, living situations (including assistance for commuters) and transportation. Investigate and use what’s available to you.

Get food – Free food especially. Clubs and departments regularly hold student events that are open to the entire campus and offer enough catered food to accommodate anyone who might be interested. Save yourself some money and learn something new. When you have to resort to your meal plan, check out the Binz for lunch and meet Mary the Sandwich Lady. Try stopping by Scooters on the weekends for some entertainment with your meal.

Jordan Winters can be reached at wint6606@stthomas.edu.

2 Replies to “10 tips every freshman should know”

  1. First, I was disappointed that the “Ten Tips” did not mention the library at all! What list of tips could leave out the place, the people, and the collections that support high quality scholarship on campus?
    Then, I realized that because ALL TEN TIPS can involve or take place in the library, maybe the writers assumed it went without saying!
    You can get involved (attend a library reading or concert!), get outside (our wireless extends to the patio!), work out (take the stairs, bench press the OED!), have fun, sleep, READ THE BOOK, learn to share, explore (the intellectual history of humans!), use your resources (hundreds of thousands of books, journals and articles, many of which are digital) and get food (and great coffee!) at the library.
    Your ten tips are good ones – I suggest you consider them all in the context of the UST Libraries, where the best students are seen every day. Welcome to campus and we’ll see you in the library!

  2. The libraries at UST are absolutely excellent, so I second that recommendation.
    However, I would also encourage the Class of 2014 to check out the Center for Catholic Studies. I wasn’t aware of Catholic Studies as a new freshman in 2005, but I ended up majoring in Catholic Studies and Philosophy. Catholic Studies students, faculty, and staff are among the best and the brightest at UST, and I encourage you to get to know them. Whether or not you end up majoring in Catholic Studies, your experiences with this fantastic group of people just might change your life for the better. It certainly had that sort of impact on me and on many of my friends.
    Catholic Studies’ website can be found here:

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