XOXO, Upperclassmen

Beginning college can often be a dificult transition. For many students, it is the first time living away from families and homes. Being thrown in a brand new environment does not have to be scary because you will be exposed to many new opportunities as you begin your four years at the University. Within this article, you will find advice from upperclassmen and alumni who have been in your same position. This advice contains information about beginning college and things to keep in mind as you embark on your journey at UR.

“As with any other major transition, you’re going to grow in unexpected ways over your time at the University of Richmond. This could mean that you realize you’re really not that into a certain activity or academic area anymore, even if it was ‘your thing’ in high school. Perhaps you’ll start interacting with and hanging out with people you normally wouldn’t, or it might take some time for you to feel like you’ve found your people. You likely won’t meet your best friends forever and ever within your rst few months of starting college and that’s okay. As you meet more and more people through your residence hall, classes, different activities, and from your friends, you’ll find some great like-minded people. Be patient with yourself — allow yourself the room to grow — and it’ll all be okay.”

“Remember not to pigeonhole yourself. Many students come to college with preconceived notions of what activities they want and what experiences they want to seek out without actually evaluating and trying out what the school has to offer. This can sometimes lead to disappointment because often, reality does not match up to the ideal. Staying open and willing to try new things and checking out groups and activities you may not already like is a good way to meet people and make friends you may not have normally encountered and to force yourself out of your comfort zone. Don’t block yourself from having new experiences and making new friends just because the activity isn’t exactly what you had pictured.”

“Get involved (but really actually get involved). One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t really join any clubs freshman year, and I feel like that is really one of the greatest ways to meet people. My second piece of advice would be to take a wide variety of classes freshmen year. I came in with a lot of AP credits, so I had a lot of my general requirements done, so I feel like I missed out on that kind of ‘exploration’ part of college. Looking back now, there are topics that I think would have interested me, but never got a chance to actually take classes concerning those topics. My last piece of academic advice would be, as cliche as it sounds, to do what you enjoy. You may come into college thinking you’re going into bio/pre-med to become a doctor because everyone has told you how smart you are and how prestigious being a doctor is, but if you yourself do not enjoy it then you shouldn’t be doing it. It’s okay to not know what you want to do, and it’s okay to change your path. Organization. Organization. Organization. Did I men- tion organization? It is so important to be organized, because once you start getting all of your assignments and projects, you are going to feel overwhelmed, but keeping deadlines and dates organized will help you get through everything. Another important thing to remember is that professors are there to help you. Never be afraid to ask your professor for help, or go to office hours if you are not understanding something. Professors at Richmond, more so than at other schools, really want to help you succeed. Lastly, time management. Time management is a crucial skill to have, and one that you are going to want to master — if you plan on being involved on campus, having a social life, doing well academically and sleeping. For the first few weeks of schools I would recommend planning out your day hour by hour, and you will start to realize how long certain things take, and how short other things take. This is just a tool that will help keep you focused and ensure that you are using your time wisely.”

“If I summarize my advice in two words, it would be ‘Don’t Assume.’ Don’t assume anything about yourself. People usually ome into college determined to do a certain major. However, the truth is, people almost always change or add another major or minor in some way or another. You might change and come back to what you have decided initially. The point is, do not be limited by your pre-determined or even determined major. Take a course that you may never thought of taking. Don’t assume anything about other people. Nobody knows exactly what they are doing, even after they grad- uated. Do not panic if you don’t know what you want to do yet. Honestly, you might graduate to nd out that you want to do something else completely di erent. Also, when you rst get on campus, you might feel like some people are already friends with everyone. That’s just an illusion. In a few weeks, you will realize soon that the friend group was not what it seemed like during orientation week.

Don’t assume anything about anything. This is mainly about resources on campus. UR has a huge endowment, $2.19 billion to be exact. If you want to do something, such as attending a conference, doing research, or starting your own club, ask around and you’ll find that there is a way to get some sort of funding for it. An easy way to not assume anything is to ask. Ask yourself what else you are interested in. Ask juniors or seniors to tell you about their experience. Ask professors what research they are doing, and perhaps, you can join them over the summer. It doesn’t cost anything to just ask.”

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