Advice to First-Year Students from a Nostalgic Senior

Seniors Katie Koonce, Kate Sanchez, and Caroline Will. PHOTO COURTESY OF KATE SANCHEZ.

Seniors Katie Koonce, Kate Sanchez, and Caroline Will. PHOTO COURTESY OF KATE SANCHEZ.



There is no shortage of advice about college from parents to siblings or grandparents, but this advice is specifically for Westminster.

Three years ago when I moved into the quad, I was overwhelmed: with meeting so many people, the fact that I was about to share a room with a stranger, and what was up with people being so obsessed with some place called Panera or Bread Co.? Some of this advice might be overused, but it’s only because it is the truth. So take it from someone who has to graduate and figure out her life in less than 10 months. Don’t take these next four years for granted.

  • If you skip class for whatever reason (hangover, sick, out of town, etc.), email your professor ASAP because you WILL run into them in the dining hall or mail room, and they will ask where you were that day. Not speaking from experience or anything…
  • That being said, you learn just as much outside of the classroom as you do in it. Go to Open Mic nights, basketball games, Diversity Dialogues, and any club meeting you might have the slightest interest in.
  • Visit your professor during office hours even if it’s just to introduce yourself. He/she won’t forget it!
  • There’s no rule that says you have to be BFFs with your roommate. If you end up having different friend groups, it’s no big deal, and if you end up being best friends and in each other’s wedding in 10 years, that’s cool too.
  • Your first year in the quad is the only time your entire class will live in the same area. The next three years people will be scattered throughout the upper-class dorms, apartments, fraternity houses and townhouses. So make the most of it because you will miss it.
  • Believe it or not, some people you meet will be very sheltered. It will be their first time away from home, and they may have never had to wash their own clothes or decide how to spend their free time. Give them some slack and help them out.
  • Try these cheap date ideas that don’t involve hanging out in the quad: Get $2 movie tickets from the Office of Engagement in HAC, go to Saults in the Brick District for a milkshake, or go to Bek’s and get coffee.
  • Always be nice to the workers in the dining hall, the cleaning person who cleans your bathroom, mail workers, enrollment staff, etc. Kindness goes a long way, not just in life, but also on a small campus like ours.
  • The first few weeks of school will feel like you’re a 12-year-old in summer camp, with your mentors telling you where to go and what time to be there. They aren’t trying to baby you — just help you get acclimated to college life.
  • Make friends. Guy friends, girl friends and international friends. There’s also a chance someone from your hometown is here and y’all never hung out.
  • Go through recruitment. Even if you don’t think it’s for you, it is a great way to meet upper-class students and people you don’t have class with.
  • Remember, whether you are 14 hours from home, an entire country, or just 30 minutes away, it’s a big change no matter what. College is scary and fun and nerve-racking all at the same time.

No matter what, have fun. You are now a part of the greatest family: Westminster. This really is the best four years. Take it from someone who wishes she were in your shoes; I would start all over again in a heartbeat, so soak it all in and live it up.

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