I knew from the moment I received my acceptance letter in the mail that I would decide to be a part of the UNH Class of 2018, but I had absolutely no idea how amazing my first year would be. After I sent in my deposit, I immediately started looking for roommates, checking out different residence halls and I couldn’t fall asleep at night because I was too busy imagining what my next four years at UNH would be like. I had this ideal image set in my head about college, but just like many other things, that image wasn’t exactly the same as how my first year really was. I had many triumphs and plenty of failures, but every single one of them has shaped and helped me in some way, and I would like to share with you 15 of the most important things I learned during my freshman year here at UNH.
1. Respect your roommates
Living with someone who is a complete stranger to you can be a pretty terrifying thing, especially when you get your housing assignment and see that you’re in a suite with four other girls. I honestly had no clue how I was going to get along with four random girls when we were going to be living in such close quarters. Luckily though, I turned out to love my roommates; they now know me better than I know myself and they are closer to me than some of my friends from home. It is unpredictable if you are going to get along with your roommate or not, and if you guys aren’t best friends then it isn’t the end of the world. You are going to meet hundreds of new people within just the first few months of school and I can guarantee you will find the perfect person to room with by the end of the year.
2. Get involved
There are over 300 organizations to join at UNH, so get involved as soon as possible. U Day is a great amenity to everyone, not just freshmen, and is really useful when trying to see just how much UNH really offers. My biggest mistake freshman year was not getting involved, and I regret it every day. UNH has so many opportunities to make a difference on the campus and throughout the community and it is really important to be a part of it.
3. Push yourself
Transitioning into taking college level courses can be pretty hard for some students, especially if they never really had a set way to study or are pros at procrastinating until the last minute, like me. It wasn’t until the end of fall semester when I realized that I wasn’t going to get the ideal GPA that I wanted. I felt really bad about myself and immediately decided that I was going to push myself to work hard in order to boost that GPA and prove just how much I am capable of accomplishing. It is really important to push yourself to the fullest while you’re in college and start off freshman year on the right foot to help yourself out when you’re further along in your college career.
4. It’s okay to not know what you want to do
Freshman year is a confusing time – you’re getting used to living with complete strangers, you’re in charge of your schedule and the things you do, you are conflicted between doing homework and having fun, and sometimes you have absolutely no clue what you want to do with your life. Take me for example, I applied to UNH as a biology major, and halfway through my application process I frantically changed my major to Journalism. I still have no clue if I want to be a journalist or an English teacher, but it is completely okay to not know exactly what you want to do. Don’t be afraid to change course at any time during your college career; you will figure it all out in the end.
5. Get to know your professors
UNH professors are, without a doubt, some of the coolest people ever. We have professors from different countries who are fluent in many languages, professors who bring their dogs into your class just for fun, professors who play random instruments for your class, and most importantly professors who care. Get to know all of your professors and let them know more about who you are, too.
6. Call your parents
I know that many people think that they’re going to leave for college and not see or hear from their parents again until Thanksgiving, but you really are going to miss them and they will miss you too. It makes their day when you call them or send them a text just to know that you’re thinking about them and are doing well. And sometimes, all you need is just a quick phone call with your parents to reassure yourself that everything is going to be alright.
7. Go to class
It is so easy to just lay in bed in the morning and pretend like you “didn’t hear your alarm go off”, especially when you don’t have your mom yelling at you every two minutes until you wake up and go to class. Granted sometimes you just need a day off, but really try your hardest to go to your classes because you’re paying for all of your classes, even the ones you skip.
8. Be a friend
Get out there and be social, sit with someone who’s all alone in the dining hall, get to know the person next to you in your 200-person lecture hall. UNH has almost 15,000 students on their campus and I can guarantee that you can help at least one person per day, even if it’s just with a friendly smile or a short conversation in class. UNH becomes a second home when you move in and you should give everyone a chance.
9. Don’t procrastinate
It can be really easy to get caught up with homework and studying that it can be hard to focus on yourself too. I can’t count the number of times where I made myself sick because I spent so much time worrying about all the work I had to do, rather than taking it bit by bit and getting it all done in time. Although I love staying up until 3am talking with my roommates, it’s honestly the best feeling when you can get everything done so you can have time to go out and have fun later. Learn to get all of your work done bit by bit so you don’t stress yourself out even more at the end of the semester.
10. Go to all of the themed dinners
I don’t think you would be able to find a single person on this campus who would disagree when I say that UNH goes above and beyond with their themed dinners, especially at HoCo. Each section of the dining hall is decorated, the food is always named to fit the theme and all of the workers are extremely enthusiastic about the dinner and are often dressed up for the event. The themed dinners always give me something to look forward to and they never disappoint.
11. Appreciate the little things
Spit takes in the middle of the dining hall from laughing so hard, staying up until 3am having deep conversations with your roommate, pulling all-nighters on the weekend for absolutely no reason at all, waking up to a sticky note written on your desk from your roommate wishing you luck on your test, or even having your professor compliment you on how well you’ve been doing recently are all things that make the stressful days rewarding. Sure, you have plenty of big changes in your life while you’re in college, but it’s always the little things that help you along the way.
12. Be proud to be a Wildcat
When deciding on schools to apply to as a senior in high school, I knew I wanted to go to UNH, not just for the academics or the people, but because of the sense of pride everyone has for their school. Whether you’re at a hockey or football game or just walking through campus, the UNH Pride is electric. So many people, including myself, call UNH their second home, so show some extra pride in your school and make even more people want to be a part of Wildcat Country.
13. Take classes that challenge you
When students leave high school, they’re excited to leave behind the usual math, English, science, and history classes and begin to take courses that will actually interest them. Here at UNH, though, we have plenty of pre-requisites that everyone has to take in order to graduate. It can often be hard to cover your pre-reqs while still taking interesting classes, but it’s not impossible. For me, I decided to take Latin for my foreign language requirement and I can truthfully say that it was the most effort I have ever put into a class, but knowing that my hard work paid off when I got a good grade in the class was what made it all worthwhile. Take something that not only interests you, but also challenges you; we learn new things about ourselves when we’re challenged to do something that seems impossible.
14. Do what makes YOU happy
College is a time to figure out who you are and find the right path for yourself. With hundreds of opportunities to broaden your horizons and thousands of new people to meet, I can guarantee that you will find the perfect place for yourself and everything will figure itself out in the end. If you do not like to go out and party, or vice versa, you don’t have to do it. Don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to because college is meant to be a time for you to figure out who you are and what you want to do in life.
15. Take advantage of your time here
Senior year seems so far away when you’re just entering college, but in reality it’s closer than it feels. Before you know it you will be looking back on your past four years and those will be the times when you realize the things you should have done, wishing you could do it all over again. Make the best memories you can while you still have the time because before you know it you will be passing in your final exams and essays and putting on your cap and gown, looking back at all of the memories you have made during the past four years.
Congratulations, Class of 2015, and welcome to Wildcat Country, Class of 2019!