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Defining your time here

Sam Werner | Saturday, August 21, 2010

About four years ago, when I was on one of my many college visits before my senior year of high school, I saw a mother helping her daughter move into her apartment. I overheard the mother say something like, “I can’t believe this is the last time I’m going to help you move into college.”
As I walked by, trying to forget everything the ultra-perky tour guide had just told us, the thought that I could someday be moving into college for the last time seemed totally incomprehensible. It was just something that was never going to happen to me.
In a related story, I moved into college for the last time this week. Funny how things like that work.
The point of that story is something that will be repeated to you freshmen about 3.2 million times over the next week or so: These next four years will go by faster than you could ever imagine.
Apparently, just because I signed up for The Observer at activities night three years ago means I’m qualified to give advice to the entire freshman class. I don’t really have anything groundbreaking to give you, but I’ll do my best to try and say something you haven’t heard before.
The best piece of guidance I can give you is to try and find your niche. Maybe your thing is student government, maybe it’s writing for the newspaper (we’d love that). Whatever you enjoy doing, do it.
As a former — and current — sports writer, I would be neglectful if I didn’t at least mention football. As you may have heard, Notre Dame has a fairly well known football team.
Even if you’re not really a huge sports fan, football games will at least in some way define your time here. As the past three years have taught me, you don’t need to actually win many games to make them memorable. Home games in the Notre Dame student section are really an incredible experience, and it’s tough coming to grips with the fact that I only have seven left.
Probably the best advice I ever got my freshman year was as follows: at some point this semester, you’re going to be overloaded with work and plan to do some before a football game one Saturday. This is a mistake. It takes virtually superhuman abilities to do work on a football Saturday, and planning to do so will only set you further behind.
People are going to tell you tons of ways to be successful academically at Notre Dame. But, honestly, if you were smart enough to get in here, you’re probably smart enough to navigate these waters by yourself.
The one thing I will recommend in this field is to get to know your professors. Almost all of them have done something incredible in their lives to put them in the position to teach at Notre Dame. They will be invaluable contacts once you enter the real world. Even if you don’t need them in that regard, most of them just have really good stories to tell.
Your four years here will go by faster than any four years in your life. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but one day you’ll wonder where the time went as you move into college for the last time.

Sam Werner is a senior American Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He was also pursuing a pre-med major until this year, when he
decided that a future in journalism is much more secure than a career in medicine. He can be contacted at swerner@nd.edu
The views expressed in this
column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.