What we wish we knew freshman year
Observer Editorial Board | Friday, September 8, 2023
Adjusting to college life in your first year can be difficult. There are so many new people to meet, new places to memorize and new schedules to adapt to. As upperclassmen, those of us on The Observer Editorial Board have had our fair share of trial-and-error during our time in South Bend.
Maggie Eastland, Editor-in-Chief
College is a time to learn how, but — perhaps more importantly — it should be a time to ask why. When you’re juggling so many different activities and passions, discernment can feel far off. Make time for it. And don’t just pose the question about your future career. Ask it about every part of your life here. The tri-campus has many opportunities for emotional, spiritual and personal formation. Don’t let those go to waste. Maybe even better than programming, talk about these deep questions with those around you.
Ryan Peters, Managing Editor
Don’t waste your time doing things just because you think they’ll look good on your resume. Most people have zero clue what they want to do with their lives when they first step foot on campus. Some leave campus not knowing what they want to do. That’s OK. Spend your time doing things you actually enjoy and find fulfillment in, regardless of your major. Don’t follow some cookie-cutter path because it’ll get you a high-paying job right out of college. The worst thing you can do is silo yourself off from discovering career opportunities you never anticipated having.
Gabrielle Beechert, Assistant Managing Editor
I know it sounds simple, but kindness goes a long way. Freshman year can be stressful and anxiety-inducing for so many reasons, and people are going to be mean. And yeah, it sucks. But not everyone has bad intentions. Maybe there was a miscommunication, or maybe someone had a bad day and they took it out on you. Sometimes people need a little grace, and everything else will work itself out. And don’t get me wrong — it’s still very important to stand up for yourself. You shouldn’t let people walk all over you. But don’t make enemies for no reason, or else you’re going to burn a lot of bridges by the time you get to senior year.
Hannah Hebda, Assistant Managing Editor
Take classes you are interested in, not just ones that are required or you think you should take. I spent so much time worrying about requirements instead of focusing on my own personal interests and discerning minors and such from those. You get more out of a class than what shows up on your transcript or in GPS. All in all, it’s OK to take electives and “fun” classes. They don’t have to count toward something on your transcript because they’ll count toward your growth as a person. And you are so much more than your GPA.
José Sánchez Córdova, Assistant Managing Editor
Find your comfort zone, and then learn when to ignore it. College is all about learning who you are. You need to take the time to understand yourself, know what you like, the types of people you want to spend time with and the ones you don’t. But it is also time to push boundaries and try new things. There are very few times in life where freedom and few responsibilities converge. These four years are exactly that. Take advantage of it. Do things for the plot. Learn to dance, take a trip on a whim, talk to that cute girl in your discussion section. When you walk on that stage at commencement you’ll look back on it and be glad you did.
Peter Breen, Interim News Editor
Don’t walk around campus looking down at your phone or with headphones in. Take courses that don’t require you to use a computer in the classroom. Show up to class early, and talk with your professor. Buy used books. Explore as many buildings on campus as possible throughout your four years. Resist the temptation to use an electric scooter. Spend as much time as possible near the lakes and in the common spaces of your dorm. Stay in contact with your freshman year Moreau professor. Eat at Rohr’s for free. If you feel that something is, which should not be, you can be the one to change it.
Meghan Lange, Saint Mary’s News Editor
Don’t be afraid to be the first, whether that be the first to speak in class, the first to join a club or the first to explore new interests. Often we don’t want to be the first person to speak in class because we’re concerned about what our classmates will think of our opinions. The same goes for being the first of your friend group to join a club or team that’s new or doesn’t fit in with your carefully-curated college persona. While growing up, we were constantly told that we shouldn’t care what others think of us. That’s a lot easier said than done. It’s OK to be conscious of others around you, but don’t let it stop you from trying those new things that could change you for the better. It’s OK to have a voice and to have different facets to your identity. It’s even better if you use that voice and show off the things that make you interesting.
Claire Lyons, Viewpoint Editor
Get a pair of noise-canceling headphones. If you’re anything like me, the slightest noise can spell disaster for a study session. Silence in college is a serious commodity. Even though you might be hesitant to splurge on a pair, the ability to study anywhere and anytime to the sound of blissful white noise is priceless. Trust me, once you buy them, you’ll wish you had them sooner.
Andrew McGuinness, Sports Editor
Anything you can do in college — and life, for that matter — will be better if you do it with other people. Being social isn’t just about football games and bars. Some of my most cherished moments over the last few years are little ones spent playing video games with friends in my dorm or chatting with someone over Starbucks or laughing in the basement of South Dining Hall during Observer shifts as opposed to working remotely.
Notre Dame’s setup with the dorm system and (in my experience) a fair share of smaller classes, fosters an environment where these moments thrive. But you still have to go make them yourself. I’m naturally a very shy person, so I understand it’s not easy for everyone. But it is possible for everyone. Trust me: It’s so worth it.
Anna Falk, Scene Editor
Taking time for self-care is of the utmost importance. We’re at Notre Dame — we’re bound to work hard and play hard. However, this can get quite taxing if you are continually overworking yourself. Recognizing when your body and your mind need a break is a useful skill you will use all throughout your adult life. Learn when to call it a night and go to bed. Take a night off every once in a while. If your friends invite you out, it’s OK to say “no” if you’re not feeling up to it. Missing out on a good time is not as important as your well-being.
Emma Duffy, Social Media Editor
The best way to stay on top of work is to do assignments the day they are assigned. Waiting for the day before it is due will just cause more stress. Things tend to pile up very quickly during the semester and it is very important to stay on top of everything assigned. The best way to do this is to start an assignment right after the class ends. It may be annoying to get straight to work after a long day of classes, but you will thank yourself for it later on. Time management is everything, and this approach really pays off in the long run!
Christina Sayut, Graphics Editor
It is so worth it to pursue your passions. There is no shame in changing majors to follow something that you really love and want to learn about. Suffering through classes that you don’t like just because you think it makes you look smarter is not the way to go. Take that leap of faith and register for a class that is just for fun — you may find that you were meant to be an art and design major instead of a neuroscience major.
Sofia CrimiVaroli, Photo Editor
What you may not realize as a freshman — what I definitely didn’t realize as a freshman — is that not all friendships are made to last. You may make some of the best friends you’ve ever had in your first few weeks, but sometimes those friendships fall apart. It has happened to literally everyone at college. Sometimes people just aren’t a good fit for each other. But, if someone you thought was your friend doesn’t respect you and doesn’t look out for you, they never deserved to be your friend. Don’t be discouraged when this happens. Be upset, buy some ice cream, learn from it and move on. Put yourself back out there, and you’ll find your people. I did, and I could not be happier with the amazing friends I have made here. I’m grateful for what I have learned from the not-so-good friends I made and lost. Remember — it was all for the character development.