After four years of Tufts, I was thinking back to my freshman fall semester and reflecting on how far my friends and I have come. I decided to write one of my last blog posts about wisdom I wish I had realized earlier in my freshman year. That being said, I am completely expecting you to make most of these mistakes anyway – and that is encouraged! I personally fell into all of them myself and many more. Is it still a college experience if it is straightforward or easy? Not really, and I don’t think you enrolled at Tufts because you expect it to be easy.
Trap: Sticking exclusively to your pre-orientation friends during orientation week.
Truth: It is comforting starting school with a couple friends, but you shouldn’t shut out other potential friends just because you found a couple people in the first week.
Trap: Thinking you're the only homesick one.
Truth: It is ok to miss being at home. You are not the only one.
Trap: Assuming your first friend is your best friend
Truth: It takes more than a month to develop good friendships, so don’t expect it immediately! The first couple weeks will be exciting and fun, but the true friendships take longer to work out. Side note: I am a terrible example of this because my first friend still is my best friend four years later.
Trap: Saying yes to every commitment
Truth: I’m sure you were very involved in something in high school, and you aren’t used to saying no. Tbh, I still struggle with this and I end up over-working myself. I wish I was more careful deciding on commitments but I figured it out eventually. There is a balance too because you definitely shouldn't say "no" to everything either.
Trap: Expecting college to be easier than it is
Truth: Tufts is as challenging as you make it, and you would be missing out by just taking the easy route. No matter how hard or easy high school was, the amount of independence and the amount of options you have in college is something that you need to adjust to.
Trap: Choosing an extracurricular purely because the name sounds cool
Truth: A lot of the Tufts social life comes from extracurricular groups, and I would encourage you to go to all the General Interest Meetings (GIMs) to learn more about the community. There are intramural sports teams, cultural clubs, pre-professional clubs (SWE!!!), performance groups, work-studies, and many more. These groups spend so much time together and I highly recommend going for a group that also gets together outside regular meeting times because that is a perfect starting place to make friends. Don’t forget to look beyond the name! I was initially intimidated by SWE, and didn’t join until the end of my sophomore year and that was a big mistake.
Trap: A Cappella is the center of all social scenes
Truth: A Cappella is EVERYWHERE during orientation, but only active if you go to their concerts (or if you join an a cappella group)
Trap: Eating everything in sight because you have an unlimited meal plan
Truth: I used my meal plan to procrastinate homework and catch up with friends in the dining hall, but I would frequently stay way too long so I needed to learn about portion sizes. For example, don’t eat a whole roll of Nutter Butters from Hodgdon before going to Fondue Night in Carm (oops)
Trap: Forgetting that Ex College courses exist
Truth: Take an Ex College class
That is my list, but I decided to ask some friends what they would tell incoming Jumbos. Here is what they said:
“Don’t get so caught up in your math homework that you miss your first chem lab” – Katherine
“Don’t eat the pudding at Dewick” – Sylvia
"Take advantage of the unlimited meal plan while you have it." - Meredith
“Don’t expect every friendship to be the greatest friendship ever, the real ones take longer” – Lindsay
“Don’t put laundry detergent in the dryer” – Brian
"Do something because it makes you happy not because you think it will impress people." - Meredith
“Check out the Lilly Music Library” – Sylvia
“Don’t compare your college experience to people’s Facebook college experiences” – Katherine
“Don’t sit on the cannon because you will get red paint all over your favorite leggings” – Linds
“You can do anything you want but not necessarily everything. Don't take on too much too soon” – Lauren
"Talk to people who might seem different than the people you talked to in high school. You'll be surprised at what you learn and that person could turn out to be a good friend." - Meredith
“You are not your freshman year GPA” – Jessica