Student Life

First-Year Reflections: How to Make Next Year Even Better

Maya Moritz

May 10, 2016

First-Year Reflections: How to Make Next Year Even Better
As you reflect upon your first year in college, work to recognize how you can improve in order to achieve success next year.
So you’ve survived your orientation week, two or three semesters of essays, lectures, and assignments and lived to tell the tale. What now? Second year will have some big decisions in store. Who will you live with? What classes will you take? What will you do to fill your CV?

Your Living Situation

Start by undertaking the arduous task of looking at your grades. How did you do? If you fell a bit short of your goals, think of what could be the problem. Was it your distance from the library? Maybe it was your loud roommate. These questions are important when considering where to live. Sure, living above the local 3 a.m. fast food spot could be fun and convenient, but think about the noise and the distractions.
On the other hand, living too far away could mean you’ll find it difficult to find the energy to see your friends or go to class. Think of your schedule, the transportation available to you, and your budget. Sometimes you really don’t have a choice. In that situation, make resolutions. If you’re too far to easily visit friends, make sure to venture onto campus at least once a week outside of class. One idea is to walk. If you force yourself to walk to your far-away class, you’ll dread the trek back and end up studying or meeting friends in town instead of watching TV at home.
Also, be honest about your roommates. However close you may be, if they make too much noise or are too dramatic to allow for a calm and stable studying and living environment, living with an acquaintance may be the best call.
If you don’t trust yourself to say no to your friends, tell your parents the truth about your situation. They’ll probably force you to find a better roommate.

Your Classes

Forget the end goal and think about your passions. Though a physics degree is admirable, if you dislike all your courses, it’s time to change now rather than later. The later you change your mind, the more you’ll have to catch up on. If you look ahead to your senior courses and feel no excitement, this may be your last chance to try something better. As a sophomore, you’ll likely have more choice in your courses. Don’t just choose an interesting courses title- research the professor, ask older students, look at the syllabus, and contact the professor if you’re really undecided. Tell your advisor anything you may be considering. They know the course list and may be able to point you to something you’ve never thought about. Most of all, don’t take classes just to be with friends. Go make new acquaintances and focus on what you want to study and learn.

Your Extracurriculars

Many students join so many clubs in first year that they don’t end up participating in a single one. Make second year different. Start with one club that you enjoyed last year or people have recommended and vow to get involved. Maybe make this one a club that will help make connections within your major or field. See if any of the athletic clubs are worth the money. Join one and decide how many classes or practices to attend per week in order to keep active. Ask a friend to join as well for added motivation. Obviously, feel free to attend any other club activities that seem interesting. If you have time, indulge in whatever club is fun and welcoming, even if it appears to have no benefit for your career or academic studies. Remember that accepting a position in a club means that you should give that club everything you have. They elected you, so you should go to the meetings you agreed to attend and take initiative. You can always quit at the end of the year.

Focus on You

In sophomore year, you’ll have more on your plate. Remember to monitor your own stress and wellbeing. Remove toxic relationships. In your new living situation, decide to share space with people who support and help you. Let go of pre-conceptions about what you should have achieved by now. If you’re too busy to date, then that’s fine. If you had no internship last year, apply this year. Run for the committee positions you were too shy to run for last year. Take an acquaintance for coffee to become better friends. Ask a professor if they know of any research opportunities. Use everything you learned this year to make sophomore year that much better.

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