Two Saturdays from now will mark the third high school graduation I have attended as a teacher. It will also mark 11 years since I walked across the same stage. That’s right: I now teach at my alma mater. As a teacher of seniors, some of whom take AP Economics for a year and some who take Economics for a semester, I get to dispense lots of wisdom. Most of it is met with eye rolls, but hopefully my advice for building a freshman foundation at college sticks through until August, when many of my current students are arriving at their dorms.
First, a solid “freshman foundation” means getting involved on campus. Yes, it’s the same advice given by your dorky parents and your dorky college adviser…and it’s absolutely correct. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten more involved on campus. Aside from making new friends with common interests, joining campus groups and sticking with them will be a tremendous benefit when you near graduation and start looking for jobs. Trust me. A 4.0 GPA may not impress hiring managers nearly as much as proof of leadership and organizational capability.
Secondly, a freshman foundation means hitting the books and avoiding the party scene. There is plenty of time for partying later on, after you have developed the habits of proper time management and self-discipline. Nerd up that first year. Make nerd friends. Those who cut loose too early are the ones who flunk out, never having developed the study skills they need to turn it around even when they want to. It’s much better to start college on the right foot than try to dig yourself out of a hole as an incoming sophomore on academic probation.
Third, improve your freshman foundation by avoiding the freshman fifteen. Eat right and go to the gym. Most campuses are well-known for having great gyms and student rec centers, so get your money’s worth. Plus, nerding up and working on your fitness as a freshman, avoiding the party scene, will make you more attractive later on as a smarter, more sculpted sophomore. As a former college freshman, I remember how all-you-can-eat dining centers can turn former high school athletes into schlubby has-beens within a year. Don’t go overboard!
Get involved, hang with the nerds, and work on your fitness to build a lasting freshman foundation that will serve you well throughout college.