Advice For First Years

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Ah, your first year. So many memories, so many mistakes. It’s normal to take a few (or more than a few) L’s during your first year on campus, but my job here with this article is to minimize that. Here are my top ten pieces of advice for first-years at Yale. You can thank me later!

1) You don’t need to go to every single Woads.

I don't even mean it in a "who-cares-just-live-your-life" way, but from a completely objective point of view. Literally every single Woads is the same. Every. Single. One. They even play the same songs. Save yourself some money (and your GPA) by not going out every Wednesday night — I promise you’re not missing much. The professor from your 9am class will also really appreciate it. 

2) Avoid doing the walk of shame from the other side of campus.

This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s not fun! It’s especially not fun when you’re trudging along and approach Cross Campus and there are about 300 people in athletic gear who have just finished a half-marathon. Parents. Children. Golden Retrievers. They will all be staring at you limping back to Old Campus with smudged eyeliner wearing nothing but an oversized t-shirt. They're not kidding about the name...it feels pretty shameful.

3) Try studying somewhere other than Bass.

For some reason, Bass seems to be first-year central, which is fun because you get to see your friends. However, it can also keep you from being productive because if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend three hours whispering with your friends on the lower level instead of getting work done. I promise you that it is so worth it to explore around campus and find other places to study. Try Starr or one of the other reading rooms in Sterling, or if you really like being alone, you can go up to the stacks. There are so many libraries on campus — some people even like going to coffee shops to study, like Blue State (the one on Wall Street is my personal favorite) or Koffee if you’re close to Science Hill. And of course, there are always the common room and library in your residential college.

4) Make friends with anyone and everyone.

The worst thing you can do during your first year (or just in life in general) is to stick with one group of friends and be like, “Okay, I’m done. I have my squad.” There are exceptions, but most people don’t end the year with the exact same friends they started with. And that’s okay. Don’t expect to have found your besties after one month of school or four months or even by the end of your first year! I did not become close with the people who have become my best friends until after spring break last year. Much of my first year at Yale was lonely and confusing, but that’s part of the journey. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. The best thing you can do is to be open to new friendships.

5) Limit your extracurricular activities.

This might sound odd, but hear me out. Last year I was part of so many extracurriculars that I barely had the time to really focus on and be engaged in my class material. I got through my classes, but I didn't feel like I got much out of most of them at the end of the year. Stick to the organizations and clubs that you’re really passionate about. This isn’t high school; no one cares about how many extracurriculars you’re a part of. Do what you want to do, but remember that you’re at Yale to learn and go to class. And also darties.

6) Be a good suitemate.

You might not be best friends with all of your suitemates, but you should make an effort to get to know each one of them. Living with someone for an entire year means that you should have each other’s backs and care for one another. And please contribute to the upkeep of the suite! You don’t want to be that suitemate. You know, the one who leaves messes for others to clean up and doesn’t help out? If you puke in your suite’s toilet at 3 in the morning the night before Spring Fling, make sure to make it up to your suitemates. Possibly with extra flash tats.

7) Wear fleece-lined tights under your pants in winter.

That’s it. Just do it. It’ll change your life.

8) Don’t assume that you can, or should, do everything on your computer.

A lot of first years get super juiced about being in college because now you can’t get yelled at for using your laptop in class. However, people seriously underestimate how important actually writing things down can be. In my experience, it’s always better to take notes by hand in class or in lecture than follow along online… and respond to your friend’s iMessage… and check Facebook… it’s just too tempting! Some things, like essays and problem sets, are for the laptop. Others are not. It’s best to achieve a balance that works for you.

9) Go to suite pregames and parties.

This is mostly for those of you who live on Old Campus, but if you can, make the trek from Murray or TD or wherever you live. This is a unique part of the party scene that mostly exists first semester of your first year, because after second semester people have joined frats and sororities and go to mixers instead. There’s something really dope about being able to party with just people your own age in someone’s suite with people from every single residential college. It’s probably one of the best ways to meet tons of people. Of course, upperclassmen still have suite parties once they move into their colleges, but it’s just not the same...

10) Take time for yourself.

This one’s really important. Your first year is so overwhelming and there’s so much to do. You’ll be tempted to do everything — but that’s impossible because there are only 24 hours in a day and only one of you and you should actually get rest because you’re a functioning person. Don’t be afraid to say “no” sometimes. I’m not talking about the obvious, like say-no-to-drugs-stuff, but to other things: parties, excursions to East Rock, hangout sessions. It’s okay not to be social all the time. Make sure to stop and breathe every once in a while.

Good luck, 2021. And try not to take too many L’s.

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Yale 2020