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6 Tips to a Successful Freshman Year

Syllabus week has come to an unfortunate end. College is upon us, and hundreds of readings sit in our newly decorated dorm rooms. All of you overwhelmed college freshmen who have just finished your first week at Denison: you are not alone. Coming to college for the first time is a chance for a new slate, and an opportunity to be whoever you want to be. So I have compiled a list of suggestions to help you balance these new aspects in your life.

1. Do Homework on Saturdays
I know, it’s awful. It seems like you could be doing better things! Anything from watching the Parent Trap in the common room, reminiscing about last night’s party or even painting your toenails. There’s no need to finish your homework on Friday after class (in my experience, that is just not realistic.) Saturday is a great study day, since you have all day to be productive before you go out. Just do it. You’ll be so happy you did. And you won’t have to spend all night at a party stressing about that 10-page paper due Monday.

2. Overcome Your “Fear of Missing Out”
Freshman year, everything seems important. The smallest activities, like chatting with your roommate or playing frisbee on the commons all seem to be crucial. When the music starts pounding during the week, you can easily be tempted to go out. I promise, you are not missing out on as much as you think you are! Do not be afraid to be productive, and have fun later. You have all year with these people.

3. Don’t Sign up for too Many Activities
It’s a good idea to sign up for activities in order to meet new people and find your niche at Denison. The activity fair has so many options, hundreds of options! The best advice would be to not pick all of them. Start with a few activities, and make sure that you are able to balance your schoolwork too. That is what you came here to do, and you don’t want your grades to suffer at the expense of a club sport or volunteering gig. The workload is bigger in college than high school, and it takes a little while to develop the skills to juggle everything.

4. Don’t Procrastinate
This is self-explanatory, and hard to avoid. Getting off Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and opening you textbook can parallel beating Russia in gymnastics at the summer Olympics, but as fab five showed us so spectacularly this year, it is possible. Start early, when you have the time.

5. Use the library
Don’t study in your dorm room. Someone could walk in at any moment with a better offer, a bit of gossip, or an invitation. Furthermore, if you are anything like me, you will decide to do your laundry, color-code your closet, and Windex your mirror before resorting to writing that paper. Going to the library offers an environment where you can be inspired to work. I highly recommend the 5th and 6th floors of the Denison library, which are quiet floors.

6. Schedule Free Time
You are constantly surrounded by people during the first week of school, and finding time to yourself to preserve your mental health is of utmost importance. Alone time will help you manage your tasks, stay positive, and will give you an emotional outlet for when you simply cannot handle being around people anymore. Take an hour or two between classes to listen to your own music, read a book or take a nap.

Following these tips will help you to enjoy your Denison experience while (hopefully) preserving your sense of sanity. It may seem tedious now, but you will learn to balance friends, homework, extracurricular activities and whatever else you decide matters to you. So now that I’ve finished procrastinating, I should get back to my homework. Oh look, my roommate just tagged me on Instagram…

sophomore at Denison University
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