To all the new freshman: Welcome to LMU! School has been in full swing for about four weeks now here on the Bluff…is it what you expected so far? As a senior at LMU, I’ll be honest and say that I have come a long way from who I was freshman year (I’m sure all upperclassman feel the same). Although I’m glad I blossomed into a totally extroverted, go-getter, college girl, I truly wish I had taken advantage of what this university, and the greater Los Angeles area, had to offer me sooner (yay for being an introverted late-bloomer!).
Freshman year is the time to jump out of your comfort zone and into everything you have always dreamed of trying. Don’t use the excuse, “I always have tomorrow” or “I could do it next time/month/year” (see what I mean?). It’s true what they say: college goes by fast! Way faster than high school. So here are my top ten realistic tips I have to help you out, tips I wish I had when I was a little freshie myself.
Tip 1: Remember: Everyone Else Is Just As Nervous
Even if they don’t come off that way – I know this sounds like some cliche mom advice, but really – everyone is transitioning into this new environment, facing new challenges, and dealing with what it’s like to be far away from home and family. I met people my first year who were so homesick and cried a lot, but I also met people who were relieved to be away from their hometown or families. But even those that supposedly “hated” where they were from also had to learn to acclimate to the new environment. No one has everything all figured out. It’ll be tough at times, but reach out to peers and new friends and just don’t be afraid to talk about it. Some of the best deep talks and bonding experiences I had were when I was just sitting in my dorm with seven other girls at 2 a.m. talking about life and how we felt about school. It always feels better when you see that you’re not alone and other people around you are going through the same thing.
Tip 2: Go to the ASLMU Events and Watch Some Sports!
Fallapalooza. Image from LMU Loyolan, image by Leslie Irwin
The events I went to freshman year made for some amazing memories. There are events in the dorms put on by RA’s, or ASLMU events like tie-dying, concerts, free massages, lawn game nights, puppy pens, etc. I met some really fun people making tie-dye shirts (I still have mine), playing cornhole, and planting succulents. No matter what the event, it was always a good time! You never know what new friends you’ll meet, which cute guy or girl may flirt with you, or what free food will be there. All of our LMU sporting events are also fun to go to, even if you don’t really like sports (there’s usually free LMU gear thrown out!). I really wish I went to games my first year. Seriously, go. And you better be at Fallapalooza on September 29th! You do NOT want to miss it.
Tip 3: Don’t Stay In Your Room All the Time.
I made this mistake too many times (mostly because I was learning how to deal with the transition). I actually don’t mind being alone and cozy in my room, but there’s only so much you can binge-watch or scroll through before things get a little repetitive. Even if you and your roommates are staying in together, rally each other! Don’t let FOMO pressure you, but remember there’s so much more that you can do outside your dorm room. Go on walks around campus, bike in Santa Monica, check out the bluff, visit The Getty museum, go swimming, have a beach bonfire, head down to Playa Vista, or go see a movie. You’re in Los Angeles, take advantage of it! Be a tourist (even if you’re from here). Never be afraid to sit or walk alone somewhere. Your cozy room will always be there for you, so make sure you take advantage of the space outside of it, and I guarantee you will have the best adventures.
Tip 4: Join A Club/Sorority/Professional Society.
Throughout my freshman year, I signed up for maybe seven clubs? I seriously thought I would go to three. But lo and behold, I went to none of them. I convinced myself that I wouldn’t have time and I’d be too focused on classes (which I was but I definitely could have carved out extra time). Don’t make my mistake! Even though Club EXP fest is over, you can still join plenty of groups! Formal recruitment for sororities doesn’t even start until spring, so you have time to think things over and focus on school. Clubs, sororities, and professional societies are some of the fastest ways to meet new people and make friends while also doing something you enjoy (while also adding it to your resume!). I joined the sports marketing internship group on campus my sophomore year and the English Honors Society my junior year. Just this year, I joined Her Campus! It’s never too late.
Tip 5: Actually Go to Office Hours.
I hope when your professors gave you the syllabus during the first week of school that you highlighted their office hours. Now the next step is to actually go. If you’ve already gone, pat yourself on the back! I’ve been a number of times, but I seriously should have gone so much more – meeting with your professors will help a lot with your grades. It could become the difference between a B+ or an A-. Definitely build a rapport with your professors, even if they’re a little intimidating. If they see you care, they will definitely care about your learning, too. You’ll stand out. They can help with assignments, and if you build a lasting relationship with them, they may be able to help you with networking. They can help you apply for internships, write you letters of recommendation, and they’ll give meaningful advice and mentorship (which all college students need!).
Tip 6: If Its Toxic: Leave. (Easier said than done).
I feel like I could write a whole article just on this one tip, but I’ll try to keep it short. This is definitely one of the most important things to keep in mind, and once you’re a senior you’ll look back and see what I mean. If it’s toxic, if you feel pressured, can’t be your true self, feel like you have to do things you aren’t sure you want to do, aren’t happy, or don’t feel like you can share your opinions: leave. It’s something you feel in your gut. This can apply to a particular friend group, friendship, significant other, or even when you’re at a party and just get a weird feeling. That’s so much easier said than done, I would know…I waited two YEARS to distance myself from a situation. It’s hard to know you’re in it when you’re in it, but if you listen to your gut and feel that something is off, reach out to those you truly trust, especially your family, and get some advice on how to deal with things. As a senior, I’d say about 75% of the people I know no longer hang out with their original friend group or have experienced being in toxic friendships and/or relationships. You’ll learn that boys still really haven’t grown up, even though they’re in college, and that some people need to learn to get over themselves. It can be tough, but just remember to always listen to your gut. You’re talented and deserve all the happiness you can get. Don’t let anyone hold you back. Please, don’t be afraid to ask for help from RAs, your trusted friends, and most of all your loved ones. So many people are willing to listen, give advice, and help you. You are never alone!
Tip 7: Go to parties! (But with people you can actually be yourself with)
There have been way too many times I’ve gone to a party and seen the entire room of mostly underclassmen just standing there…talking, glancing around nervously, waiting to dance even when good songs were playing. Don’t do that. I’m proud to say that at every party we witnessed starting like that, my friends and I were the first ones to get the room dancing. We wanted to dance, so we danced. Wildly. Who cares if you’re the only ones going crazy, everyone else will join later! People want to dance and have a good time – and it’s fun being the ones to start that. If the party has a dull vibe, then make it freakin’ fun! My freshman year party experience was like a movie, and that’s because my friends and I partied responsibly and quickly learned to not care what other people thought of us. Also, you don’t have to be drinking to have fun! However, if you choose to drink, keep track of how much you have and know your limit. Keep in mind that one more drink (or sip) may be the wrong choice.
Tip 8: Make It A Habit to Write To-Do Lists & Goals
Getting in the habit of making a to-do list DAILY is so, so helpful. I really wish I had started this during freshman year. Keeping track of your tasks in a planner, journal, or even on a whiteboard will really help your organizational skills, and keep you from getting too stressed! After reading this article, I encourage you to immediately start writing down both your daily and weekly tasks. This way you can be proactive, not miss homework, and get that amazing feeling after you cross things off!
Tip 9: Call Home
Make sure you call home. This one might seem obvious, but it’s easy to fall into your busy routine and leave those you left at home on hold for a bit. Some of my friends are really good about this – calling once a day or once a week consistently. I was not so good at it, despite missing my family so much. Just set a few minutes aside, even if you’re busy, to call and say hello! Your parents really do miss you a lot.
Tip 10: Focus on YOU!
This is probably the most important tip. Make sure you always focus on you. “Treat yo self” as they say. Don’t watch a show and call that self-care. I keep hearing that advice from so many people and I agree with them: it doesn’t give you the same rewarding emotions as something creative you like to do, like hiking, working out, reading that book you always wanted to read, etc. Don’t do or be around something that your heart isn’t fully committed to. That includes people. College is a time for incredible growth and change, but also a time to be as committed to yourself as you can. Learn to enjoy being around yourself if you don’t already. It will help with your mental health and also figuring out what you want in a career, life, a partner, and what kind of friends you want to surround yourself with.