Written by Beth Ortwerth
Dear ladies of ‘24, Welcome to this little block of land in KC we call home. Over the next 4 years, you will grow to love the buildings and places that sit between 52nd, 54th, Troost and Paseo. Never miss a chance to appreciate the beauty of our campus year round(even if virtual learning has RUINED future snow day sledding next to the belltower). And never miss a chance to love the people you encounter because(luckily), Rockhurst is different than the big schools you probably have friends going to. Instead of classes of 500, you will have classes of max 30 and instead of not knowing your professor at all, you might find yourself getting lunch with them once a month . You probably won’t have to worry about not making friends with anyone because meeting everyone will be easier. Your class(2024) will go from strangers to family in a very short time. The tight-knit community we have here is a remarkable and rare thing; You are genuinely never more than 10 feet from someone who cares about you.
Despite how tight-knit Rockhurst is compared to other universities, freshman year can still be hard for a number of reasons. This is your first time on your own and trusted to make real adult decisions(SCARY!). From the moment you say goodbye to your parents and they drive away life is different. You are left with a decorated dorm room, a girl you hardly know as your roommate, the fear of going to the caf for the first time, and how to maneuver the communal shower situation.
But don’t stress too much. We(the ladies of ‘21) have been exactly where you are...but literally, one of you might be living in my old dorm room(McGee 411 for the wiiiinnnnnn!), and we know how you feel. So to help you I have compiled a list of advice my fellow 21’s and I wish we had gotten as freshmen. Here it goes:
- If the caf ever becomes self serve again then make sure you get the waffles with ice cream on them for breakfast at least once. Life is too short not to eat dessert for breakfast.
- The last stalls for the showers in the dorms are always and will always be superior.
- Don’t be scared to knock on your neighbors’ door if you need to borrow something even as small as a Bobby pin. Everyone else is in the same boat as you and will 99% of the time be so willing to help you.
- Don’t be scared of the upperclassmen. I swear we don’t bite.
- Don’t miss Wednesday morning pancakes in the caf from open-10am!
- Join anything you are interested in, but don’t stretch yourself thin! You have 4 years to do everything you want to take advantage of new opportunities, and joining a club or rushing a sorority as a sophomore, junior or even senior is totally normal!
- Take time to call the people who love you. Whether it’s your parents, siblings, best friends from high school, or whoever. Just call them. Life is too short to forget.
- Seriously don’t be the person to set the fire alarm off at 3 a.m.
- Don’t stress if you don’t find a friend group of 20 girls who are all super duper close right away...or ever. Just because you have a smaller friend group or one close pal(whether at RU or at home) does not mean you are a flop or a loser in any way.
- Don’t worry about comparing your college experience to your friends at other schools, big or small. Rockhurst is a unique community and family that none of my friends understand. Treasure the bond you have with your classmates and teachers and appreciate how special it is!
- Go to everything that interests you, and maybe some that are out of your comfort zone! As a girl with some serious social anxiety, I understand how hard it is, but if I hadn’t pushed myself I would never have met some of my best friends.
- Make a schedule and stick to it. Having a set plan and goal for your day/week/semester and having basic things you need to complete will help you stay sane.
- Don’t feel bad if you are overwhelmed and need a break. You are human. We all need to sleep, cry, eat, laugh, and have random dance parties to get out energy.
- ASK FOR HELP!!!! All of us want you to succeed. If you need an extension on a paper or assignment, ask your professor days in advance and they will probably say yes or offer helpful advice on how to complete it. If you need help studying go to the learning center(THEY ARE AMAZING!) or ask a friend to help quiz you. Most of the time friends will be relieved you asked for help because they will need help too!
- Who you were in high school/at home does not have to be who you are now. Don’t force yourself to be a whole new person, but don’t worry about keeping face if you were known for one thing or another. Just because your fashion or hobbies were one thing doesn’t mean they have be the same now.
- LEARN TO SAY “NO” AND NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT IT!!!!!!
- Yes, it is worth it to get late-night Andy’s, Winstead’s, or whatever else you are second-guessing yourself on. Unless it’s a boy with bad intentions. Stay away from him. That’s not worth it.
- Peer pressure is real. Even if it is indirect. Just because your friends are having big life milestones like new nose piercings, getting into super committed relationships, or even losing their virginity does not mean you have to, too. You are your own beautiful, amazing person and no one will fault you for owning that.
- Don’t be scared of the “fun fact question”. Everyone has a weird one even if they choose not to share it. Mine is that I was my high school mascot and at first it felt weird owning it but now it’s one of my favorite bragging points. This question and how brave you are with answering it is a great way for you to show you are open to new things with your classes and new friendships!
- Don’t forget to stop, sit in a hammock with yourself, or a group of friends, and just breathe. Appreciate the little things and small moments. I promise it is worth it.
I’m sure I could go on with this list for way longer, and this is definitely not the end all be all for advice on freshman year, but this is a good start. Just remember to be kind and open. Life is changing for everyone, and no matter what year of college it is, we are all just as nervous as you to grow up. And oh, how excited I am to watch you grow up. We all are! I am so honored already to get to share my home with such an empowered, strong, beautiful group of women like you.
All the best of luck! With love, Beth O. And the ladies of ‘21♥️