by Ashleigh Smith
Attention incoming freshmen:
Welcome to college, which as I am sure you are tired of hearing, are “the best four years of your life.” While it may be hard to believe that parents can know what they are talking about, they are right. As you walk around campus, through Decker, the new gym, or down by Alumni Hall, you’ll find that the students here at McDaniel can recall the best moments of their first year on the Hill, and their seasoned advice on how to make a freshman year (and many after) really count.
The two best things that ever happened to me in college I put off until my sophomore year, and if I could go back and have the choice, I would not have wasted my freshman year. The first best thing that can happen?you meet new friends, who will last for a lifetime; the second best?getting involved, in schoolwork (which can be fun, if you know which teachers to avoid) and in the McDaniel community. Join a club, try out for a show or a team, take a class just because you want to. Make your freshman year the start to an amazing college experience.
But don’t take it from me: just ask any of them.
Junior Kim Clemens says the best part of her freshman year was when she “joined a lot of different organizations on campus.”
“Even though I didn’t know many of the people in the clubs nor had a great interest in some of them, it gave me a chance to experience new things and make new friends,” adds Clemens.
McDaniel has over 100 organizations and clubs, according to the student handbook, and that number grows every year. We recently added the Frisbee club to our ranks, which has grown so popular that members now can live together in their own house.
Junior Kristen McGeeney notes that not only is getting involved a good way to get to know fellow students, it also provides experiences and opportunities you might not otherwise have available.
Students often help foster community service opportunities such as fundraisers or charity drives. Every year numerous clubs and organizations collaborate with the local community to put on the Relay for Life, to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Last year’s event raised over $34,500, which will go towards finding a cure.
Many student organizations also sponsor college events, parties or dances, such as the annual Black Student Union fashion show or the Greek Games. About 14 percent of our campus claims membership in one of the seven Greek organizations on campus.
Sophomore Allie Southwick, Junior Kate Goeddel, and Junior Casey Crough all place joining a sorority as one of the best things they did freshman year, though freshman are not allowed to participate in rounds until second semester.
“Best thing I could have done,” says Goeddel. “I met tons of new people and made great friends.”
Crough says, “Everyone seems so open and independent, and you really feel like you can be yourself and that people will respect that.”
Many students also pursue the arts in their spare time. Junior Fernando Gomes says that his best move freshman year was to join both College Choir and the Gospel Choir. “I thought I would give both a try,” says Gomes. “Since then, I haven’t regretted the decision, and I always enjoy singing with both awesome groups.”
The theatre department is always looking for recruits, whether they participate on stage or behind the scenes. “The best thing I did freshman year was get involved with the theatre department,” comments Senior Patrick Stinson, a biology major. “It’s a really welcoming program for new students, even if you don’t plan to major or anything.”
Crough was also active in the Hill’s presentation of Urinetown and A Christmas Carol.
For Senior Dan White, becoming active in Green Terror Sports was a memorable part of his freshman year. “Running cross country and track was a lot of fun,” says White, “and my best friends from McDaniel to this day are from the team. Plus I think that exercising is a great way to let of some of the stresses of college.”
The college also sponsors intramural sports every spring open to all students, and even if you choose not to play a sport (varsity or otherwise), games are a great place to hang out with friends and have a picnic.
An exchange student from China, Sophomore Fenghao Wang, says the best part of the first year was “the fact that I’ve survived it, got to know a lot of new friends and tried to understand a new culture.”
While upperclassmen are fond of their freshmen memories, some have their regrets, too. McGeeney says, “The worst thing I did was probably going home too often. I was the only one in my group of high school friends that really left the area for college, so I felt like I was missing out. I was really ultimately missing out on making new friends and trying new things.”
Getting to know fellow students is an important ingredient to enjoying your time here. “The worst part of the freshman experience was the sense of isolation at the beginning,” says Senior Adam Pritchard. “I was surrounded by people who, in retrospect, were just as alone as I was.”
As you get to know the class registration procedure, the importance of class choices becomes all to clear. Stinson notes that he regrets not focusing enough on his major. “I was pretty sure that I wanted to major in biology, but I didn’t take chemistry and I took one semester without any science at all,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with this, but in my particular case it’s constrained some of my choices later on.”
Many students also wish they had been better with their schoolwork. “Late-nighters can become very tiresome after a while,” notes Gomes.
Senior Alicia Ciatto says, “The worst thing I did was take on a 21 credit course load and got a job. It was way too overwhelming. College is enough of an adjustment without having to plan every moment of every day.”
So, the best way to make your freshman year great? don’t take on too much, leave room for plenty of socializing and for studying, but don’t be afraid to try new things.
Oh, and Junior Wyatt Baseley’s advice: “Laziness. Don’t let it get the best of you.”