20 Pieces of Advice from a Skidmore Senior to Freshmen
1. Give it time
It will be hard at first. Moving away is never easy, and the first few days, even the first weeks or months, will feel quite confusing. You will have a new sense of yourself and of what home means to you, but that is okay. The best thing you can do is not give up yet. Let yourself settle in.
2. Be vulnerable
You do not have to be who you were in high school (even if you were the bee’s knees). Do not limit yourself to who you think you should be, who your parents want you to be, or what your friends think. We are all allowed to change and we are also allowed to not know who we are. Allow yourself to open up to strangers because maybe they could become your closest friends (especially at a small, close-knit school like Skidmore). Turns out, people really like it when you let your guard down.
3. Join clubs
I know the club fair is daunting and everyone is yelling at you to join this or that, but trust me, if you even have a tiny desire to join Quidditch or write for Folio, then you should go for it. It does not mean you have to commit all your time to it, just attend one meeting and see how you feel. You never know what will stick in the end (for example, I never thought I would be on a Frisbee team, and now here I am. Things happen).
4. …But not too many
I am talking to you, overachievers. It is not bad to enjoy participating in a lot of things, but speaking from experience, it is also good to limit yourself. When you sign up for too much, it becomes hard to enjoy what you are doing since you are struggling to juggle your many roles.
5. Take a class that sounds cool for no reason other than that
College is not just about sticking to one academic path. Take a peek at all the courses offered before creating one set schedule. Sometimes, an unexpected, interesting course will change your life (and sometimes it will not). It is worth a shot!
6. Be nice to everyone
This one is important. Skidmore is a small school and, in my experience, everyone is very kind to each other. It is a happy campus. You do not want to make enemies, especially not early on. I can guarantee that you will run into them a lot. Also, it is nice to see smiling, familiar faces in your classes.
7. Go to lectures on campus
Take advantage of what this school offers us (besides the degree at the end). There are many free lectures that you can attend. Even when you feel tired and it is cold out, get yourself to go. I have enjoyed many interesting (and free!) talks with fascinating (and sometimes famous) speakers.
8. Try the free exercise classes
The gym and the Wilson Chapel offer many free exercise classes, from yoga to zumba. Even though I have no dancing ability, I had a lot of fun at zumba without spending any money. We are lucky for this.
9. Use the Career Development Center (CDC)
The CDC is extremely helpful when you are in a crisis mode about future careers, summer opportunities, or just the standard question of “What do I do with my life?” It seems scary at first but once you get there, they immediately make you feel better and give great advice.
10. Be outside while you can
Saratoga Springs is beautiful, especially in the summer, but the winters are rough. Be outside as much as you can while the weather is nice because soon you will inevitably be hibernating.
11. Embrace big changes
Trust me, you will experience many changes in your life while in college, from friend groups to your expected major, to even your own sense of self. There will be times when you rewrite who you are and who you want to be (over and over). Try not to feel overwhelmed by this, but instead, enjoy the process. You will figure it out eventually.
12. Do not order Pizza 7 or Esperanto’s every night
I know the doughboys are perfection at only $3.50 each but you and your wallet will get sick of them if ordered too often. Try to space it out (but I understand, it is hard).
13. Go abroad
Once you get comfortable on campus, it is hard to get yourself to go abroad for a whole semester. If that is the case, you can always go abroad during the summer (like I did). Do not hesitate with this because the abroad experience is truly unforgettable and you will likely not regret it. It is important to be aware of other cultures besides your own.
14. Get embarrassed
Mess up. Make a fool of yourself. It is freeing. Do not conform!
You will cherish your sleep. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night because otherwise, you will feel delusional by the end of the week. Sleep is important.
16. You do not need to go to the party
We all experience FOMO (fear of missing out), but you do not have to go to every party there is. It is not worth it. Sometimes you need a break. Relaxing nights with friends or with your favorite television show is necessary for your own sanity.
17. Find your inner nerd
Figure out what department makes your stomach turn in excitement, whether it is the meta questions in your anthropology class or the literary geniuses debated in your English courses. Find what drives you academically and pursue it all four years, even if you do not see yourself in that field professionally.
18. Check your privilege
This goes beyond college advice. It is life advice. Everyone must check their privilege. We are lucky to attend Skidmore College, to be getting an education, to be free humans, able to make our own decisions. Acknowledging our privileges is the first step to being a good person.
19. Bug your professors
We go to a small, liberal arts school that allows us to take classes of only ten people at time. Our professors will know us and keep track of us. You will be heard by them. Make sure that they hear you. They are wonderful resources.
20. Do something everyday that scares you
Do not hold back! As Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently said and President, Philip Glotzbach, echoed at this year’s opening convocation, do “something everyday that scares you.” Take chances, sign up for things, talk to your professors and fellow students, and be open to new experiences. Besides the education, that is what college is all about!