For the summer, I have opted to continue my blog as a series of posts geared towards freshmen, but also for students who might relate or might just be looking for a way to rediscover UTD. The series, titled 10 for 10 will be 10 posts about various topics ranging from this one, my regrets from freshman year, to more practical things such as ways to organize your desk.
1. Not fully participating in freshman year activities
In addition to freshman orientation, UTD has Comet Camp, an optional camp for incomings students to meet other freshmen and develop bonds. While I didn’t attend UTD as an undergrad, Baylor had a similar camp full of activities to help students get to know one another. If you can go to Comet Camp, do it. The first day at a new school is always a little more bearable if you know that you have at least a few familiar faces on campus. In addition to Comet Camp, Welcome Week is another great and important event to participate in. It’s an easy way to get involved with student life around campus (and yes, contrary to popular belief, we do have an active student life). The beginning of the school year and the various events that pepper the next several weeks after are a great way to begin to love the school and the campus and make memories that really will follow you during the rest of you collegiate experience.
2. Not joining enough different clubs
If I told myself freshman year that I didn’t join enough clubs, I would have laughed in my face. I joined a lot of clubs, unfortunately they were all the same kind of club with, to be honest, the same types of people. UTD has so many different clubs: dance clubs, academic clubs, pre-professional clubs, cultural clubs and so many more. Even if it’s not in your field of study or even if you aren’t even completely sure you’re interested, go to a couple meetings, talk to some of the members and who knows; you could find your campus niche.
3. Not taking enough risk in my extracurricular activities
I think this is kind of relevant to the last point. I spent my entire freshman year playing it safe, trying to focus slowly on my classes and my future plans. It wasn’t until my sophomore year where I took a risk and joined the school paper that I really started to enjoy my college experience. Maybe you try something and fail, or maybe you try something and it becomes one of the biggest passions you develop. I cannot imagine my life without journalism, and I can’t say that the other opportunities it has presented me as an undergraduate and graduate student haven’t influenced my life in a positive way.
4. Not developing good relationships with more of my professors
I’m lucky that over the course of my undergraduate experience that I developed a meaningful relationship with a couple of my professors and advisors. These were the people who tolerated me stopping by their office for a quick question and the ones who imparted upon me their advice and wisdom about life events. However, I really do wish I had taken the time to develop relationships with more of my professors. I was lucky as an undergrad and I’m lucky as a graduate student to be at a school where faculty really seem to care about their students.
5. Not making a point to meet more people
I met a lot of different people throughout my undergraduate education. All of them have broadened my perspective on life, but I wish I had made it a point to meet more people and rattle my world view even more. The amazing thing about college is that there are so many other educated people who just may disagree with you and who just may get into a 3 hour discussion with you about the existence of God or any number of other philosophical things.
6. Not keeping the relationships and connections I had
Again, this is slightly related to my last point, but I can count the number of people I met in college and still talk to on one hand, and I graduated from college less than a year ago. I really regret not branching out and meeting new people. I regret not getting to know my freshman roommate on a more personal level. I also regret allowing my ambitions to outshine finding and developing lasting friendships with people. It’s not to say the friends I made aren’t the best people in the world because they are, and I know they’ll be there for me no matter what.
7. Not learning to effectively manage my time
I probably could have balanced my classes and many other extracurriculars, community service and a job my freshman year. I managed to do so the next two years I was in undergrad. I think about how much more I could have experienced or done if I had just learned to manage my time. Don’t wait until the next year to find your campus niche. Just take a risk but make sure you finish all your other work first.
8. Not being more present
Sometimes you can waltz around your undergraduate years and the next thing you know, you’re walking across the stage getting your degree. You also realize that, “Oh my gosh I have to be an adult right now.” I think I spent so much of my time as an undergrad anticipating the next step and trying to make sure I was doing all the right things. And while it’s important to keep your eye on the prize, there’s nothing wrong with being present and forming memories such as running through the fountains at midnight or longboarding and trying to capture pictures of the moon.
9. Not taking advantage of the opportunities presented to me
So over the last year I’ve been at UTD, I’ve realized the multitude of services offered to students. Our activity center is probably the first thing on the list. Our raquetball courts, rock climbing gym, and basketball courts are all wonderful resources to us. In addition, we have the UTDesign studio which students are allowed access to through the UTD Makerspace as well as the Thomsen ticket fund where students are able to get free tickets to a number of operas, symphonies and plays throughout the year. And this is just the surface. I wish I had taken more advantage of these services my first year here and I hope that you freshmen take advantage of these opportunities right off the bat.
10. Not giving myself time to recuperate and relax
After I finished my undergraduate degree, I was burnt out. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I wasn’t sure what I was good at and I wasn’t sure who I could rely on and who I couldn’t. I wish I had taken the time to embrace time for myself to enjoy the things I like to do without having to have a reason or purpose for everything I did.