How to Thrive During your Freshman Year

Photo courtesy of AJ Minnich

Photo courtesy of AJ Minnich

As many of you know, moving from high school to college can be very difficult, given the new living arrangements, geography, and social climate. 

Acclimating to this climate is a process that admittedly does take a while, even for those of us who are returning to Moravian. It’s scary and daunting stepping into what feels like unknown territory. What’s good about college specifically though is that all of your peers know what it’s like being in that same boat.

Knowing exactly what it feels like to come into college, The Comenian offers this comprehensive guide not only on how to survive your freshman year but to thrive both academically and emotionally.

Advice for Residents – AJ

As a resident student, I know what it’s like to have such a big adjustment to living on campus. Most of us have lived with the same people and maybe even places for our entire lives, so taking this step towards independence can be both daunting and scary. Don’t fret, though, because after the initial nerves wear off and you get acclimated to college life, Moravian starts to become a really fun and great place to live.

How to deal with homesickness

If you are feeling homesick one big thing to know is that it won’t go away instantly and that some days will be worse and some will be better. If you are feeling homesick, keep yourself busy. Hang out with friends. Go to club fair (Tuesday September 6th) to find clubs to join.  And, yes, do your classwork!.

You may be away from home, but keep in touch with your family. Call your parents, text your siblings (who you can’t believe you’re actually missing), and maybe even go home on some weekends if you can. Homesickness may be the most emotionally taxing part about going to college, but it will get better. 

How to deal with the workload

The workload at college is very different than high school and will take some time to adjust to, especially if you didn’t taken AP or dual enrollment courses in high school. College work requires a lot more independent study outside of class, which is partially why you don’t have seven hours of classes during the day. 

Learning how to manage your time is key. If you wait until the last minute to do projects, expect to stay up all night because that can and will happen. Better to get a head start on assignments and study beforehand. When you do, remember to pace yourself and take breaks. If you complete assignments like you’re making a mad dash to the finish line, I promise you your professors will take notice. It’s also important to maintain a healthy sleep schedule and have time for yourself so make sure you don’t overload yourself with work. If you need help finding good study spots I recommend reading this guide to finding a good study spot on campus, by our managing editor, Logan Palau.

How to deal with dorm life

Dorm life can be especially tricky because you are sharing a living space with an entire floor of total strangers, but I promise you it’s not as bad as you might think. 

For the most part, people keep to themselves and are generally courteous of everyone else on the floor, so you hopefully shouldn’t have to deal with someone blasting music at 2 in the morning. Be warned, though: you will more than likely hear people partying and drunk people acting like idiots, especially on the weekend. Unfortunately,  there’s really not much to do about that besides just laugh and shrug it off (and talk to your RA).

At least for boys’ floors, bathroom etiquette is extremely poor so please don’t be a jerk and leave your stuff lying all over the place, don’t leave your poop to ferment in the toilet, and be sure to generally clean up after yourself.

How to deal with a social life

Before I get started let me make this clear: you do not need to go to parties to have a social life. 

There are a variety of ways to have a thriving social life outside of going to parties. For example, there are a litany of different clubs on campus you can join. If you are passionate about something, there is more than likely a club that has the same interest. Whether those interests be video games, anime, politics, science, mathematics, law, social justice, athletics, or more there will be a club or community that will embrace you with open arms. 

I’d also recommend socializing with some of your fellow classmates, because it not only creates a better class environment but it’s also an easy and effective way to make friends and acquaintances. In short, get involved around campus. Don’t just go with the flow and stay in your shell, because if you do you will miss out on what makes college so fun to begin with. I promise you that if someone as shy and reserved as me has found his people and purpose on campus, then you can, too. You just have to get up and get out there!

Advice for Commuters – Fatimah

As a commuter, I know the difficulties that come with not having the full campus experience. Whether we are tethered to out-of-school commitments or live in proximity to campus and dorming seems unnecessary, we can feel like we’re missing out on the true campus life. However, there is no need to fret or be conquered by the confounded FOMO. The good news is that you can still have a fulfilling campus life even if you don’t dorm or aren’t on campus all the time.

Joining clubs, extracurriculars or getting an on-campus job

Yes, this should be a no-brainer: joining at least some club or activity is a great way of dispelling loneliness and making connections. With this year’s Club Fair on September 6th coming up, I highly encourage my fellow commuters to select at least one club that they can fit into their busy schedule to stick to. I know that it may not seem important but trust me, I was once a freshman who didn’t think that clubs were integral to the college experience. Turns out, they are. They can serve as a source of leisure from the hustle and bustle of school and since we don’t dorm and can’t connect with people that way, it’s another way of finding like-minded individuals with whom we can share common interests. 

Not to shamelessly plug but if you love writing and have an hour to spend on Wednesdays, joining The Comenian, Moravian’s student-run newspaper, is a great way of not only contributing to the community but also creating connections. I can attest that we’re a dedicated club of committed individuals who have meaningful conversations and voice them through the paper. Join us at our first meeting this coming Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 5:00 in Zinzendorf 100.

Another option is getting an on-campus job. Whether it’s working at one of the campus dining spots or being a tutor for elementary students, you have plenty of options to choose from. Many on-campus jobs even accommodate flexibility if you have other commitments. 

Be patient with the parking

Parking can be frustrating. Don’t procrastinate getting to campus because it’ll be that much harder to find a parking spot, and you may have to find somewhere far off campus, which can be even more stressful if you’re running late.

Do your homework on campus

I know there’s a strong temptation to immediately go home after your last class of the day, but if you’re drowning in lots of assignments, I’d highly recommend taking some time to stay on campus and going to a good study spot to complete them. There’s a low chance you’ll get them done at home due to distractions and other responsibilities. So why not stick around campus? You could go to a quiet spot at Reeves Library and even get a study room all to yourself to really get down and busy. Apps like Tide and Forest can even help you to stay off your phone and stay focused on your work. I’m not saying you have to spend long hours or wait until nightfall and try to complete everything, but spend 30 minutes to an hour on getting your assignments. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish and you can go home with at least a smaller workload! 

Take time to really take in your surroundings

My final piece of advice for my freshman commuters is to just stick around and take in your surroundings. Sit at DeLights’ Café and observe the people who come in and out. Walk around both North and South Campus and familiarize yourself with the areas. If there’s an on-campus event or panel going on, attend for at least a little bit and get involved. Simple things like these helped me feel more connected to the Moravian community when I was a lost little freshman. 

It’s not easy making friends or contributing actively to the community as a commuter. However, if you can get out there just a little bit and spend at least a little time getting to know the Moravian community, it can make your college experience that much better. I wish you the best of luck, freshman commuters. Get yourselves out there!