Dear new UMBC students:
You’ve made it through your first two weeks. Now that the excitement is waning and you’re probably having to deal with some unexpected problems, let’s talk about how to work through the hard times no one told you to expect.
Here are some of our editors with advice they wish they had been told the second week of their first semester at UMBC.
You grow up so much over the course of your first year in college—it’s almost unfathomable. But, one day next May, you’ll look back and think, wow, I’m different. It’ll be a good different, though, one where you can be proud of how far you’ve come and how far you have yet to go. As a freshman, I didn’t really know where I belonged, and if you’re feeling the same way now, that’s okay. You’ll find it. It might take a little while—for me, it took over a year—but you will reach a point where your life here clicks into place and suddenly you’ll have friends who go to late night with you, professors who recognize your abilities and maybe even a freshman who looks up to you as they find their own way.
Johanna, News Editor
The most annoyingly rote advice that’s given to college freshmen is, “get involved on campus!” I took that to heart; by the end of sophomore year, I had accumulated two jobs, was an active participant in the Musical Theatre Club and was writing for the paper every week. Soon, my days were almost fourteen hours long, starting with class at 8:30 A.M. and ending with rehearsals that ran until 10 P.M. It was exhausting, but the thought of quitting was worse. I didn’t want to let down any of the coworkers or castmates that relied on me, and I didn’t want to cut out the most fun and interesting parts of my loaded schedule—even if they were also sometimes the most tiring and stress-inducing.
My advice is neither to join as many organizations as you can possibly squeeze into your schedule, nor is it to avoid over-committing yourself. My only advice to you is to know what you need to do to get by. For me, the misery of not being involved in my clubs and internships is much higher than the stress of occasionally turning something in late. For others, getting good grades is their number one priority, and missing an assignment would be far more detrimental than quitting an activity they enjoyed. But you’re the only one who can figure out those priorities, who can make that decision, who can know what’s going to make you the most happy, successful and fulfilled student you can be.
Natalie, Digital Managing Editor
You are going to have to come to terms with failure. I know that’s harsh and is hard to hear, but some things are just not going to go your way. You might do terribly on a test that you studied really hard for. You might forget to do a reading and end up looking like a bumbling idiot during a class discussion. You might even sleep through a class and end up feeling extremely left behind. And yes, I am speaking from experience.
But here’s the thing about failures: they can either burden you or motivate you. Initially, coming in to college, my main goals were to do well in all my classes, get good grades and eventually get into a good graduate school. Any time I failed to meet my own expectations for my performance in an academic setting, I let my thoughts spiral out of control: “I’m going to fail this class. And then the next class. And then I’ll lose my scholarship. And then I’ll have to drop out. And then I’ll end up working at Burger King for the rest of my life.”
So far, these things haven’t happened. I quickly learned that berating myself over failures was—shockingly!—not helpful to my academic success, social life or mental health. Rather, failures are best used as a learning tool, a way to reassess your mistakes and keep them from happening again. Failing an exam or having to withdraw from a course may seem like the end of the world, but I promise that it is not. The earth will keep on spinning, and it’s up to you whether you want to move with it or stay anchored in one spot.
Maxi, Content Managing Editor
When I came to college, I had just suffered a catastrophic knee injury that rendered me completely immobile, hopped up on painkillers and lonely as ever. I grew up in a small town and I missed my best friends, who had always lived right down the road. Of course, the modern age allows us to keep in contact—texts, calls, FaceTime and Instagram allowed me to feel like I was always with them. But here’s the thing: I wasn’t. I was with me, in a new world surrounded by strangers.
In high school my identity was the same as it had been for years. I attended my zoned public school with the same kids for a decade, and I had no concept of breaking out of my confined social status. Why try to make friends with a girl who had run in different circles than me for the better part of my life? I thought things like that weren’t meant to be, but in college, I learned that they could be. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel afraid to express my growth. I took up new interests and worked hard to prove myself to professors, wanting so badly to become the good student that I hadn’t always been.
If you’re like me, you might feel like you’ve been missing something your whole life. Find it here. Sure, it’s a new world full of exciting new people, places and things, but there’s also a new you. The most prevalent advice I received when I went off to college was to explore. Take this time to reflect on who you were before. Identity your faults, then forgive yourself. And don’t forget to call you mom, too. She misses you, I bet.
Ceyda, Arts and Culture Editor
Crisis is individual. Everyone handles change differently, but that does not mean there are not people who are empathetic and can help you, who can save you. Be aware of your resources and those who care for you. There are people who are passionate about your life even when you are not. Talk to your loved ones, text the crisis textline (Text HOME to 741741), call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-272-8255). There is no shame in wanting help. There is no shame in needing help. Take care of yourself. You deserve to.