The first time I set foot on Colgate’s campus, something clicked. Despite the harsh November snowstorm that gripped campus at the time of my Admission Office visit in 2003, I knew almost immediately that this was the right college for me. The University was large enough to offer a plethora of opportunities, but small enough to support a friendly, close-knit community.
Still the transition can be difficult. Here are 13 tried and true tips to make your time at Colgate the best years of your life:
1. Smile at people. It is the fastest way to make a new friend and you never know whom you will meet again later. Make a positive first impression; Colgate is a small school.
2. Get involved. The second fastest way to make a new friend is to get involved in an organization. People are united by common passions, so find your kindred spirits at the Student Activities Fair on September 5th!
3. Be open to new people. You might think you have little in common, but these are the people from whom you can learn the most. Take advantage of those differences.
4. Try something new. College is all about broadening your horizons. You can’t do that if you are stuck in a rut. Try a new food. Join a new club. Take a class in something you know very little about.
5. Wear maroon. School spirit might not be your thing, but Colgate spirit is what binds together this community. Want some proof? Talk to any Colgate alum.
6. Make the town-gown connection. As amazing as Colgate is, it is an artificial world. (In what other circumstance would you live with 2750 people your own age?) Get a dose of real life just down the hill. Talk to people in town. Get up early for the farmer’s market on the village green. Go to the library book sale on August 31 or volunteer for SOMAC.
7. Ask for help. For many Colgate students, success has come easily in the past, especially academically. College can be a big adjustment, though, no matter how prepared you are. If you stumble, ask for help. That’s why professors have office hours.
8. Be Safe. You are officially on your own and responsible for yourself. You will undoubtedly test your limits. Be smart about it. Drunk driving and/or alcohol related hospital visits are not worth the consequences. And do you really want to expose yourself to the possibility of an STD or STI?
9. It’s ok to be homesick, but don’t wallow in it. Call your parents or friends from home. Then go to dinner with friends from your hall, your new teammates, or pals from those organizations you joined at the Student Activities Fair (see Tip #3). You aren’t alone…everyone gets homesick. But if get hung up on missing your “old life,” this one will be unbearable.
10. Take advantage of everything Colgate has to offer. Ben Stein will be here next week. Many of Colgate’s professors are at the forefront in their fields. Every year students conduct, present and publish their own undergraduate research. You have countless opportunities as a Colgate student; make the most of them.
11. Go abroad. Colgate has 22 semester-long off-campus study programs as well as extended study trips. Try it. It will be one of the best experiences of your life.
12. Think about what comes next. Four years goes by quickly. Career Services can help you brainstorm and plan for your future. They can also help you capitalize on the Colgate Connection and network with alumni.
13. Have fun! You only have four years here. It might seem like a lot, but trust me, it’s not. The years fly by too quickly. You won’t love every moment that you are here, but form those great memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your life!
In the end, you’re going to hear a lot of advice from a lot of different people over the next few weeks. Heed that advice, but don’t get too caught up in it. Your college years are, ultimately, all about you.