This is a blog by one of our University of Wisconsin (Madison) Intern Queen Campus Ambassadors, Jackie! We have two official campus ambassadors for the University of Wisconsin - if you attend UW-Madison and want to blog for our network - please comment here and Jackie will get in touch with you!
Most colleges have a handbook for freshmen, but it’s not really a handbook for freshmen, if you know what I mean. It tells you how to use your food account, but it neglects to mention that the meatloaf should be avoided at all costs.
Here’s my “handbook” – a couple of the things I wished I had known before starting my freshman year:
1) Don’t worry about making friends
Unless your entire high school is going to the same college, you’re probably going to have to make some new friends. This is one of the most fun parts of college, yet so many people stress out about it. Everyone is in the same boat (for the most part) not knowing anyone, so there’s no reason to stress. It’s easiest to befriend people living in your dorm, but I’ve made some of my closest friends in classes.
2) Get to know the dining halls
Like I mentioned above, learning to navigate the dining halls is another large obstacle for freshmen. Learn the specials for the dining hall you eat at. The dining hall I went to, Frank’s Place, had late-night specials like Taco Tuesday and Waffle Wednesday. These were great to go to with your floor for bonding time!
3) Be nice to your custodial staff
This is one thing that can be easily overlooked – your custodial staff can really help you out! If you ever need tools to fix something, they are your best friends. I would always say hello to Jerome, the custodian for my dorm. During move-out, he stopped by to help move stuff out of my room. Turns out being nice pays off, who knew?
4) Your roommate doesn’t have to be your best friend
Sometimes the people that are closest to you are harder to live with, and this can cause huge problems even end friendships. Spring for a random roommate instead of living with your high school BFF – you guys can remain friends and, chances are, you’ll only make more friends by going with a random roommate.
5) Realize the importance of the year
Your freshman year is crucial! You make friends you’ll have throughout college and sometimes, even longer. You’ll learn how to live with a roommate – and sometimes re-learn some kindergarten skills, like sharing and playing nice. Freshman year also sets your eating and exercise habits for the rest of college – get an early start on a healthy lifestyle! Oh, and study hard! The motto at my school is “work hard, play hard” – UW-Madison is of the best non-ivy schools in the nation but also consistently ranked among the best party schools.
The number one thing I wish I would have learned early on, however, is how to network in college. Join clubs, make friends in different “groups” and talk to your professors (especially the ones in your field who can write letters of recommendation).