Skip to main content

Advice for your Freshman Year (From a Seasoned Sophomore)

By 2013 Most Valuable Student scholar and Elks Scholar Advisory Board member Nate Baker 

Nate Baker, 2013 MVS scholar sponsored by Tyrone, Pa., Lodge No. 212, is the freshman representative on the Elks Scholar Advisory Board and new to college life. Throughout his first year of college, we followed Nate's adventures during his first year at Cornell through monthly blog posts.

Freshman year of college taught me a lot of lessons. We’re going to set those lessons about international relations, statistics, Spanish and history aside for now and focus on “less-conventional” ones learned through experience and trial-and-error. It’s not that Just War Theory, multiple regression, and the Jacobite Rebellion aren't important—they have their place, but summer’s here. Here are a few things that no guidebook or college tour will tell you about your first year at school.

It’s always freezing and there's no sun. Take Vitamin D.
This one is vital. The first cold days of the fall you'll see Californians and Floridians either grossly over- or under-prepared for the weather. Half of them in parkas, half of them in shorts and tanks, all of them Vitamin D deficient. Go to Walmart, buy these, and feel better.

Food is everywhere, (nearly) free, and in mass quantities. Make good choices.
With all-you-can-eat dining halls, 40 on-campus dining options, and hundreds of restaurants, it is easy to become unhealthy. There are apples and water. Eat those and walk. I was lucky enough to learn these lessons early on, but many students aren't so fortunate.

You don’t need to buy every book that your professor recommends. Talk to students that have taken the class and ask them. Use the library.
Even with a scholarship, college is cripplingly expensive. A nickel-and-dime cost that you’ll incur every semester is textbooks, project packets, software and access codes. Many times, you simply do not need these materials. I have heard firsthand of the thousands of dollars wasted on books still in the plastic wrap at the end of the course. Ask the professor, ask students that took the class last semester, find the books online, and go to the library. There are literally millions of books there at your disposal.

Forget classes once in a while and say “Yes.”
Your body and mind should always come first. Classes and commitments will take their tolls and stress you out. Your friends will ask you at midnight to go do something stupid and you should absolutely go do it. Say “yes.” Try new clubs, dance classes, shows and routes. It gets harder to get involved later on, so take advantage of the first few weeks where anything goes. You won’t remember that you got an A- instead of a B+ on a psych exam because you stayed in to study. I’ve had some of my favorite experiences by being spontaneous.

Home is where the heart is. Don’t forget your roots, but make college your new home.
Living away from home is a gigantic transition. It’s a new feeling to be completely on your own for the first time. Remember to call home once in a while, but the best plan is to assimilate to your new environment. Soon enough you'll be missing college more than mom. (Sorry, mom.)

People and guidebooks will pressure you down a certain path. You’re unique and your route will be different. Don’t stress and do it your way.
“You should declare your major by now.” “You should feel comfortable by then.” “You should know how by November.” Forget these people and you’ll do what you want. I’m guessing that you know yourself better than anyone else, so listen to your gut.

So there it is, listen to me or not, college will blindside you and it was nothing like I expected. Go with the flow and it’ll be the best year of your life. I’ve been through a lot after just one year and I can’t wait to see what the future brings. I hope you’ve enjoyed my stories from my freshman year. For the last time this year...

Thanks for reading,

Nate Baker
Freshman Elks Scholar Advisory Board Representative
2013 Most Valuable Student Scholar
Cornell University

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Katie Gets Acquainted with the ENF

by Katie Graves
Lodge Grants Programs Coordinator
Hello! My name is Katie Graves, and I am excited to be one of the new Programs Coordinators in the Community Investments Program office.

I graduated from Valparaiso University with a degree in English and Secondary Education with a minor in Social Work in December 2018. I spent the next six months building and growing my small online vintage clothing business, working retail at a Swedish furniture store (any guesses?), and searching for a purposeful job that I could fall in love with that would also allow me to move from southeastern Wisconsin to Chicago. When I landed the Programs Coordinator position at the Elks National Foundation, I was ecstatic to begin this journey both professionally and personally. I was moving to my dream city, and I was going to be doing a job with purpose focused on helping passionate groups of wonderful Elks do good in their communities with CIP grants.

I became a part of the ENF family at an exciting time of…

Meaghan's First Month

by Meaghan Morris
Lodge Grants Program Coordinator

Hello! My name is Meaghan, and I am thrilled to be the new Programs Coordinator in the Community Investments Program office.
I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2015. Since then, I’ve jetted around peripatetically, travelling to 46 states and 24 countries, and living in Western Massachusetts, Boston, and the mountains of rural Wyoming.  I moved to Chicago in 2016, and the Cubs won the World Series a little while later. I attribute my move as the main catalyst for the breaking of the Curse of the Billy Goat, so, you’re welcome for that, Cubs fans!
I joined the ENF during its busiest time of the year. I started working in the CIP office one day after grant applications opened for the new year, and our office was inundated with hundreds of grant applications in that first week alone. On top of the busyness in our office, Fundraising, Communications, Hoop Shoot and Scholarships were excitedly (yet gracefully!) preparin…

SAB in STL

by John Kavula
Elks Scholar Fellow
Less than a month after I started working at the ENF, I was in San Antonio with 150 of our scholars for the 150 for 150 Service and Celebration Weekend. That was my first time at a national convention. With all the excitement of the celebration, I knew that it was a unique event and not something to expect every year. This year, I was looking forward to going to St. Louis to see a different side of convention with a much smaller group of people: the members of our Scholar Advisory Board. After being a part of the SAB’s annual meeting, I can say one thing for sure: grab your shades because the future for Elks scholars is bright!
All of our scholars are obviously amazing, not only for their academic prowess, but their service to their communities. The members of the SAB stand out among the thousands of Elks scholars for one important reason: their dedication to engaging other Elks scholars. Staffing the Board’s meeting in St. Louis, I heard their ideas …