Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Enjoy the view

<lass="page layoutArea" title="Page 1">

I didn’t especially like freshman year. I felt placeless and without a sense of belonging. My classes bored me; the classrooms seemed lifeless and stifling. I didn’t know who I wanted to
be friends with. I spent a lot of time running in the Arb, and many Saturday nights in search of something to do–a party, an adventure or other quintessential college experience.

At the time I blamed Carleton, thinking I had simply chosen the “wrong” school. In reality I had underestimated the magnitude of the transition to college. I assumed it would all come effortlessly, the academics, the friends, the everything else. I eventually found the people I liked and the things I liked doing, and then Carleton felt entirely different: vibrant, exciting, teeming with possibilities. But none of it was as seamless as I’d wanted or expected it to be.

Creating a life you like in a new place takes work. Here are a few things I learned through that process. If you’re one of those freshmen who met all their best friends during New Student Week, does every reading assignment, goes to parties and still manages to maintain a 3.9 GPA while playing a club sport, attending Food Truth meetings and generally being a nice and wonderful person, well, good for you, I’m pretty sure you don’t exist. For everyone else:

1. Stop stressing about school. Do your best, and then be ok with the result. Also, don’t complain about how much work you have, because everyone has a lot of work, and no doubt, someone has more than you.

2. Get out of intro classes as soon as possible. You think they’re going to be easy, but they tend to be uniquely awful. 200-levels are much better; interesting and compelling in depth, but not overwhelming.

3. Ask upperclassmen about classes before you register for them, and choose classes with good professors. The course description on Enroll might sounds fascinating, but a dull professor will make the most exciting of subjects mind-numbing.

4. Try a lot of things and then only do one or two of them. It’s fun to go to a zillion meetings and activities, but eventually commit yourself to just a few. Quality rather than quantity is going to give you a richer Carleton experience, and no one likes a flake with too many commitments. Words to live by: “don’t half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”–Ron Swanson.

5. Hang out with people you like (obviously) and don’t worry if you don’t find those people immediately. As I said, it took me the entirety of my freshman year to figure out where I wanted to be socially in the Carleton biosphere. It’s confusing. Even as a senior, it can still be confusing.

6. Partying, watching TV in your pajamas, and studying in the Libe on Saturday nights are all acceptable options. Seriously, no one cares. You’re a human being. Do what you have to do, and respect other people’s reasons for doing the same. That goes for everything at Carleton.

7. Despite the lurking tone of condescension in this article, don’t let anyone make you feel inferior because you’re a freshman. We were all freshman quite recently, and though we sometimes forget what being new to Carleton feels like, we definitely made the same faux-pas you’re making right now. And we definitely didn’t realize we were making them at the time either. If upperclassmen are grouchy, it’s just because we’re old and washed up and wish we had the wonderful four-year expanse of Carleton stretched out before us. Above all, enjoy that view.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *