5 First-Year Mistakes to Avoid

By Katie Cannon ′15

Ah, the first-year of college. Good times by the gallon—but tempered with teaspoons of regret. However,  if you follow these tips, your first-year doesn’t have to be something you’ll only wax nostalgic about come junior year, but an awesome foundation for future felicity. Can you tell I like alliteration?

1. Being afraid of your randomly-selected roommate. 
Going potluck with a roommate may seem pretty dicey, but Rhodes often does a weirdly good job with the pairing process. Make an effort to get to know that stranger in the bottom bunk. You and your random roomie could become best friends for life, soulmates forged in the hairy hardship of communal bathrooms. Even if it′s not a match made in heaven, a friendly relationship with your roomie will diffuse a lot of potentially awkward or tense situations in the future. Every day I thank the divine powers of Res Life for my first-year roommates, who are to this day some of my very best friends in the world. However, I′m just one lucky lady. I’m not guaranteeing that potluck will guarantee suite-sharing bliss; just don’t let uncertainty or nervousness keep you from getting to know your roomie.

2. Overcommiting—and underperforming.
At your first SACK fair (which, oddly enough, has nothing to do with potatoes or affordable handbags), you may be tempted to simply sign up for every organization within reach. Proceed with perspective:  you can’t let the sheer magnitude of clubs that will inevitably come knocking to claim your membership send you into a panic. My first year, I signed up for roughly 10,000 organizations and, buried under a barrage of “let’s get started” emails, ended up becoming involved in roughly zero. Lesson learned: don’t overdo it. Go out and try some; narrow it down. Figure out what you really enjoy, even if it’s not what all your friends are doing. Make connections and create relationships, get passionate about things that you can build on throughout your years at Rhodes and beyond.

3. Blowing off your classes.
I’m not going to tell you not to procrastinate, because I have no taste for hypocrisy. Some people can only focus dangerously close to a deadline, and if that’s the case, make it work for you! But--and this is imperative--get it done. It may take a while to figure out what study habits bring out your brilliance, but take your studies seriously and make those discoveries. Know thyself, ladies and gents, and you can get an awesome GPA—without sacrificing all the other aspects of college life. My first semester, I was too embarrassed to ever speak in class, but when I finally started speaking up and getting involved, I got so much more out of i.t. Pay attention, engage with the material, and participate in discussions, and you’ll find that not only are your courses super interesting, but much easier than you thought.

4. Getting too cozy in the Rhodes Bubble. 
At first, Memphis may serve only as a vaguely interesting backdrop to your dream school—an urban edge, a southern idiosyncrasy, perhaps, but not any defining quality of your experience. Oh, how wrong you are! Memphis is an amazing place to grow and change during your college career—because it’s growing and changing, too. With a unique, vibrant local culture and tons of opportunities, Rhodes students often find that once they puncture the Rhodes bubble and get out into the city, they see their entire college experience with new eyes. Believe it or not, there are greater pleasures in this world than Netflix in your twin bed. Get to know Memphis, and you’ll make so many connections between classroom and community and between yourself and the world—and you may have some fun, too.

5. Being anyone but yourself.
College is a place where you can be the youiest you of all the potential yous in all potential youniverses. The things that held you back in high school, the things that may quash your unadulterated youness out in the adult world—they don’t have to exist here. Rhodes will open your mind to new people, ideas, and experiences. Let it help you figure yourself out.