Opinion: What I wish I knew as a freshman

The first year of higher education can be very challenging. For some, it will be intimidating to the point that they might consider quitting. For others, their braggadocio and know-it-all at­titude will make everything look easy — until the first real obstacle appears, leaving them petrified. Both situations can be tough on your morale as a stu­dent, so it is important to develop the proper mindset for school (and life in general) as early as you can — when you are a freshman.

There are many things I wish I knew when I was a first-year student that would have saved me valuable time and helped me achieve greater success ear­lier in life. I had to go through many tribulations on my own, and a lot of what I learned came from trial-and-error situations. This helped me shape my character, but I could have gotten to that point in a more streamlined way. To make things easier for you, I would like to share what I think will help fresh­men get on the path to a positive aca­demic experience.

Successful people see life as a con­tinuous educational journey. If you want to achieve your dreams, you will have to study — for the rest of your life. Com­mon sense, right? Well, I’m shocked at how many students, based on their ac­tions, seemingly disagree with this theory. They complain about having to read textbooks, they don’t study for tests, and they are the last to show up to class and the first to leave. This type of be­havior practiced repeatedly will turn into a habit, compounding and worsen­ing over time, bound to permeate into other areas of your life.

I had a similar attitude a while ago, and if I could go back in time, I’d smack myself in the back of the head for it. And I’m sure you know a lot of people who have a similar mentality, perhaps even yourself. There’s no better thing to do than to establish a personal philosophy when you are a freshman. Why? Because this will dictate the actions you take while at school — and, later on, the workforce. If your philosophy under­stands the importance of continuous learning and self-improvement, you will have a clearer path towards your goals. If you don’t have a philosophy at all, you’ll be with the vast majority of peo­ple who wander through their lives aim­lessly. Is that really what you want?

Many go through college with the mentality that all they’ll ever have to do is show up to class. According to them, you only have to do the bare minimum, and once you graduate, companies will be running towards you with employ­ment offers. This is false, and it becomes more evident the closer I get to gradu­ation. To stand out from the rest, there are so many more things you will have to do outside of class on your own time. From the perspective of an information technology student, you have to build several complex technical skills, acquire experience through internships and build a sizable portfolio of your projects. Someone with the right philosophy knows this extra effort is to be expected, and someone without one will see it as nothing but a chore. So, who will be more successful in life?

Understand that learning and study­ing will always be a part of your life; and if you want to be successful, it will help you propel forward through situations that leave others stumbled. This is some­thing that is impossibly easy to see, but just as easy to ignore. Some people adopt this mindset in order to help them achieve their goals, while others never appreciate its importance. If there is something I wish I knew when I was a freshman, it’s this. Now that you know it too, you can take action and build the mindset that will help you get the most out of your academic experience.

ILLUSTRATION BY BRUNO MARQUEZ