Congratulations and welcome to Drexel University, the institution that you have selected to be your best friend, or worst enemy, for the next 4 or 5 years.
As a senior, I have decided to impart my wisdom on you for the coming school year. The move to college can be a bit daunting, which is why I decided to offer these tips in the only way I know how – spaghetti western style.
The Good: Everyone is new. As you make your way onto campus, you’ll be surrounded by many unfamiliar faces. You will begin to meet people from all walks of life with whom you may think you don’t have much in common. However, you will soon realize that this is far from the truth. In fact, all of you have at least one common ground: you are all new students. This is one of the few times you will have the opportunity to introduce yourself to many new people without having to feel awkward about it. I urge you to embrace the awkwardness and realize that everyone is in the same situation as you. Many of your closest friendships will be formed your freshman year, so do not be afraid to meet new people.
The Bad: Early mornings. During your first term here, your class schedule will be predetermined for you. While this does alleviate some of the pressure of selecting the right classes, it also opens you up to the inevitable 8:00 a.m. class. Along with these classes you may also be assigned to an 8:00 a.m. “common exam” period during which you will take your midterms; there is no way around this. All I can say is that if you have trouble waking up early, now is the time to invest in an alarm clock.
The Good: Extracurricular activities. One of the great things about college is the variety of extracurricular activities offered. So many activities! While these are a great way to meet people, the true benefit of them is that they are free (once you ignore the fact that you paid for them with your mandatory student activity fee). As an added bonus, most of them offer free food during the first couple of weeks to entice new members to join. If nothing else, go for the food. As you get older, you’ll regret all the times you passed up free food.
The Bad: Philadelphia weather. There is only one rule to Philadelphia weather, but it is an important one. It will always rain on the days that you do not bring an umbrella, and conversely, it will never rain on the days you do bring it. Do yourself a favor and pack an umbrella in your backpack to keep on you constantly. Feel free to thank me later.
The Good: More freedom. For most of you, this will be the first time that you are completely away from your parents. Enjoy it. Feel free to explore Center City Philadelphia, go to the gym at 11:00 p.m. (it’s open until midnight), play volleyball in between classes, etc. It’s really up to you to make the most of it, so go out and take advantage of the freedom.
The Bad: More freedom. As stated earlier, you will have a lot of freedom that you may not be accustomed to. It is really easy to get distracted and watch TV all night before a final, skip classes in lieu of sleep, procrastinate homework until the last minute, and so on. In the same way that you are responsible for what you make of your college experience, you should not lose sight of the main reason for which you are here – to get a piece of paper with your name on it when you graduate. You won’t be able to enjoy the college life if you don’t get the grades needed to come back next term.
The Ugly: The endless construction. This item on the list is the only literal one. Drexel is constantly placed on lists of the ugliest campuses, and most of it is due to the fact that there is always ongoing construction. There is nothing you can do but accept it. Just take solace in knowing that the campus will be a lot nicer around the time you are set to graduate. All the underclassmen will fully enjoy the new building that you witnessed being built during your time here.
Those are all of the tips for now. I wish you the best in your future here. The next few years will be some of the best of your life, and they go by quickly. Take advantage of them and don’t lose focus of your goals.
Roberto Salome is a senior majoring in computer engineering. He can be reached at [email protected].