Welcome to the first week of school here in Maryland!
Whether you’re a freshman in high school, a freshman in college or a graduate fresh out of college, the first year is difficult. You’re the lowest on the proverbial totem pole, you’re in a new environment and you (most likely) have no idea what you’re doing.
Don’t panic. You’ll get through it. But while you’re still figuring things out, here are some tips I thought might help you in your journey.
- Immerse yourself. If you commit 110 percent to making this the best experience possible, it will be. Be proactive in seeking out activities, projects and groups in which to involve yourself. The more questions you ask and the more vested you become in your school/company will equate to a better experience and more happiness on your end.
- Do your homework. Whether you actually have homework or are in the workforce, be ready to put in some hours off the clock/out of the classroom. Prepare yourself for class and meetings, even if it means staying up a bit later or getting up early to do some research. Trust me, it’ll impress those around you and help you establish a reputation as a reliable student/employee.
- Find your niche. As hard as this experience may be, remember that you are not alone. There are many other people on this same journey. Figure out your areas of interest or hobbies and look for groups or people with those same interests. It will help you in adapting to your new environment and also give you the opportunity to make new friends.
- Dress the part. This is more for the young professionals, but can be applicable to freshmen as well. First impressions are key. Showing up to work in less than the specified attire or to class in pajamas gives the idea that you aren’t as motivated as those who dress to impress.
- Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t sit right with you, don’t do it. Peer pressure both in school and work environments can push you to do better or, more likely, get you in trouble. Staying out too late before a big test or presentation – mauvaise idée. Being hungover for class or work on a regular basis is also a bad idea.
- It’s okay to fail. No one is perfect. You are not expected to be, either. As my parents always said, “Try your best. If you know you tried your best, we support you.” If you put in less than an honest effort, expect less than a stellar result.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Teachers, advisors, counselors, parents, bosses, mentors and even siblings are here to help you. But they don’t know you need help if you don’t ask. Sometimes it’s good to fake it ‘til you make it, but more often than not, you’ll get your desired result quicker if you ask for guidance from any or all of your support system.
What’s your best piece of advice for a newbie?