Oberlin Blogs

Lessons Learned

June 7, 2014

Brendan Nuse ’17 and Frances Casey ’17


Wahoo, it's summer! And boy, did it come quickly. It feels like just yesterday when I and hundreds of other baby first years arrived at Oberlin sweating profusely and clutching boxes of belongings we didn't need. And now Brendan and I are sophomores! A few lessons learned over the course of my first year:

Independence is a cool thing to have.
Everyone comes to college super excited for the independence that comes with leaving home. It's great! No longer do you have a curfew, people judging your sleeping habits, or parents who are passive aggressive about how many cookies you choose to eat at a given mealtime. Class of 2018: get excited! Your time has come to spread to spread your wings and fly! (Pssst--the peanut butter cookies at Stevie are great!)

FYRE is a cool place to live in.
This past year, I lived in a First Year Residential Experience hall (Barrows, my personal Versailles...), and I had a really great experience. The majority of the good friends I've made in the past year also lived in Barrows. FYRE RAs also put together events just for their residents. This semester, my RA Maddie brought a zookeeper with animals from the Akron Zoo for us to meet! You guys, I got to pet an armadillo. If you asked other people who lived in FYRE dorms, they would probably all agree that if nothing else, they are a great way to be placed in close proximity to other first years. That's not to say that other living situations may not be a better fit for you; I know people who lived in traditional housing who had a grand ol' time, and pretty much anyone who lives in a co-op loves to tell first years how great that experience is, too. So if you are a soon-to-be first year who is unsure where you want to live next year, or if you're concerned about how you'll make friends upon your sweaty arrival, I encourage you to check out FYRE.

Try some stuff you think you might like, but not too much stuff.
This year, I got involved in a couple of extra-curriculars: Students United for Reproductive Freedom, WOBC, and the blogs, to name a few. First years have the opportunity to get involved in campus organizations, join a co-op, take excos (classes taught by fellow students), run for Student Senate, and countless other things. In my opinion, extra-curriculars are an important part of the college experience, and most Oberlin students are involved in at least one thing outside of their academics. However, I know several fellow students who got sucked down the rabbit-hole of doing EVERYTHING THEY ARE INTERESTED IN, which turned out to be more stressful than enjoyable. Sleep is important, making sure you're still engaged and doing well in your classes is important. Don't forget to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you feel normal after pulling two all-nighters in a row, that's a bad sign. Taking care of yourself should always be your top priority.

Reserve two solid hours for your citations.
They always take longer than you think. Don't wait until 45 minutes before your paper is due to start them.

Your first year will go by FAST.
My stars, did I mention how quickly your first year will go by? Spoiler alert: it will be fast.



We're done with our first year of college! We've been home for over two weeks and I'm just getting ready to post this--clearly the lack of homework is causing me to procrastinate. Anyway, there's been enough time for me to forget the finals stress, so I'm feeling pretty great about the past year. Therefore, this seems like a great time to write an optimistic post about all of the great pearls of wisdom I've gained over the course of my first year of college. I think I'm going to aim this post primarily at students coming to Oberlin this fall, since, if you're anything like me, you're reading these blogs in an attempt to pass the time during this way-too-long summer. So here's some advice from someone who may or may not be qualified to give it! Most of this advice is born out of my mistakes, so make sure not to be like me!

1. Make sure to spend time with your friends and family over the summer.

If you're like me, you can't wait to get to college. In fact, you might be counting down the days until you leave at this very moment. However, you should make sure to make the most of the time you have at home. Although you'll probably stay close to the people you're closest to, your relationship with them will never be quite the same. You're going to grow and change, and so will the people you know now. While that doesn't necessarily mean that you won't still be close, it's important to remember that you'll never be in the same situation again. Take advantage of it! Try to spend time with as many people as possible! Also, you'll probably see your closest friends again. Who you'll really miss are the friends who you like but aren't close enough to stay in touch with over distance. Try to make some last few memories with these people. You're an Oberlin student--you're probably too awkward to talk to these people when you awkwardly see them on the street when you're back home for the summer and you'll end up trying to pretend not to see them but then they'll say hi and you'll be forced to say hi back. Then you'll fall up the stairs. Maybe that's just me. Maybe you should disregard that last bit.

2. Don't bring too many things to college.

It's important to have everything you need, but make sure you know when too much is too much. You don't want to end up with so much stuff you can't fit in in your room--remember that, chances are, you'll be sharing your room with another person who will need their space, too. When you're packing, consider whether or not you'll really need everything you want to bring.

3. You might be worried about classes or making friends, but what will kill you are the everyday things.

When you're trying to do work, keep up with all the things you're doing outside of class, and spend time with your newfound friends, it's hard to remember the little things like cleaning your room, doing your laundry, and keeping in touch with your friends from home. It's important to leave time in your day to keep up with these things. In my experience, letting these things pile up on top of my other responsibilities caused my biggest periods of stress.

4. Always try to make more friends! Friends are great!

You're probably going to make some friends right away. That doesn't mean you should stop trying to make more friends! First of all, you're going to meet a bunch of great people in college, so why wouldn't you want to get to know as many of them as you can!? Also, there are some more practical reasons to make sure you continue to make friends. Even if you love the friends you make initially, you're going to change over the course of the year, and you may find yourself growing apart from people you initially thought would be your life-long friends. Plus, even if you don't, it's great to have a lot of friends so if some of your friends are busy you'll have other friends to hang out with. Friendship is great, so go after it!

5. Try not to stress out too much.

Stressing out too much is pretty much my signature, so I'm not very good at taking this piece of advice. But calm down! College is great! You're going to have a good time! Hooray!

Anyway, it's summer now. Listen to the best song of the summer and try to enjoy your time before college!

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