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Kelleen Cullison

Making the Most of Your First Year

by Kelleen Cullison | Sep 23, 2016

One of the biggest of my fears my first few days of college was looking like a freshman, and I wasn’t alone. All up and down my hall, whispers and complaints about new student activities and schedules could be heard through open doors (because everyone keeps their doors open in Garver, duh. Only a 1st year wouldn’t know that). All around me was pressure to stay away from optional events and from organized ice breaker activities, for fear of looking like the new kid.

My advice? Embrace being a new kid, while you still can. First years are expected to be absolutely clueless, so take the learning opportunities while they’re being handed to you! Maybe make a fool of yourself, show up to class just a bit too early, ask a lot of questions. Figure it out now while it’s socially acceptable to be clueless. I guarantee most of the upperclassmen navigating campus like they own the place stumbled about just like you a few years ago. As for those of you who’d like some assurance before leaving the safety of the dorm, here’s what I’ve learned by venturing out onto campus.

  1. Go to the Events, and Arrive Early

The Manchester’s Activity Council puts on so many events it’s ridiculous. In the past few weeks I’ve been here, there's been a Graffiti Party, a Glow Rage Party, and a movie shown on the school mall. Go, and enjoy the events put on for you. And get there early, because although there’s room for everyone at these events, there are always t-shirts. And it’s first come first serve.

     2. Keep Doors Open

Metaphorically, and literally. If you’re feeling isolated or like you're on the sidelines, open up your door for a while. There are people who will say hi when they pass by, or stop to check out your room, and to meet you as well. Warning; the open door does say to some people, just come on in (although it’s rare), and also lets in the noise from the hall. I don’t suggest trying this when you’re trying to study or nap.

   3. Your Dorm is Not the Ideal Study Spot

Think of your dorm as an apartment building. You are renting a room there, but so are a lot of other people. These other people are also paying for the right to do whatever they want (within reason) in their dorm. The difference between a dorm and an apartment building is that if you don't like your neighbors in the apartment, you can choose to lease elsewhere. With dorms, you get what you get, and you’re expected to make it work for the semester.

Studying is frustrating enough without the added stressor of other people. Take your books to a cafe or the library. Manchester’s Funderburg Library has special study rooms just for this purpose. There are three floors of separate tables and chairs to work by yourself or with a group. Get comfortable studying there, so you can just get plain comfortable back in the dorm.

   4. You Have Food Options

There are meal plan options that extend beyond the JYSC. You can use your card at Wilbur’s and the Oaks on a meal plan, without having to use your flex bucks. However, if you want certain items, or something from Ssisters, you’ll have to use flex or cold hard cash.

 5. There is No Way to do College Wrong

Manchester gives you opportunities to go to events, and sporting games, and clubs, but it’s up to you to decide which ones you want to be a part of, or if you want to be a part of them at all. If you want to go to all the football games, or stay in and watch Netflix, join seven different clubs, or spend your free time studying, that’s totally up to you!

These are your college days, and you get to experience them however and whichever way you decide!


Kelleen Cullison ’20 is pursuing an English major and minors in Journalism and Peace Studies. She hopes to work as an editor for a publishing company, and hopes to help current and prospective Manchester students avoid the mistakes she is currently making.