Top Ten Freshman Year Survival Tips

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By Julia Marie

  1. Get to know the people on your floor if you’re living on campus.

When you first get to college, it can seem like a daunting task to have to make all new friends, but here’s something you might not have realized. The rooms surrounding you contain a whole group of people you are going to see everyday—maybe multiple times a day in the hallway, bathrooms, and lounges on your floor. Living in a dorm means living in a community, and there’s nothing worse than finding yourself awkwardly in the bathroom with the girl you didn’t bother to get to know. Befriending or at least being friendly with the people on your floor makes your dorm seem more like home, and less like a scary minefield of places you need to avoid, and who knows, you might even find some lifelong friends two doors down from you.

“It’s important to feel a sense of community wherever you go.”

  1. Get involved in at least one extracurricular activity.

I am a big believer in not spreading yourself too thin with multiple extracurriculars early on in college, but they’re a great way to get to network fast. It’s important to feel a sense of community wherever you go, and finding people with similar interests as you can be a great way to achieve that. We have plenty of clubs and groups that are constantly accepting new people. Even if you don’t like the organization you choose, you can always try another one until you find a niche that fits. Making connections and staying busy are too greatly important factors in staying happy and healthy throughout your first year of college; joining an extracurricular activity can be a great way to accomplish this.

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  1.  Take advantage school resources.

We all go to one of the greatest music schools in the world, so why wouldn’t we have state-of-the-art school resources? Well, we do. With multiple study areas and practice rooms, a library full of sheet music, and the Learning Center equipped with Finale, Pro Tools, Adobe Photoshop and so much more—you can find everything you need within five minutes of your bed. Since someone’s already paying for it, why not use what you have access to instead of scouring the internet for sheet music or MP3s, only using the school’s printers and the practice rooms. Berklee also offers seminars and individual tutoring sessions that teach you how to use software like Photoshop and Pro Tools, as well as having professionals in each area who are equipped to answer any questions you might have about the software. If you’re not a jazz musician, or you find yourself struggling with Arranging I or Ear Training, there are one-time core music help sessions and weekly tutor meetings available. Also, don’t be afraid of office hours! These are required for professors, so there’s no reason to not drop by to get extra help or just to chat about life. Teachers will remember your face, and building lasting relationships is what this school is all about.

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  1.  Eat breakfast!

Even if you have a nine a.m. class, there is no reason to not eat breakfast. Eating breakfast wakes your body up in a major way and helps you feel less groggy when you drag yourself out of bed and walk to class. Even eating a banana or a granola bar can wake up your digestive tract and get your blood flowing, not to mention the full range of health benefits from eating breakfast everyday! Drinking a glass of water when you first wake up will give your metabolism a jumpstart and help hydrate you throughout the day. Try and incorporate whole grains along with fresh fruits into your diet to maximize and sustain your energy.

  1. Focus on yourself.

When you first start college, it’s easy to feel like you need to meet everyone else’s expectations or that you need to impress everyone around you, but it shouldn’t be that way! College is all about figuring out who you are without the comfort of living in your parent’s home. For most, this is the first time you get to experience real independence and total freedom, but with great power comes great responsibility, and suddenly you may start feeling out of balance and alone. Remember not to worry what other people are doing and saying, if you stay busy and find healthy ways to relieve your stress, I promise you will be much happier.

  1. Attend the majors fair.

Yeah, yeah nobody goes to the majors fair (I know), but I’m telling you to go. You don’t need to pick your major your first semester in college, but knowing your options early on can really help once you’re starting to feel the pressure to decide. Make sure to consider all the majors here at Berklee before you make your final decision because you might be surprised what ends up interesting you after a few semesters. Don’t rule any options out because you think it might be too rigorous or because you feel like you aren’t good enough. Learning something brand new can be exciting, and sticking to what you already know well might not be worth the tuition.

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  1. Explore Boston.

In a new city, it’s easy to become trapped in the little bubble between your classes and your dorm (or off-campus residence). Sure, Supreme Pizza and T. House might seem like they never get old, but when you live in a city as historic and diverse as Boston, going to the same restaurants again and again is such a waste. Living in a city like Boston means accessible public transportation that can take you pretty much anywhere you want to go, so there’s no excuse to stay home all year. Go discover areas you never thought you’d visit, and ask Boston natives about places they know of to eat and explore. Boston can feel intimidatingly large when your first move here, but the more familiar you are with the city, the less scary it will seem.

  1. Don’t forget to groom yourself (including keeping your room clean).

Now that you don’t live with your parent or guardian, you don’t have anyone telling you to shower everyday or clean your room. Please don’t take that as an invitation to not do those things. Your new friends might not have the courage to tell you to put on some deodorant or that the fuzzy sweater on your teeth is seriously rank; you’ll just notice silent avoidance. Part of growing up and becoming a respectable independent person is knowing to vacuum every now and then and trying to do laundry at least every two or three weeks (sporting dirty underwear is inexcusable).

  1. Go to your academic counselor.

During your first semester at Berklee, it’s easy to forget that each and every one of us is on an academic grid that tells us what classes we need to take. Berklee chooses classes for you in the first semester, but that is the first and last time that they will do that. By going to your academic counselor before it’s time to register, you avoid the stress of choosing classes last minute on the day of your sign-up appointment, and you might get to choose classes you actually want to take.

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  1. Back up everything and save as you work!

There is nothing worse than finishing a project at three a.m. and then seeing your screen go black only to realize that your computer just crashed. A few good ways to make sure you never lose all your hard work is to backup all of your files on an external hard drive (or multiple drives). In the MP&E major, there’s a golden rule of three: always store everything important in at least three separate places at all times. Another more immediate way to backup individual files is to start using things like Google Drive, which you already have linked to your school email. You can store anything from pictures to word documents and sound files and take them wherever you go by downloading the app on any of your portable devices. Plus, if you use drive, you no longer have to email yourself class papers to print in the library, or carry around a USB drive. Check out this helpful resource on backing up your hard drive using Time Machine.

If you have any tips or freshman year testimonies, please comment down below!