Culture staff recommends: Tips to survive your first year of college

Culture Staff

Welcome, first-year UVM students. Your frantic feelings will soon settle, we promise, but to help get you there, here are some tips on how to start feeling more at home in this green and gold world. 

Say hi to people on campus — Maya Surrenti

Meeting new people in college can be intimidating. My advice is to always wave to people you know on campus, maybe even stop and chat. It can be really easy to get comfortable with one group of friends and stop branching out. 

College is an important time for making contacts. Connect with people in your classes, make time for friends on different campuses and embrace the awkward small talk. 

You never know who will be able to get you into a certain party or bar, who might have a car or be a good connection that could help with jobs and internships. Take advantage of the number of cool people on UVM’s campus and branch out.

Take advantage of the free first-year stuff — Will Hamilton

Though this is not necessarily a survival tip per se, I believe it’s important enough to mention—take advantage of the free stuff. Most people who decide to transfer will do so at the end of their first year, and UVM knows this. 

Particularly during orientation and the first few weeks after, you’ll be bombarded by events boasting various activities and free items, ranging from gift cards to t-shirts to strange Rally Cat paraphernalia. 

Take advantage of that stuff while you can, as when UVM knows they no longer have to beg for you to stay, you’ll never see opportunities quite like it again. 

Also, more seriously, the first few weeks of college can be a strange time socially, especially if you’re coming from far away. The UVM events can be corny, but they’re a good place to start meeting others. 

While it doesn’t always feel like it, you’re treated well as a first-year, so do your best to capitalize on it. 

Be mindful — Grace Wang

Congratulations, you made it through high school, and now you’re leaving home. It is time to embark on this new chapter of your education. However, college comes with much more than just getting a degree. 

Doors are now open to entirely new ways of living and learning. I was full of excitement and nerves when I was in your shoes. The next four years, or however many it takes, can be whatever you make of them. But first, you must get started. 

If I could tell myself one thing before coming to UVM, it would be this: know that you are coming into this space with your own set of preconceived notions about how the world works and everyone else is as well. 

Be mindful of where people come from and respect their time and space. We all have things to work through and are all here to learn. Give people that space to grow. Compassion and understanding can take you a long way. 

Beat the dining system — Maggie Swanborn 

My best advice to first-years is to switch to the “Flex Plan” for dining. If you stay with the “All Access” meal plan, you will slowly begin to hate everything and everyone as you are forced to go to a dining hall for every meal. 

The Flex Plan gives you slightly more variety in meal choice. However, it’s important to spend retail points wisely. There is a meal plan balance card on the UVM Dining website that can help you track points and swipes. 

Save points by using a meal exchange at the Marketplace or Marché, hitting Central for lunch or even taking a walk to Trinity for some variety and an ice cream sandwich. Most importantly: don’t sleep on New World Tortilla.  

It’s okay if it doesn’t feel right, right away — Ashna Hille

Ah, college. The time when you’re academically inspired, having an awesome time going out with your shiny new college friends and just having the overall time of your life. 

This is often not the reality for your first few weeks or even months at college, and that is okay. 

It’s easy to think you’re alone in this, being bombarded with Instagram posts from friends with their “BFFs” that they just met the past week, but I guarantee you, you are not alone.

If you feel like college is not living up to your expectations, make a change: join a club, try a class outside of your comfort zone, take advantage of the outdoors or get a job. You’ll never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll discover that you love doing. 

You’re paying to be at this school, so make the most of it. And if things really aren’t feeling right—transfer. It’s totally okay if you don’t get it right the first time. That’s what I did and I couldn’t be happier after making the switch.