The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

On the amazing first-year experience

Perhaps the most hectic and unpredictable time in life is the first week of college.

Being tossed into a new academic environment and expected to succeed, have a social life and get enough sleep is the “bermuda triangle” of the college experience.

But that’s okay. You’re lucky that there’s a seasoned group of undergraduates willing to illuminate the do’s and dont’s of UVM culture.

A major part of this experience is being honest with yourself. Don’t brag about your high school GPA. It doesn’t matter anymore. In fact, you can tell everyone you finished with a 3.6 and nobody would know.

Great, you took six AP courses. You’ll quickly learn that intelligence is a diverse word and, honestly, nobody cares if you’re “technically a second-semester first-year”.

Don’t call it “Burly”. It’s not a thing. Same goes with “B-Town” and other such nonsense which, if uttered, will out you as someone with whom few people will want to associate. Also, be really skeptical when someone says they’re from “just outside of Boston”.

Yeah, it’s a big city but if you actually live in southern New Hampshire, come on. We made a map to give those with spatial difficulties some guidance.Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 11.15.55 PM

In all seriousness, here is some solid advice. You and only you are ultimately in control of your future. Take risks. Realize that success is relative.

If the expectations of you are too much, or too little, set your own. Talk to your professors. The vast majority of them actually care about you. Be sure to join as many clubs as you can fit into your schedule.

You’ll make friends in your dorm, sure, but some of your best friendships come from your extracurriculars. The experience is also important.

Walking away with a degree in civil engineering is great, but employers may like to see that you were a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers building steel bridges for their annual competition.

In that same vein, be sure to join the Cynic if you have any interest in writing, editing, design, business, photography or video.

Take up skiing, if you don’t already. Burlington has very little to offer when it’s below 20, aside from obscene amounts of Netflix consumption. Skiing is a stark exception.


Visit your professor’s office hours on the off chance you receive a poor grade on an exam. Walk to his or her office and say, “I’m not worried about my grade, but I just want to learn the material and what I can do better.”

Then, watch that sweet, sweet participation grade skyrocket. Checkmate, professor Gullible.

Over the course of this first year, don’t put on a face. Meeting friends that will stay with you long past your time here is not only possible, it’s common.

Those people should be meeting the real you. There’s no good reason to deny them that. Stay curious. Ask questions. There is no downside. Other than getting annoying with it, ask as many questions as you can.

By the time four years is up, you’ll know more about the world than you have any business knowing…smartass.

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On the amazing first-year experience