Dear First-Years: Take Initiative by Jenna Nicodemus

by Jenna Nicodemus (Managing Editor)

When I was a first-year, taking initiative seemed daunting. I have always been shy, and I arrived at Centre knowing absolutely nobody. However, I managed to find an amazing friend group not even halfway through my first semester, and I was able to stay on top of my classes, too. And the best part? It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had originally thought.

You must take initiative in all of your college endeavors. It’s not like high school anymore: you must seek out your own opportunities rather than waiting for them to appear by themselves. You reap what you sow, after all. With that in mind, here are some tips to make sure you’re sowing good fruit:

  1. Being organized and prepared is a responsible use of your freedom. Having your obligations organized ensures that you will never have to rummage through your things and can spend that time elsewhere. Of course, “organization” can look different for a lot of people, so you have to find what works best for you. Personally, I always have a file of my schedule for the next two weeks and keep my assignments tidy in folders (both physical and digital).

2. Get out of your dorm room. You will focus on homework better elsewhere, trust me. Besides, getting out of your dorm comes with extra benefits: meeting new people, familiarizing yourself with the campus, etc. While you are freely exploring the campus, you will feel more in control and find it easier to take initiative in all sorts of things.

3. Get involved on campus. Your orientation and FYC help a lot with this, but just to re-emphasize: clubs and sports (as well as your own classes and dorm hall) are great spaces for making connections. If I had to recommend a number, I would say stick to 3 “active” extracurriculars for freshmen year, i.e., activities that actively take up your time. You’re still figuring out your own limitations, so it’s better not to bite off more than you can chew.

4. Take care of yourself. Bridging off of #3, remember that the most successful people are those who accommodate their own limitations, not those who accommodate outside of them. Self-care requires initiative, too. Remember to rest and give your brain a break, lest you overwork yourself into burnout. Your well-being is more important than your academics and extracurriculars.

5. Be prepared to feel overwhelmed. You might find this to be a bit counterintuitive, but it’s actually an open-minded perspective. If you’re prepared to be unprepared, you will not only be less blindsided by it all, but you will be self-aware enough to know when to ask for help. The reason this works is because you’re not alone. Everyone is in the same boat as you – and I promise all your advisors, mentors, and professors want to help!

Though there are many new aspects of college as a first-year, the initiative mindset ensures that you approach these changes, rather than letting the changes sneak up on you. Be sure to use your freedom wisely and safely as you prepare for your future!

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