What exactly are you getting into?

Masses of new students have come to the University bearing mini-fridges, white boards and dry-erase pens that will soon be stolen. Their faces joyfully light up at the sight of University Avenue on a Saturday night. Through orientation programs, we welcome them to what the next few years of their lives will look like. But what exactly are we welcoming them to? Will they only resent us in the end?

Will they get to experience the independence of living away from home, the opportunity to plan and unfold their future and the forum of free speech present at college? Living in this expansive city provides unlimited occasions of learning, growing and living a life completely disconnected from your former. The process of door-to-door introductions in the dorms is a first step in choosing who you will be and whom you will associate with. Unlike any other time in our lives, we have the chance to change ourselves and others. We can finally choose, by ourselves, the direction of our lives.

Will they find themselves discovering University Dining Services food, doing their own laundry and living with the many responsibilities once handled by their parents? The daily grind and stresses of life weigh heavily on undergrads, and especially first years who are unaccustomed to the new pace. The first year of college is one in which growth, excitement and confusion are most present. I would do anything to have the year back, just as ignorant as I was the first time. Living a new life, including all the faults of reality, is only worth the mistakes being made. Without them, life is incomplete.

Looking back on what I learned in my first year, I recommend involvement, a positive and open outlook and hard work to new students. Work hard in classes and jobs, but also work hard at making new friends and enjoying all the free time you can. We can only escape reality for so long; pretty soon, we will all have to face additional stresses and a world without the safety net provided by the University. College is the time to not only depend on the safety net, but to learn how to make your own.