I know, I know – I'm giving advice to not give advice.
But what I mean is that as upperclassmen, we shouldn't just dump all of our life wisdom on new students. And new students – even if the advice is coming from your favorite Northwestern student, don't believe everything you hear.
Someone once told me that, during Wildcat Welcome, I should introduce myself to as many people as possible because it's a great way to make friends. So, being the innocent and easily malleable freshman that I was, I started sitting with random strangers at the dining halls and making conversation with students at class.
I ended up never interacting with those people again, except for when I awkwardly hid from them on Sheridan.
Maybe this is great advice for some people, but for me it didn't work at all. I wish I had spent that time getting to know people in my dorm or clubs – people that I actually still talk to – instead of people who happened to look friendly on a given day.
People also tell you not to worry about registration, but that CAESAR will ruin your life. They tell you not to feel pressured to drink in college, and then tell you their favorite alcohol combinations. They say to try as many new activities as you can because college is the one time in you can explore and then they tell you to make sure that you limit your activities or you’ll be too stressed.
So freshmen: What do you do? After all, you probably want some of that advice. You’ve never done a year of Northwestern – you’re bound to have some questions. Well, I think the most important thing to do is just accept that you’re probably going to make some bad decisions. But sometimes that’s the only way to find out what does and doesn’t work for you.
You can hear all the pros and cons about taking five classes from all the right people, but at the end of the day (rather, the end of the quarter) only you can judge whether or not that worked for you. Seriously, what do we even know; we just met you last week! Chances are that you really can make your own decisions, without any of our upperclassmen wisdom – even if that’s a little bit scary.
But if you really do like advice, here’s a tip: take it from someone who’s similar to you. Here’s a small-scale example: Someone I knew my freshmen year told me Fisk Hall to Kellogg School of Management was a 2-minute walk. Except I think that person is insane or the fastest walker in the world, because I’ve tried numerous times and it’s just not possible.
Likewise, take advice about academics from someone who seems to learn at the same pace as you, or take partying advice from someone who has the same views on the whole drinking thing. It may take a while to find these people, but when you do, you’ll know their advice is golden.
And upperclassmen – don’t overwhelm freshmen with advice, even if they’re asking. A simple question like “Can I double major in Medill?” doesn’t need hundreds of responses. Think about the fact that freshmen are listening to parents, friends, siblings, PAs, CAs and more. It’s a lot to take in and they’re going to figure things out eventually anyways.
Let them bring too many t-shirts or struggle with four classes or use the Weekly 14 when the Block Plan is clearly superior. They will learn what works for them as the year goes on, just like we all did.