10 Things I Wish I Had Known as a Cornell Freshman


TIA HERE with a little advice for all you upcoming Cornell freshmen. Compiled from things I've learned as a senior (class of 2016, woo!) and what my friends wish they'd known, here's my list of ten things I wish I'd known as a freshman at Cornell:
  1. Check your DUST Report. It tells you what credits you've gotten, what requirements you've gone through, and everything you could ever possibly want to know. Google it, cherish it, and survive because of it.
  2. Start your major classes early. If you know what you want to major in, don't wait to start taking those classes. You may discover your major doesn't suit you. Or, if you're like me, you'll realize it's harder to do things like an honors thesis and get letters of recommendation if you haven't interacted enough with professors relevant to your future path. Don't put it off and think you're doing a good thing by getting other classes out of the way! Prioritize these.
  3. Always keep in touch with professors (and other connections, too). LinkedIn is your friend. Seriously. After you talk to someone, email them within 24 hours and then add them on LinkedIn within 24 hours of their reply. Connections make the working world go round, and giving them up isn't good for your economic health! Don't be a job-digger about it, but keep things friendly, honest, and full of genuine effort. You will be meeting amazing people, so treasure them as thus.
  4. Rain boots are not just convenient—they're a necessity. This also goes for raincoats. And when it snows, have something to cover your head. Water and snow are the cruel kings of Ithaca, and you must prepare to brave them or prepare instead to deal with constant sickness and misery. Wearing wet socks is like standing in two, tiny cold puddles all day long. It sucks.
  5. Take risks and be fearless. I'm not talking about the party scene—in that kind of situation, you should be sensible. But I am talking about joining clubs. If you love to sing in secret, now is the time to stop hiding—don't wait. College is only four years long for the typical undergrad, so dive in headfirst and embrace every single opportunity. The rewards are endless and the amount you learn about yourself is invaluable.
  6. Don't take any classes earlier than 10:10, if you can avoid it. Why would you ever do this? Do you hate sleep? Or good health? Anything earlier than 10:10 better be a required class, because no topic is so interesting that taking it before 10 would not ruin it for you forever.
  7. Work during the semester, if you have the time. If you can pick up a virtual internship or take on a paying job, do it. Having experience and money is amazing, and not to be trifled with. You probably got into this school thanks to endless multitasking in high school, so don't quit now! It'll help you get jobs and internships later or at least some spending money.
  8. Experiment with schedule types. Maybe the typical 9-to-5 class schedule doesn't suit your work ethic. Try taking a 10 a.m. class, followed by a 7 p.m. class. Take Fridays off or have long Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Don't be afraid to get weird with your hours if you have the option because (not to be ominous but...) you'll probably never have that kind of freedom again. Okay, sorry, but let's be real: The working world runs by patterns, and if you ever want to experiment outside of normal hours of work, do so now. And don't forget to eat either. I'm a fan of the long lunch, myself.
  9. Make it your goal to speak on the first day of classes. If you speak on the first day of classes, you are basically guaranteed to participate more as the semester continues. Once you jump that first hurdle, the rest start to seem pretty small. And participation is a very real percentage in seminar classes.
  10. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Talk to career services! Go to office hours and bug your TA. Don't fail because you were too afraid to bother someone. Bother away! It's their job and if you're not bothering them, then someone else will be anyway. So it might as well be you. That's right: Call me inspirational!
Short and sweet, that's that for my advice. Have anything to add about what you've learned? Let me know in the comments below. Good luck, kids, and don't forget to have fun. People say it all the time, but college really is the best time of your life (or at least the best I've had so far). Live every moment and make every friend. They'll last for years to come.

For more, check out Tia's new blog!

Much love,

T.