Advice to Freshmen

(Photo courtesy: mayacade.wordpress.com)

By Maya Cade, Special To The Hilltop
Posted 9:00 PM EST, Mon., Sept. 5, 2016

Freshmen: Let me keep it real 100—Your life is about to change. You’re a Bison now. Let me also be really honest when I say that I’m only typing this letter to you now because I did not graduate in four years. (I’m an expected December graduate.)

But you don’t have to be like me, there are four keys to success that you need to be great.

First, visit your advisor at least each semester. You’ve probably heard this throughout orientation week and brushed it off but it’s true. It is important that you become familiar with your advisor—they should know not only your name but also your face. A major part of the ‘Howard finesse’ is being helped by people who recognize you.

Also, don’t be in a rush to do anything. During my freshman year I was in a rush to ‘discover myself.’ In retrospect, it was a silly idea. As Howard students and human beings we are constantly evolving and each year at Howard I discovered more about *myself* without trying. Don’t be in a rush to change as it often happens organically. I don’t want to be the one to crush your #relationshipgoals but a Howard romance, while nice, is unlikely. You also may not be with your current bae forever and that’s okay too.

More, call home!! Call home when you’re happy. Call home when you’re sad. FaceTime your mom or dad when you miss your dog. Skype your sibling when you feel an empty feeling you can’t explain. Call your best friends to ask them about their post-high school experiences. (I promise not everything can be explained via text.) It’s okay to miss home–don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And don’t put on a front for your parents. The college experience is tough. They understand.

Finally, understand that the Howard Experience goes beyond the classroom. Some of my fondest Howard memories were not made in the classroom. Many of them were on the benches on the yard, in the halls of the Smithsonian and the hallways of my freshman dorm. Branch out. Do something new and realize that your experiences are shaped in and out of the classroom. There are free things that you can do (and a bunch are listed in this issue!)

That’s it. Be great. The world is yours.