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Open Letter to First-Years and Transfer Students


Open Letter to First-Years and Transfer Students


Welcome to Southwestern University, home of the Pirates and students who are so stressed out, they forget to eat.

I’m not kidding.

This is my third year here at SU, and I’m here to share some wisdom I’ve gleaned over the years. It’s not all encompassing, but hopefully it will help.

My work has increased exponentially since freshman year (for non-math people, I have a lot of stuff to do and almost not enough time to finish it). First, it was figuring out how to study for classes in subjects I could breeze through in high school that were no longer so breezy. It’s more like a hurricane. Or a tornado. Both? Yeah, it’s both at the same time.  

My advice? Studying at least an hour or two every night, at least on the weekdays, is probably the best way to stay on top of your classwork and study needs. Reading ahead also isn’t a bad idea, especially for you science students. I was a science major. Want to know how I got an A in Organic Chemistry? Read ahead! Always know the material the teacher is going to lecture beforehand! Take notes while reading, write down questions, ask them during or after class, and review your notes after class. This goes for any major. It’s not about how smart you are, it’s about how smart you work. If you have an assignment due, finish it ahead of time. Start writing that paper at least a day or two before it’s due, not 5 hours before the midnight deadline. Been there, done that, not fun. The way to keep work from piling up is to be consistent in your studying, even if it is just 2 hours a day (I said at least 2 before because ideally you should be studying 3 to 4 hours a day. The gauge for how many hours a week you ideally should be studying is based on your credits. For every credit, expect roughly 2-3 hours of work. Have 12 credits? Expect 24-36 hours of work a week. That’s about 3-5 hours a day, including weekends).

Southwestern knows when your life is just about at a point where you think have got a handle on things. That’s when you start to either join Student Organizations, take a leadership position in an organization, start working, or all three, like yours truly. SU has a way of making you think you have a lot of free time, so you think it would be awesome to join this or sign up for that. Then when you have to start actually getting things done, you start to wonder if you are feeling sick. Maybe you have a sudden family or personal thing? A lot of homework piling up?

Yeah, we know.

It’s cool though, because there are a lot of awesome organizations to join and a lot of activities to do on campus! It’s hard to pick between them. Especially if you are thinking of rushing in a fraternity or a sorority. Greek life can be quite time consuming.

Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t have the time or energy to do something. If you can’t do it, you can’t do it. If you need to study, you need to study. If you need time to do nothing but watch Netflix and eat chips, do it. If you need time to hang out with your friends, do so. Prioritize your time. You don’t owe any organization or anyone anything. If something is important to you, make time for it, and say no if you need to.

I say this with a caveat. I can’t tell you how annoying it is when someone says they are going to do something and then they end up not doing it. If you are an officer for a position, don’t stay in that position if you don’t have the time. Saying no doesn’t mean you get to say yes to the title and then say no to the work. Don’t say you are going to be a part of an organization, or that you can be an officer of an organization if you don’t have the time and end up not fulfilling your responsibilities later. Any organization would love to have you as a member, but it doesn’t benefit anyone if only 5% of you is there. Stick to maybe one or two organizations/jobs. Your grades and/or health could start suffering if you don’t. I’ve seen some people that are able to juggle 5 things and still get really good grades. Honestly, I’d say that’s more an exception than a rule. If you think you can, then go for it, but I’m warning you, not all of us are that organized.

This open letter really only addressed academics and some extracurricular activities. Hopefully, if these tips are effective, you’ll have time left over for fun and parties and sports and anything else you’re interested in, on or off campus. Study smart, party hard, and remember: beer before liquor, never sicker, liquor before beer, in the clear!