(1) Find something to do with your extra summer month.
Most college freshman orientations happen in August. Never content to be merely the norm, Northwestern begins in September. And you may not have thought about this too hard, but it’s going to be a long, lonely month without your friends once they’ve left for college, and hanging out at your old high school will only amuse you for so long. See if you can do something creative or interesting with your ‘extra’ month-a temporary part-time job you might otherwise not have tried, or volunteer work, or a little mini-vacation.
(2) Attend the New Student Week events. Even the ones that sound lame.
If hypnotist Tom DeLuca shows up, get tickets. Quick.
(3) Especially the Activities Fair. Which sounds especially lame.
But the best way to make friends is to find people with similar interests, and the activities fair in the Norris center is the place to go, whether you’re into a cappella, sports, theatre, student films, travel or… well, something less traditional. (Live-action role-playing games, anyone?)
(4) Budget your time for the quarter system.
More classes in less time-typical Northwestern, right? The short quarters as opposed to longer semesters mean you’ll need to keep a closer watch on your time than some of your other college buddies. Just be organized about it and you’ll be fine.
(5) Use Reading Week to your advantage.
Chances are your high school never had a week largely without classes where you were left to your own academic devices. Watch out that you don’t fall into a trap. Your correspondent had an unhealthy habit of playing “Diablo II” all through Reading Week during his freshman year, because he did not handle his new responsibility well.
(6) The P/N system is your friend.
Northwestern is quite generous with taking courses under this pass/fail system. You don’t get any prizes at graduation for unused P/Ns, so don’t be afraid to use one or two this year while you find your academic footing.
(7) Complain to your friends about your homework.
This is a very Northwestern method of socialization and regularly leads to group bonding. Especially when discussing organic chemistry, which appears to swallow 98% of NU students and spit out the remains.
(8) See shows.
Northwestern has a near-legendary theatre department, facilities to see cheap movies both recent and classic, an endless procession of speakers, and, of course, the old college standby of a cappella groups. You won’t get better deals for good culture outside of school, and you came to the right place for the arts, so dig in.
(9) Read “The Daily”.
“The Daily Northwestern” is a quality paper available all over campus for free, and making it part of your lunchtime ritual will make you feel both smart and quintessentially collegiate. It also makes a great resource for crossword puzzles. Tear the puzzle out before you actually go to class for extra stealth factor.
(10) Everything you have heard about the snow is true.
If you come from a place where it does not snow, be prepared. If you come from a place where it snows but you think you can handle it because you’re used to that, look up actual statistics in terms of inches and frequency before allowing your hubris to get the best of you.
Northwestern is a great place and no matter what happens there are so many ways to make the most of your freshman year. Dig in, just don’t forget to hit the books… on occasion. And don’t get addicted to “Diablo II”. Seriously.