Welcome, Wake Forest Class of 2023, to one of the most pivotal transitions of your life. You will face yawning uncertainties every day, and while the newness of college life is exciting, being in complete control of your own social life, academic schedule and eating and sleeping habits for the first time can be intimidating.
While three years have passed since I prepared to move into my room on the third floor of Bostwick and meet my roommate, I acutely remember the apprehension and anticipation that I felt in the autumn of 2016.
Now that six semesters in the Forest have flown by, here are some words of advice that I wish I heard when I was just starting out.
Go to class
It seems obvious, but it stands repeating: you need to go to class. Even if your professors don’t take attendance, they’re smart, and they know exactly who shows up and who does not. Plus, while simply completing assignments may have been good enough to secure a passable grade in high school, it just isn’t sufficient to do well in high-standards classes at Wake Forest.
You should also do the reading, but even if you haven’t (we’ve all been there), you still need to go to class — strange and wonderful things happen in class discussions, and no matter what, you’ll benefit from your classmates’ insight. Your professors are world-class, and you’re here to get an education. Soak up every drop of their expertise that you can.
Try a little of everything
One of the best ways to feel at home at Wake Forest is to immerse yourself in activities outside of class. Getting out of your dorm room or the library is critical for you to thrive academically and socially. Don’t worry about spreading yourself too thin — attend the fall Involvement Fair and sign up for the email listservs of every organization that catches your eye. I promise, you really aren’t committing anything by signing up, and you can give lots of activities the so-called “old college try” and see what sticks. No matter your interests or passions, I assure you that you will find a group of students who share them. Heck, I’m even on a team that participates in competitions to recommend Federal Reserve monetary policy actions.
College is a grown-up world
College is a big and complex place, and there’s no use sugarcoating it — you and your friends may find yourselves facing challenges that are far more grown-up, confusing, complicated and just plain difficult to handle than you faced in high school. On the topic of drinking: like on most campuses, it is rampant at Wake Forest. Be smart and safe, look out for your friends and never get behind the wheel of a car drunk or with someone who is intoxicated. Don’t trust a friend who says they’re sober enough to drive. In addition, many students will start their first sexual relationships in college. Get tested, use protection and know that respect, trust and informed, enthusiastic consent are of paramount importance. Finally, mental health is just as important as physical health. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Over the next few months, you’ll learn more in and out of the classroom than you probably ever have in your life. You’re in for an exhilarating, frustrating, eye-opening, stressful, fun adventure. I only wish that I could start it all over again.