Staff column: Albion do’s and don’ts

It is customary for the Pleiad to publish an advice column every fall semester, as new first-years arrive and make the same mistakes we all did when we first stepped foot in Albion.  In the name of progress, we have taken it upon ourselves to rid Albion of a few particular first-year afflictions like lanyards, as well as encourage upstanding habits like attending class and honing proper party skills.  Rather than just get the viewpoint of one writer, as  has been done in the past, each member of the Pleiad staff contributed their thoughts to this article.  For the official Albion Pleiad guide to freshman year, read on.

Jack Mattern, junior copy editor DON’T wear the lanyard or the ‘Briton in training’ shirt. Nothing screams”FIRST-YEAR” like the Albion College lanyard hanging around your neck while you sport the same shirt that everyone else got at SOAR.  You might think wearing the ‘Briton in training’ shirt is a cool way to show off school pride. You might think your neck is a convenient place to keep your ID and keys. I’m going to break this to you in the gentlest way possible: you’re wrong. Until a fashion designer tries to make “lost, oblivious, freshman” a cool look, don’t wear either of them. DO wear high school apparel. I know. You’re in college. You probably think that wearing anything mentioning your high school will get you exiled from everything ever. Well, I’m glad to inform you that wearing such clothing will actually help you make new friends. If somebody (upperclassmen included) sees that you’re from a school near their hometown, or that you played the same sport or joined the same clubs in high school as they did, the conversation that could begin a friendship is all but started.

Josh Van Laan, senior staff writer Congratulations! Look at you, you’re in college! It’s pretty exciting, I know. Really, college is the first time in your life you get to create a new identity, self-reflect without anyone else’s intervention, and discover who you are and who you want to be. It’s great. So now you have to ask yourself: what kind of person do you want to be? As a senior, I’ve seen a lot of students come into Albion and do some stupid stuff. The stupidest of all was a first-year who thought he’d try to act like a hard-ass around everyone and constantly reassured me that everything was, “chill bro.” Needless to say, this kid didn’t exactly flourish in social settings, and everyone saw right through him. College isn’t like high school. You don’t just go to classes with these people; you live, eat, and sleep with them. Don’t spend the next four years of your life trying to be someone you’re not, everyone will know right away, even the people you are trying to act like. So, do everyone, and most importantly yourself a favor, and just be yourself. Though Albion is small, it is an extremely welcoming environment, with groups ranging from a medieval society and an astronomy club, to an anime club, and a knitting group. Essentially, Albion will be accepting of you, as long as you’re accepting of yourself.

Hannah Litvan, senior features editor Push yourself out of your comfort zone. I came to Albion a quiet, shy and closed-off person. I never would have become the person I am today if I didn’t talk to people, attend events, join my Greek house, go to parties, or get a campus job. Those times of fear and discomfort were worth it to help me grow into a confident and prepared person who is ready to take on life after graduation.

Spencer White, senior editor-in-chief Albion is a truly unique school.  Not only is it unique for its history, its location, and its academic quality, it’s unique in that no other college combines the same level of faculty and staff support, organizational access, and in-depth personalization of education like Albion does.  No matter where you go, you will be hard-pressed to find a school that works as hard to give back the work you put into it as Albion does.  If you commit to an organization, group, or program, it will reward you with experience, contacts, leadership positions, and all sorts of other good résumé fodder.  Your connections from these places will get you jobs, opportunities, and generally improve your life.  If anything, my advice is: conquer Albion and make it yours.  It doesn’t have to be right away.  I didn’t even know what the Pleiad was when I was a first-year, and now I run it.  But know that if you put some of yourself into Albion, you’ll get a lot out of it.  More than you think.

Alex Carey, junior staff writer Albion may be a small campus, but there’s always fun stuff going on. Check your Campus Programs/Organizations email for a list of events for the week, take advantage of free Union Board events and go support your fellow Brits at sporting events. About 90 percent of the time, you will receive free Albion swag, spirit wear or free food. It’s a great way to get out of the dorms, spend time with friends and experience all that Albion has to offer. Try to branch out and attend some events you normally wouldn’t consider. Go to the next Umbrella House gathering, or attend a Brit Knits meeting; you never know what might interest you, and you’ll meet some cool people along the way. When you find something you like, join in! Participating and contributing are great ways to get the most out of the Albion College experience.  (Your professors also spout off all the time about cool events they’re interested in.  Listen to them!  -Ed.)

Emily Miller, sophomore staff writer For most students, the most drastic change from high school to college is living away from home and being packed into a tiny 12 by 12 room with another hopeful, hormonal, terrified  human whom they’re expected to live with for two semesters. Dorm living can be stressful and frustrating, especially if you don’t know your roommate well. When you go and fill out your roommate contracts, my advice is to be very specific about your likes and dislikes.  Don’t let your roommate walk all over you. Do you hate loud music after 9pm? Say something! Make sure you make your boundaries clear in terms of what upsets you and what doesn’t. That usually can solve most roommate conflicts, but remember to be flexible, since you’re not the only one living in the room. If your roommate wants to nap at two pm but you want to study, go to a friend’s room or to the library.  They have to feel comfortable in their own space too! Another real quick tip: invest in air fresheners.  Dorm rooms get much smellier than you’re used to, since there’s less ventilation, and you don’t want to be constantly surrounded by the odors of the person living two doors over.

Jennifer McDonell, junior staff writer One of the most useful lessons I have learned in my two years of attending Albion is that you should utilize your professors and the career development staff to help you bolster your résumé and find job connections. It is important to start these relationships in your freshman year.  As you begin to branch out and meet different professors and study different fields, it will be helpful for you to have them. Making connections with the faculty and staff at Albion has made my college experience worthwhile, and is a real validation of your time at college. Don’t screw over your relationship with a professor: attending classes might seem frivolous your freshman year but we go to a small enough school to where you are really wasting a professor’s and your classmates’ time if you don’t attend.  Plus, the upside of a possibly lifelong friendship with a professor is so great, that the few hours out of your day are really worth it.

Caio Lampert, senior staff writer Advice to first-years: I would just say appreciate every single day that you’re on Albion’s campus. As a senior, my days of being a college kid are coming to an end, which is nerve-racking, because I can’t imagine not coming back next year, and the real world can’t be better than what I’ve experienced here. So join clubs, go to class, make new best friends, find something you love to do while you’re at Albion, and I guarantee you will have the best four years of your life on this beautiful campus. Appreciate each and every day because, before you know it, this will all be over and you’re going to be worrying about your mortgage and credit card payments, instead of being a college kid.

Chel-C Ford, sophomore staff writer When I was a first-year, I wish someone would have told me about the Learning Support Center (LSC). During the second semester of my first year, I found myself struggling with my classes, and trying to balance everything I was doing. I made an appointment with the LSC director, Dr. Pamela Schwartz, to figure out a way to improve my situation. I took a brief test to find out the type of learning style that best fit me. Afterwards, we worked together to develop a new study plan and way to approach each subject. Thanks to my newly developed study plan, the remainder of my second semester went smoothly. Even though I went to the LSC during my second semester, I’m happy I went because now I know what study methods work best for my learning style.

So there you have it, Albion, the collective wisdom of the Pleiad staff.  Use  it wisely.  If you have your own advice to contribute, please sound off in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

Photo by Alex Carey

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