Orientation week brings a sense of excitement and anticipation to the Amherst campus. First-years descend upon the quad and face a flurry of programming designed to prepare them for the next four years. In the spirit of orientation week, the Editorial board hopes to supplement a week dedicated to advice by offering the candid advice we wish we had received as first-years. Here are seven tips from people who have been in your shoes and only want to see you succeed as you begin to navigate life at Amherst.
1. You don’t need to know right now what your ultimate path will be.
There’s a reason you chose to attend a liberal arts school, and you should take full advantage of it. You don’t need to settle on a major right now and your major certainly does not dictate your career path. Study a variety of subjects that you find interesting, and take classes that challenge you and force you outside of your comfort zone. It could help you discover a passion you never even knew existed.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
A stigma surrounding asking for help persists at Amherst. There’s the perception that asking for help means you are weak or incapable. This could not be further from the truth. If you are struggling in a class, ask a peer or the professor for help. If you feel overwhelmed, reach out to one of our many support services for assistance. If you don’t know where your classroom is or get locked out of your dorm, ask a passerby. There are so many resources at Amherst, and many of them are your fellow students. We’ve all been the one who didn’t know the answer before and are more than willing to provide guidance.
3. Support your peers.
There are so many talented people at Amherst that work tirelessly outside of the classroom at their given passions. Whether it be cheering at a soccer game or swaying with the beat at an a cappella concert, make sure you get out to different events and support your fellow students. It’s incredible to see the diversity of talents our student body has to offer, and chances are your friends will return the favor when your own event comes up.
4. Give people a chance to surprise you.
It’s easy to settle into a small friend group, but don’t disregard someone until you truly make an effort to get to know them. You can choose to judge others based on appearances or other trivial qualities, but this choice limits your circle, cutting you off from potential connections. Take the time to provide everyone with the opportunity to surprise you, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with many of your interactions.
5. Your best knowledge will come from outside of the classroom.
The best conversations you have at Amherst likely won’t happen in Chapin 101. The moments spent talking with peers over dinner, between classes or up at 2 a.m. will be where some of your most important learning happens. Everyone at Amherst has a story to share and each one is worth listening to. Take the time to talk to your peers and push beyond the standard discussions about classes or extracurriculars. These will be the moments you truly remember.
6. Make time for yourself.
Life at Amherst is taxing. It’s crucial to take time to practice self care, however you are best comforted. Whether it be going to the gym, watching a few episodes on Netflix or drawing, recognizing when you need a break and actually taking it will only prove beneficial. Further, make sleep a priority. You might be able to survive on three hours of sleep for a couple nights, but it will inevitably catch up with you. Listening to your body and treating it well will make your time here all the more enjoyable.
7. Remember that you deserve to be here.
The next four years will inevitably bring feelings of fear, anxiety and doubt, but remember that you are on this campus for a reason and have earned every opportunity that comes your way. You bring a unique perspective and identity to this community and help to make it the special place that is. Bring your whole self to all that you do and remain confident in your abilities and what you have to offer.