This is an excerpt from the Daily’s 2014 Orientation Issue. To read the rest of the issue, click here.

Dear Freshmen,

There are a million tips I could give you. East Quad dining hall cookies suck compared to North Quad or Mojo. Do your laundry more than once a month. Call your mom definitely more than once a month. Write down your homework.

But really, the two important things you should know is that college is about changing and learning.

Change in a way that makes you happy. If throughout high school you and your three best friends wore Abercrombie to school everyday, but you secretly just wanted to trash your Uggs for Doc Martens and purple jeans, this is your time. (If you’re in the reverse situation — you secretly wanted to wear Abercrombie — I really have nothing to say to you.) There’s no excuse to be who you always have been.

Get out of your comfort zone. Find out what makes you happy and do those things without apology.

And maybe you don’t know what makes you happy. That’s okay too — college is the time in your life to learn the most that you can.

A lot of incoming freshmen associate college with two things: studying your ass off and drinking/smoking/making out with sweaty humans. Also, becoming best friends with your roommate the moment you make eye contact on move-in day, clutching Target sheets and desk lamps.

Obviously good grades and parties are lovely. But there’s more to life than studying, and there’s more to life than cheap pot.

In the two years I’ve been here, the courses I’ve taken have taught me fascinating things. My writing has vastly improved. Though I’ve stuck with my history major, I’ve gone from an interest in medieval studies to modern Korean history. And outside of that, my toe has been dipped in a medley of other pools of knowledge. It’s a grand time.

I will say this: it’s more valuable to lay in the Diag with your best friends on the first sunny day of spring than go to ECON 101 lecture. It’s also more valuable to pay attention to econ than to Facebook-stalk your ex-boyfriend’s mom. It’s basically more valuable to do anything ever than go on Facebook.

Remember, you’re paying to take these courses. Don’t waste your parents’ money on taking classes that don’t excite you.

And as for partying — go for it. Do stupid things that will make hilarious stories later. But there are other things to do in college besides drinking and stroking the genitals of randos. If you find that you’re a student by day and Crystal Palace fiend by night and not much else, do join a club or pick up a book. You’re probably not going to get another chance outside these four years to play broomball, talk to a brilliant professor during office hours or walk around Ann Arbor as a student.

The first week, month or even year may or may not completely suck for you. I didn’t befriend anyone in my upperclassman-dominated hall, and my learning community wasn’t very cohesive in my experience. I also spent the majority of orientation tweeting as the angsty teenager I was in high school (and sometimes still am). But I met my closest friends in class, on The Michigan Daily and even befriended my sorority girl roommate. I would recommend, though, engaging people when you can. You’re eventually going to whittle your friend group down to a select few, but it’s difficult to find that select few if you don’t talk to anyone.

There’s a college stereotype I like to picture — the girl who comes home to her suburban parents with pink hair and a nose ring. Even if your hair never resembles cotton candy, you can still reinvent yourself and do whatever you please. Get funding for a start-up, strike up a conversation with the stud muffin next to you on the Bursley-Baits bus. My hope is that you’ll cast aside — if you haven’t already — that belief that you’re average. You can do anything you want at Michigan. You just have to shut off that little voice that’s telling you to wear Abercrombie, not talk to new people and look at pictures of kittens in cereal boxes instead of studying.

Sincerely,

Rachel Premack
Senior News Editor

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