• February 5, 2021 |

    dear first years,

    advice from two graduating seniors

    article by , , illustrated by

    You know, you could ask your Meik some of these questions, but that requires effort, which is in pretty short supply right now among all of us. Luckily for you, as we’ve gradually become frail elderly senior(citizen)s, we’ve become more happy to share our knowledge, and much less happy to do our readings. Here is our brief take on a couple of the major questions that you might be facing right now (some serious, some less so). 


    On Course Selection:

    The most useful lesson I’ve ever learned was that I don’t need to be miserable all of the time, and that’s an important one to internalize. There is so much great stuff to be learned at Brown, and 95 percent of it is learned outside of the classroom. Once it is safe, be sure to spend time with others, but also to be comfortable with yourself. Messing up basic algebra will always be there for you, whether now or in the workplace, but you will soon realize how fleeting and fantastic this time at college is.


    Useful brief notes for first-year students (and really anyone):

    If it seems unnecessarily hard, go S/NC. 

    Patience pays off: If you don’t initially get into a class, hang around, reach out to the professor, and stress how much you really want to take the class. Chances are if you stick around you might get into the class after all. 

    Will you get into VISA 0100? Probably not, but keep trying. 

    If you get into LITR classes, take the spot. You’ll more likely than not never see that registered checkmark ever again (unless you’re a LITR concentrator). 


    Some brief notes on taking five classes:

    Do not take five please owo

    When you take five, please do not only take STEM classes or do not take five with a language or more than two real STEM classes.

    When you take all five STEM classes, please consider dropping a class if it gets to be too much. 

    And remember to reach out and ask for support. And we can not stress this enough: four is a normal course load for a reason. BROWN IS HARD. 


    On Your First Midterm: 

    You probably will not do as well as you hoped. That’s okay. College is hard and everyone is struggling. College moves fast, you’ll probably be caught off guard by how quickly midterm season will come by. You’ll probably be overwhelmed by how to study, the amount of course material covered, and what kind of questions your professor will ask. It’s a lot! So if you find yourself underwhelmed about how you did on your first midterms, remember that this is new for everyone and that everyone probably felt the same way. Remember that you have plenty of opportunities for improvement and use this as a way to figure out how to be better prepared and how to reach out and ask for help. It’s definitely not the end of the world. I remember my first midterm in Geology (I’m a Geo-Chem major now), getting a 58 and thinking I’d never be able to succeed in what I wanted to study. And yet here I am! 


    On Studying: 

    Libraries: Please try to limit the amount of time you spend in libraries, especially the SciLi. As someone who has spent countless hours alone on the 13th floor of the SciLi being “productive,” please switch it up every now and then. Sure you can cram at the SciLi before a big midterm, but otherwise try out pretty much anywhere from a coffee shop on Wickenden, to the List stairwell (trust me this place is actually pretty cool), to the Annmary Brown “library” (ok, maybe avoid that one…). The SciLi is overrated. Study with friends for more fun, and honestly, you might even learn more. I’m like 93 percent sure that only someone else can know what you do not, and you’d be surprised by what great insights come up after listening to Brittney Spears’ “Toxic” on repeat at 2 am.


    Finding study groups: Look at the person to your right (on your Zoom screen, obviously) then look at the person to your left… Another great way to find study groups is through extracurriculars and friend-of-a-friend relationships. Larger extracurricular groups will often have entire contingents of members taking a given class at a time, so be sure to ask around. 


    Office hours: We get it, professors can be intimidating. But I guarantee you, your class experience will be dramatically improved by showing up to office hours. They aren’t just for questions, but are a great way of learning things that might have gotten missed in class. And importantly, it builds a relationship that could prove fruitful, or just help you grow more comfortable with asking for help when you really need it. 


    On Food:

    Get a breakfast burrito: There is something so wonderful about an Andrews breakfast burrito that it defies any attempts to describe it. Do it. You’ll thank us later. 


    The Ratty is not that bad: Look, the Ratty is amazing in the right light. Most people who hate on the Ratty just don’t know a) when to go, and b) what to get. If you’re looking for chicken cooked right, the Ratty is NOT the right place. But if you’re looking for amazing breakfast, a great atmosphere, and literally inexhaustible supplies of coffee, coffee milk, and related paraphernalia, nothing beats the Ratty. (Counterpoint: Eashan please have some self-respect; I’m begging you, as your long-term codependent former roommate, please).


    Chicken Finger Friday: There’s nothing like CFF. You might drop off attendance in your later years, but you will never forget the glorious sensation of piling eight chicken fingers on a plate to eat with ketchup and BBQ sauce. 


    On Staying Organized:

    Sure, you can have lists, but one of the best ways to really keep track of assignments is to get into a class group chat. Ninety-nine percent of the time, someone will conveniently remind you that there is in fact a problem set due tonight that you forgot about, and the chorus of “wait what’s” will help you find a study group to collaborate with.


    Having Safe Fun: There’s no better time to pick up a new hobby than college. There are a ton of people with a diversity of interests and experiences. While we might have more restrictions under COVID-19, there are still some great activities to pick up that will help you make friends and memories (while staying safe). 


    Dungeons and Dragons: A great example of safe fun is Dungeons and Dragons. The classic nerd-game from the ’70s has returned in full force, and since there are so many great (and importantly, free) ways to run it safely online (from Discord to Roll20), there’s never been a better time to learn how to roll the dice.


    The Great Outdoors: Go on (socially distanced) walks! Providence is a beautiful and quirky city and there is so much to explore. So mask up and head out


    Write a BBA: There’s nothing better than getting a surprise post complimenting you, so feel free to write BBA’s for other people. It might very well make their day. Especially now, we could all use a little more joy (just be sure to keep it appropriate and respectful). 

    Check out Blueno Bears Admirers here


    Getting along with your suitemates: We can’t really help you here. There’s a magic mouse in the ResLife office that randomly selects one of three options for people who live in close proximity: inseparable, ignorable, or insufferable. You might really like the people in your pod. It is also very possible for you to enjoy living with them, but not enough, and then move out, and then literally never see them again. And then of course, the nightmare option: you are fundamentally incompatible, and should probably make sure they don’t put poison in your trendy water bottle. 


    On Imposter Syndrome and FOMO:

    College is hard for everyone. You can never judge how well someone is doing peripherally. This tends to be one of the reasons why a lot of people are stressed out their first year. Don’t judge yourself because you have fewer friends than other people, or because of the number of classes you’re taking, your grades, your extracurriculars, or your experiences. We all adjust to college differently and college is a time when everyone grows. Be proud of your achievements no matter how small they may seem. As long as you’re growing, you are doing college right and you definitely belong here. And always remember it’s not a sign of weakness to seek help. There are plenty of resources out there so please reach out if you need it! 


    (On) The Pembroke Seal

    Do not step on the Pembroke seal. Look we don’t have any scientific reasons for you to not step on the seal. Hell, I’ve unfortunately stepped on it myself (so you know, I could’ve used something like this). We’re just not ones to forgo Brown tradition. Rumor has it if you step on it you’ll either get pregnant or you won’t graduate. And while I can confirm that neither of those has happened to me yet, I can’t be entirely sure it won’t happen in what’s left of my time here (I’ll keep y’all updated).