Saturday, July 06, 2002

Advice for Entering Freshmen at Virginia Tech

This advice may also be valid for other schools, but Your Results May Vary.
1. Don't use suitcases. Bring your stuff in big athletic bags. That way, they can be folded down so they don't take up space once they're empty.
2. Call your parents at least once a week. Otherwise they'll get angry.
3. Your grades will be a lot higher if you go to bed at 11PM and wake up at 7AM. However, this will probably be impossible in your dorm.
4. Get a loud alarm clock, and put it on the other side of the room so you have to get up to turn it off. Wal-Mart has a nice big one with a 90 decibel alarm for around $10. However, if you just press snooze instead of actually turning it off and leave for class, your hallmates are fully within their rights to break into your room and smash it to pieces.
5. Virginia Tech has very good dining facilities. However, they can get crowded very easily. If you can avoid eating lunch between noon and 1PM, do it. Also, if you want to avoid getting the "Freshman Fifteen," have a salad for lunch instead of all-you-can-eat at Dietrick, the Blue Plate at Owens, or anything at Hokie Grill.
6. Make an effort to get to know your RA. This may not be possible, but if it is, it makes life a lot more fun. It also makes it a lot easier to talk to him/her if you have a problem. They get paid to hear you whine, so get your money's worth.
7. Buy used textbooks.
8. The university sent you something listing your minimum computer requirements, and coincidentally a sheet showing how you can get a computer that fits these requirements from the university bookstore. Instead, go to Best Buy or Office Depot and buy last year's model of computer, since it should cost about half as much and easily accomplish all you need (if you're majoring in Engineering, Architecture, Music, or Computer Science, disregard this). Don't get a laptop, unless you also get a full-sized keyboard and a monitor. Make sure your computer has a lot of hard drive space (at least 20 gigs) and a CD writer or Zip drive. If you can swing it, a DVD drive is also very useful.
9. If you have a stereo and intend to bring it, hook it up to your computer. It'll cost you about $6 or less to buy the cables you need, and it shouldn't be hard to set up.
10. If you're a church-goer, get involved early. The Catholics (Newman Community), Methodists (Wesley Foundation), Baptists (Baptist Student Union), Episcopalians (Canterbury), Pentacostals (Chi Alpha), and Jews (Hillel) all have big organizations, and I suspect the smaller denominations and other faiths do as well. There's also New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF), Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) which are non-denominational and tend to be more modern in their worship. If you're a conservative Episcopalian, you're going to need to find a ride to a church outside of Blacksburg or just go to NLCF, since the Epsicopal church here has a female minister and the Anglican Catholic church (splinter group from the Episcopal Church USA) is vaguely creepy.
11. If you know people at Tech, make the most of it. Get rides and advice, and have lunch or dinner with them every so often.
12. Keep in touch with your friends from back home.
13. Do not, under any circumstances, put Counter-Strike, Quake, or Urban Terror on your computer. Your GPA will plummet and you will get no sleep. I suspect that most girls can disregard this.
14. You may see your teachers drunk if you hang out with them outside of class (this goes for most students, too). Don't let this stop you from getting to know them. If your teacher knows you and you participate in class, it can really help. I was supposed to get a D+ in my math class since I forgot to turn something in, but since I went to talk to my professor and I'd been pretty much the only one in class who had paid any attention and not talked while he did, he bumped me up to a B when I'd only asked for a C-.
15. Do not get into a relationship in your first semester. Do not get into a relationship in your first semester. Do not get into a relationship in your first semester. You can go on dates and hang out with friends, but anything more than that is going to be too much for you to handle while you're still getting used to the transition.
16. Don't party too much. When you do go to parties, know what you're doing, since there are a lot of people who may try to take advantage of you if you're not careful. Having at least one sober and/or upperclassman friend at a party to take care of you in case something goes wrong is a good idea. Girls should not go go frat parties while not heeding the previous sentence, while guys should not go to frat parties unless you're a member of the frat.
17. Go to the football games if you can. Virginia Tech has one of the best teams in the country, and the atmosphere is incredible on Game Day.
18. Bring your winter clothes when you first arrive. Figuring that you'll get them when you go home for Thanksgiving is a bad idea, since it can get bitterly cold in late October.
19. Do not sit on manhole covers when steam is coming out. Sounds obvious, but painful if you forget.

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