Whether you’re a first-year student just getting used to college life or a senior who’s cringing at the thought of the real world, it’s never too late to make the most of your time at Utica College.
After reflecting on what will soon be four years as a UC student, I compiled the following list. This is in no particular order.
1. Balance is everything. Without balance, you have nothing. A lot is said about people who aren’t involved on campus, but being too involved can be equally bad. Some people are superhuman and find ways to fit 100 hours into one day. For the rest of us, finding a happy medium is necessary in order to have time for our studies, relaxation, social lives, the gym, etc. Balance demonstrates good time management, which is more of an asset than joining a random club to make your resume look good.
2. Put yourself out there. It never hurts to make new friends. You get an opportunity every day in the classroom, the library, Strebel Lounge, the Athletic Center and in the residence halls. If you’re nervous about these things, chances are the other person feels the same way in these situations. The other person will appreciate you making the first move. Let’s be honest though – if the stalemate continues, isn’t it awkward to see the same person over again without ever talking to them?
3. Make decisions for yourself. Sometimes you don’t want to say ‘no’, but sometimes you have to. That could mean turning down a student organization or studying while your friends go to Varick Street on Saturday night. Sometimes you shouldn’t do what makes sense because you should do what makes you happy. Sometimes you must walk your own path. Your friends will respect you more in the long run. Nobody truly respects the person that follows the group all the time.
4. Save your receipts. You have more money than you think, and here’s one way to prove it. Stash your receipts in a jar. At the end of the month, add everything up to see how much money you spent. If you didn’t spend your money wisely, make adjustments for the next month. If you are good with your finances, you will thank yourself when you can enjoy special events, the weekend, winter break and spring break.
5. Appreciate the Dining Commons. Let me get this out of the way – nothing will ever beat home-cooked food. Still, the Dining Commons is awesome. It is THE definition of convenient. You don’t have to worry about grocery shopping, cooking or dish washing. The café saves us so much time and yet it’s taken for granted every day. I understand that it’s nice to order Chinese or go to Moe’s once in a while, but if you eat out too often, then you’re not making the most of your meal plan. If you don’t have a meal plan, I recommend the occasional trip to the café.
6. Use the hidden gems on campus. The sauna. The racquetball courts. The pool. The batting cages. In one corner of the basketball courts there are volleyball nets ready to go anytime. Now let’s move on from the Athletic Center. Did you know about the TV studio in the Faculty Center basement? The radio station in Strebel? The Art Gallery in the Library Concourse? The soundproof piano room under the library? If you’re religious, check out the Newman Center by the residential quad.
7. Befriend international and exchange students. America is great, but let’s open our eyes to the rest of the world. You learn about different cultures, you learn how to say funny things in different languages, and you surround yourself with different perspectives. Many international students are around for only a semester or two, so they have no choice but to make the most of it. If you don’t know any of them, stop by White Hall 252. If you’re looking to study abroad, then having friends all over the world wouldn’t hurt.
8. Evaluate your friendships. Who are you spending time with that doesn’t deserve your time? Who should you spend more time with but haven’t? To keep it real, some friends add value to your life and others don’t. The sooner you figure this out, the better off you’ll be.
9. Check out UC’s fraternities and sororities. Going Greek may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly worth looking into. The people you meet may very well become your second family. Greek life is fun, of course, but it also offers amazing opportunities to network and give back within the Utica College community. The Greek connection is worldwide – you’re bound to connect with anyone you see proudly wearing their letters.
10. Participate in intramurals. Even if you’re a student-athlete, it’s fun to participate in intramurals. Bragging rights is all you need to play for here. It’s competitive and definitely something Allen Iverson looks forward to – games without practice.
11. Stick around for Senior Week. Ah, the week between finals and Commencement. The main events are Senior Ball and Senior Pub Night, which costs $70 to attend. Don’t let the price scare you away because it’s well worth it. Senior Week is the last chance for seniors to have fun as undergrads. Throw in the best weather of the year and that gives you an amazing time to be on campus.
12. Pack that Zipcar. Members can reserve and use Zipcar anytime. Zipcar covers gas, insurance and maintenance costs for you. The company will reimburse you if you happen to spend any money on the vehicle. Unlike other car rental companies, Zipcar does not charge an underage fee for anyone under 25. Save even more money on rental costs by carpooling with friends. If you plan to go shopping, you might as well take advantage of college discounts.
13. Avoid the Tuesday/Thursday trap. It looks so appealing on paper to schedule classes for only two days, but then life happens. You’ll be the person with multiple exams, presentations and papers due on the same day. And you’re scrambling to get it done because you thought you had all the time in the world. Where’d all that time go? Every weekend is long and may include more naps than you want to admit, but a pile of Tuesday assignments due on Thursday is no fun. It takes a special kind of discipline to take on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule and avoid procrastination in the process. The lack of consistency in a schedule like that can really throw you off balance. If you’re the type who needs to have a day off here and there, I would recommend stocking up on Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes instead. Despite the days off, you’d still go to class often enough to remain productive.
14. Pick a hobby and stick to it. The best decision I made this semester was bringing my guitar back up from home. Every time I need a moment to ease stress and relax, I can do so in a productive way. I can go on about how much I love my guitar, but the point here is to choose a hobby you’d enjoy too much to forget about. No matter how busy you are, you’ll always find time for your favorite hobby.
15. Go to the Aud. Fun fact: the NCAA D-III Frozen Four will be held at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in 2017. Utica is a hockey town and that was confirmed when the Comets arrived. Thanks to the Comets’ arrival to Utica, the Pioneers enjoyed the renovations to the Aud last season. Even before the Comets and the million-dollar makeover, the Aud is where UC school spirit is at its finest. I’m not much of a hockey fan myself, but I love to watch the Pioneers in action. The Aud is notorious for being the best Division III facility for ice hockey in the country. The energy is great and the atmosphere is as close to professional sports as it gets in Division III. By the way, free shuttle vans take you from Strebel to the game, which is also free for UC students.
Hope you found this helpful. See you around campus!