Ten tips to survive freshman year

  • Explore early

Before classes start, figure out where you are supposed to go so you do not walk into the wrong classroom or whip out a map, which is essentially a beacon of freshman sorrow. Though walking into the wrong classroom happens and it can be funny if you play it off correctly, it is best for your nerves if you avoid it. Talk to your peer mentor or RA if you have a question about where a building/classroom is, and be sure to check your emails because sometimes room numbers can change early in the semester.

  • Making friends

It’s important to get out of your dorm and meet the people living in your building. Ward, McKean, and Rex all have pretty comfy common rooms which makes it easy to meet people. Take advantage of the fact that Rollins is a small school. Once you meet someone, chances are you’ll probably meet their friends, too.

Try to go to Rollins sponsored events, join clubs, eat at the Campus Center or Dave’s Boathouse, study in places you see the upperclassmen are studying–basically doing any of these things will for sure help you socialize.

  • It is called Fake Chipotle, not Tarpotle.
The cafe in Cornell Hall for the Social Sciences, aka CSS, serves a Rollins rendition of Chipotle bowls. Students call the food “Fake Chipotle.”
(Chipotle / Courtesy)

Something that immediately distiguishes freshman from upperclassmen is by how you refer to the Mexican-style food service in Cornell. Upperclassmen call it Fake Chipotle or Fauxpotle, while unknowing freshman call it Tarpotle. Stop trying to make Tarpotle happen and be the first freshman class to call it Fake Chipotle from the start. Also, please be respectful to all Sodexo workers. They’re kind people and they really appreciate it.

  • Seek out opportunities on campus

Rollins has a wide range of clubs, on-campus jobs, and volunteer work to get involved in. Rollins’ website, Get Involved page, and Handshake list clubs to join and hiring jobs to apply for online. You can also schedule an appointment with or drop by the Career and Life Planning office during walk-in hours (10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday). Getting involved on campus early on will lend to more opportunities later in your college career. Not only is it a great way to make friends, professional connections, and resume lines, it is also a fantastic way to figure out what you are truly interested in pursuing after college.

  •  Dress the way you usually do

Do. Not. Conform. Be who you are. If you have a pretty clear sense of how you want to be portrayed to the world, then own it. The thing is, once the semester starts going in full swing and you start to get comfortable, you are going to dress the way you usually do anyway. Might as well do it to begin with so your new friends really know what you are all about.

  •  Peer Mentors are a BIG help

Use your Peer Mentors! I cannot stress this enough. They take weeks of training to help you through various struggles. Treat them well and be their friend—they can help you a lot. They are there for you so do not be afraid to talk to them. However, do not make things awkward for them. They are college students too, so if you see them at a party, be mature about it.

  •  Who Jay Gatzby is and why he is asking you to party
There is a Facebook page called @PartywithGatsby that plans different club events for Rollins students. 

You probably already got a Facebook notification or a follow from the mysterious “Jay Gatzby.” If you are wondering if it is some kind of freshman joke, it is not. It is a group of students who hold themed downtown 18U club events. The Welcome Back Party, Jersey Party, and Halloween are some of their biggest turn-outs. I think almost everyone I have met has gone to at least one of these and the reviews range from fun to ‘ew.’

If you do attend, just be cautious and know your limits. If you are not comfortable going, do not. Do not feel pressured because ‘it’s college’ and ‘everyone else is doing it.’ I know plenty of people that go to Rollins who do not go to clubs or drink, so keep in mind that it is ultimately your decision. Stick to what feels right.

  •  Take care of yourself

In a new environment, it is easy to put your health last, but do not let that happen. It is common for freshman to get sick the first week because germs spread as everyone meets new people. The C-store has vitamin-C powder and medicine if you need it.

If you are really sick, Rollins’ Wellness Center (located on the left of the soccer field) is a helpful free service, but schedule an appointment ahead of time because they usually cannot see walk-ins. They can prescribe medication and provide doctor’s notes for class.

They also have an amazing free counseling staff called CAPS, short for Counseling and Psychological Services. It is hard starting college, but know you do not have to do it alone. I cannot stress enough how much CAPS has helped me and a lot of my friends at Rollins. For after-hours support, please call 833-848-1761 to speak to a counselor. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., please contact the Wellness Center at 407-628-6340 for a counseling or doctor appointment.

  •  Get academic help when you need it

If you are struggling in a class, talk to your professor. Thankfully, Rollins professors really do want to see you succeed and they will give you advice or help when you need it. The Tutoring and Writing Center located in Olin Library is also a very helpful free tool! Professors can see when you go to tutoring, so they know how hard you are trying, which pays off. Rollins students generally care a lot about their studies. It is cool to be smart in college.

  •  Own it

I can give you all the tips I have learned from the past four years at Rollins, but in the end, you are a freshman. Own it. You need to make mistakes so you can learn how to thrive for the next four years, so calm your nerves. Being confident is probably the best thing you can do your first year of college.

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