All you freshman have undoubtedly received so much advice by this time that you are sick of it. Your family surely told you what to do freshman year to get by, your church back home offered advice, your friends have put in their two cents. You got even more useful advice if you went to Convocation on Sunday.
But I have more of it, even though every person you have come across in recent days has a different secret survival guide for your university years. I’m about to tell you the two worst sins Hillsdale College students commit during that pitfall-riddled first year.
Thou shalt not spring for a ring by spring, and thou shalt not show off.
Despite everything you’ve heard about Hillsdale and Hillsdating, you don’t have to get married your freshman year. Why not take the year to get to know your peers, get situated in your academics, and try to figure out what you want to study? By all means, go on some dates and get to know people, but for all that is righteous and holy, take it easy and wait until at least second semester sophomore year to put a ring on it.
To all the guys who’ll inevitably hang around Olds Residence looking to pick up a girlfriend by proxy, it might make more sense to hang around the library or professor’s office hours. Focus on school, which is ideally why you’re here in the first place. Hillsdale should not be your dating arena before it becomes your intellectual coliseum. You are here to learn, not to marry (I think Dr. Arnn would agree with me, but I don’t know).
And remember this always: No matter how deeply you fall in love, please do not, under any circumstances, sit on the same side of the booths in A.J.’s Café or in the cafeteria and cuddle. It will invoke disdain from all around you, and it’s not your happiness they are scorning. It’s your PDA. The college allows room visitation for a reason, and the student union, despite its name, is not a sanctuary for couples.
You must also determine how you want to stand out. Unfortunately, many freshmen seem to think that it’s imperative to have a special skill or interesting schtick in order for people to notice them, but it’s going to be okay if, by the end of your first year, only a few hundred people know your name instead of the whole school of 1,500.
You don’t need to be the unicycling, bagpiping, fire-breathing kid who gets all A’s to be noticed. Just be humble and study hard — I guarantee you’ll make friends that will last all four years and you won’t singe yourself and your pipes while accidentally dropping your unicycle in the road where it gets run over by a maintenance truck before you can get it to the curb. That would be bad, not that I would know all of that from experience.
This won’t be the last bit of advice that anyone will ever give you in college, but it is definitely the most important you’ve heard so far. So please heed my warnings. Remember, we all make mistakes. Some just happen to damage the front end of a maintenance truck and leave scorch marks on those really expensive bagpipes. Take it easy. Make friends. Have fun. Pursue truth.
Brendan Clarey is a senior studying English.