Can't-Miss Advice for SHC Freshmen by Konstantin Wertelecki ’13
1. Professors are not deities
It is easy to think that professors wield power that can determine your future; they can besmirch your record with a strike of a pen or hurl you high unto the ladder of success, all while maintaining a cool, quirky, or gruff demeanor. But in all reality, professors are people, too.
While their intelligence is stunning and sometimes formidable, they are very accessible and want you to succeed. Talk to them after class. Visit during office hours. Not only will you learn more and get to know them (because they're all very cool), they’ll get to know you. That forged relationship is invaluable if you need advice or a future reference.
2. Don’t rush into your major
So often we're pressured to answer something when asked, “What's your major?” It's okay if you don't know, and in many ways, it's best if it stays that way your first year.
College is a time to explore and try something new like art history or ‘Farms to Pharmaceuticals.’ Don't brush off your core classes either—they're a good base for discovering your passion. To make sure you'll land your dream job, take time and think carefully about which major you want to pursue.
3. Plan job experience and internships early
Future employers not only like to see a shining transcript, they like to see how you've applied that outside college life. Job experience allows you to show your work ethic and highlights your abilities. This applies for those thinking about professional or graduate school, too.
4. You're on your own
College life is different from high school because you have an inordinate amount of freedom. Apart from scheduled classes, you can do what you like, whenever you like, wherever you like. If not disciplined, this freedom can lead you to a lot of trouble (I guess staying up all night playing video games wasn't such a great idea...). Schedule yourself, be hard on yourself. It's worth it in the end.
5. Don't overload yourself with extra-curricular activities
In high school, we could manage Spanish club, SGA, soccer practice, drama club, and weekend parties, all while waltzing into class next Monday. College is much more intense and you shouldn't plan on joining more than two extra-curricular activities, especially if you participate in Greek life or sports.
You want to be able to do it all well, and have time for friends—with as few all-nighters as possible.
6. The cafeteria is the hub of your social life
There's nothing like a platter full of fried chicken to bring people together. The caf is one place on campus you see everyone and everyone sees you. It's where you'll meet your best friends, hear the latest gossip, banter with your profs, eat good food, and maybe find your true love. Under no circumstances avoid it to “dine out.”
7. Get to know everyone
Spring Hill is full of amazing people—discover them. I don't just mean your fellow Badgers or the professors. Talk to the grounds staff, joke with the cafeteria staff, chat with the librarians. Say hello to Fr. Salmi. As the president of the college, he loves hearing from students.
The more people you know, the more enriched your college experience will be. Don't waste it.
8. Go to all the events you can
Every year, you pay a small student activities fee. Why not check out where your money is going?
Spring Hill offers lot of events from baseball games to mixers to game nights. Mark your calendar for Badger Brawl, Mardi Gras Ball, and Casino Night. Don't shun academic events either—many of the lectures and presentations can be life-changing.
9. Think small
College always evokes distinct images: big classes, big parties, big papers, the big four years. To many us, it can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we don't know where to start, or what to do out first day.
Follow the advice of an African proverb, “How does an elephant drink a lake? One sip at a time.” Take in each day calmly, with an open mind, try your best, and keep your goals in sight. Soon, you'll learn the rhythm of college life and grow to appreciate it.
10. Be yourself
It's easy to lose ourselves in college with a multitude of influences. Your parents want what your professor didn't advise, and your sorority/ fraternity friends think you should ignore it all, even though your BFF from high school told you to listen to your professor.
In the end, it is your decisions that should influence you. In college, reserve some time to discover not only who you are, but you are not. Don't compromise your individuality, and always be true to yourself.
2013 Summa Cum Laude graduate Konstantin Wertelecki will begin graduate work this fall studying modern European history at the University of Cambridge. His accolades at Spring Hill College include the Distinguished History Scholar Award and the Howard Smith Award. He was a member of the Spring Hill Student Government Association, the Student Alumni Association, and French club, as well as the Phi Sigma Iota, Phi Alpha Theta, and Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit honorary society.
*Photo of Konstantin Wertelecki (far right) with Spring Hill College President Fr. Richard Salmi and fellow graduate Mark Brink.