From time to time, I hear people complaining about their freshman year, whether it is about their classes, professors, friends or housing.
Accidentally listening in on these conversations makes me remember a lot of things about my own freshman year.
People might think I have nothing to say or no place to speak up because I’m only a sophomore, but I think other underclassmen can still have things to say that freshmen want to hear.
Upon first instinct, I often want to tell freshmen how great they have it because of how much busier and harder things get the further they advance in their college careers. However, this usually isn’t the best way to start a conversation.
I’ve found it better to swap stories. Nobody likes to be talked down to, but adults who are newly living on their own are especially resistant to those kinds of words. I know I certainly was, and still am.
Freshmen are often looking for new friends as they reinvent themselves during their first months in a new place. The best way to get to know someone is to sit down and have a conversation with them.
Instead of looking down on freshmen, other students should take the time to have conversations and share experiences with them. After all, what do we have to lose? Even the five minutes you are willing to give could forever change someone’s opinion about life at ACU.
A simple smile or greeting can make an enormous difference. I know without the leadership, but also acknowledgement, of some upperclassmen I would not have decided to get involved in many of the activities on campus I now treasure.
Because of the influence of the upperclassmen who chose to invest in me, I have made it an intentional goal to pay attention to the freshmen I encounter and pour into them in the same way.
It can be easy for a busy student to lose sight of what does not immediately need his or her attention. This goal has not only increased my awareness of those around me on campus, but also has led me to some pretty stellar friendships in the last semester.
Deep conversations and peer-to-peer interactions may not be for everyone, but simple acknowledgement of the humanity within the people around you is an easy first step to take.
I encourage people to step a little outside of their comfort zones and seek out a relationship with someone who could use something as quick as a smile to brighten their day. Specifically, look out for the freshmen who could use an older student’s guidance.
By doing so, you might end up with a friendship you’ll treasure for a long time.