Freshmen Friday: Your Year in a Nutshell
“A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go...”
I bet you sung it in your head didn’t you? I did while I typing up this blog. I never realized how well that song fit with the idea of college! College is very much a whole new world. You’re entering a new environment where you have endless choices and are free to do whatever you like. You’ll meet so many new people and have so many new experiences! If you had told me before I came to Tech that I would get to drive a tractor and actually like to listen to country songs, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am, listening to somebody else besides Blake Shelton. During my freshman year, I also went to my first baseball game, got my passport, went grocery shopping by myself, and learned how to pay my own phone and credit card bills. You basically become an adult except you have no idea what you’re doing...but hey, everyone has to start somewhere right? I’m here today to give you the gist of your first year at Tech and provide you with some advice on how to “adult” better!
One of the first things I struggled with after moving in was not being able to drive. I was told by several older students that having a car wasn’t really necessary since we’d be living on campus and still be able ride a bus, bike, Uber, etc,. But for me, it was still really inconvenient when I couldn’t go volunteering, grocery shopping, or even visit home when I wanted to. So if you’re planning to stay busy and you’re wondering whether bringing your car is worth the drive and money, keep my words in mind! Or if you’re in a situation where you don’t have car, you can always ask your friend or roommate for a ride! During my freshman year, a lot of fun memories were made when we carpooled with each other to go get something to eat or run errands!
Another thing I want to bring into attention is your health. While you’re caught up in all the college excitement, events, and exams, don’t forget to take care of yourself! Eat, exercise, sleep! You probably already know this already, but it’s easier said than done. At some point, you’ll probably get tired of the greasy dorm/restaurant food. When you go grocery shopping, buy frozen fruit, oatmeal, and small bags of vegetables, like baby carrots, so you’ll have healthy snacks to eat! The freshman 15 is not real unless you make it happen! Also, remember the gym is free and doesn’t close until midnight! Go with your friends to the gym! I was more motivated to exercise whenever someone came with me, even if we didn’t work out in the same area. Another big health thing is college is getting sick. Let’s face it. Dorms are a breeding ground of germs. At some point, you going to feel fatigue, get a sore throat, and then get a fever. When that happens, just make sure to have some cold/flu medicine and pedialyte on hand. If it’s really bad, go make an appointment with the university clinic. There’s also the UMC (University Medical Center) right across the street in case of emergencies!
In college, you’re going to feel a variety of emotions: happiness, nervousness, stress, loneliness, and everything in between. However, remember you’re not the only one. Some of my favorite memories of freshman year were just hanging around with the other Terrys and having these close moments with each other where we talked, cried, and laughed for hours about our lives and how it’s been so different living here at Tech. You’ll be here for the next four years so make the best of it! Be excited! You’re going to meet some really amazing people here and they’re all excited to meet you!
The work is difficult. Overcoming obstacles, facing rejection, exploring the unknown--many of us need a narrative to fuel our forward motion, something to keep us insisting on the next semester, on better results, on pursuing work that matters even more.
The fuel you choose, though, determines how you will spend your days. You will spend far more time marinating in your fuel than you will actually doing breakthrough work. Richard Feynman was famously motivated by the joy of figuring things out. His scientific journey (which earned him a Nobel Prize) also provided him with truly wonderful days.
Here is a partial list, in alphabetical order, of narratives light and dark that can serve as fuel to push us to do work that others might walk away from:
They all work. Some of them leave you wrecked, some create an environment of possibility and connection and joy. Up to you.
by Seth Godin
by Carli Diver
First off, even though y’all have probably heard it a thousand times already, congratulations on being selected as a 2017 Tech Terry Scholar! I cannot wait to meet y’all and I am so excited for you to begin your journey as Red Raiders. Enjoy your summer because soon you’ll be moving in in August and before you know it, your first year will be gone. So, obviously, college is going to be a huge transition in many ways but the one that you are probably the least prepared for is moving from a high school classroom to a college classroom. It doesn’t matter if you went to a 6A school or a 1A school, you’re going to have to make changes in the way you learn and the way you study.
Heather is going to go over a lot of this stuff in Raider Ready but I wanted to give y’all some personal tips so hopefully you’ll figure some of this stuff out before I did (which was at the end of my freshman year).
1. Introduce yourself to your professors
This is one piece of advice I did not quite understand so I didn’t take advantage of this until my second semester. It is really not as awkward as it sounds. Send your professor an email at the beginning of the semester stating who you are, what your major is, and how excited you are to work with them (even if you aren’t). Then walk up to them after the first class and introduce yourself again just so they can put a face with the name. If it’s a class that you think you might struggle in, stop by their office during their office hours, which will be on the syllabus they give you the first day of class, and ask what you can do to prepare for their class. If a professor knows your name, chances are they are going to be more willing to help you if you are really struggling (and maybe bump your grade at the end of the semester). Almost all your professors will want to get to know you and want to help you any way they can.
2. Take advantage of the academic support services on campus
Tech has so many academic support services that it can be overwhelming when you’re trying to figure out where you need to go for help. Supplemental Instruction or SI sessions are really helpful when it comes to science courses. It’s basically what you learned in lecture but taught by a student who got an A in that class the previous semester so they typically explain things differently than professors do. There is also free tutoring for math courses through the math department. Heather will give you a list of places to get help on campus and I suggest you take advantage of that list. When it comes to going to your professor for help, sometimes you don’t even know what you don’t know. When you are so lost you don’t know what questions to ask, look up some practice problems and they can help guide you on what you need to learn. Then you can go to your professor and ask them specific questions that will actually give you the answers you need. And your Terry family is always willing to help! A lot of us sophomores and a few juniors will be living in Murray next year so feel free to ask us for help anytime; odds are one of us will be in the 3rd floor study lounge regardless of what time you walk by.
3. Find a study method that works for you
This is something you’ll have to figure out on your own and it may take you a few stressful exams and maybe an all-nighter before you get it down, and that is completely fine. Even if you had the best study method of all your classmates in high school, you are going to have to at least tweak it a little bit for studying for a college exam. Or if you are like me and didn’t really have to study until college, you may work through a few different methods until you find one that works for you.
And studying can mean different things for different classes. For one class, you may just have to review your notes and look over the PowerPoints again. For another class, you may have to go back and actually teach yourself the concepts you are going to be tested over. It can seem really overwhelming now but don’t worry. You are all incredibly intelligent, hardworking people who will find a way to succeed.
4. Remember that your friends, family, and Terry family are always here for you
You’ve probably heard this already but I’m going to tell you again anyway: you are going to fail and that is okay. And I don’t mean fail as in fail a test or a class (even though you might do both), I mean fail as in not do as well as you could have or should have. I remember thinking that everyone in my Terry class had everything so together and I was a mess who most days, was surprised anyone let me live on my own, much less paid me to do so. Then after spending maybe 20 minutes in the study lounge, I figured out that none of us have it together, but we are trying and moving in the right direction. When I’m stressing about an exam or a project, I like to call my mom and have her talk to me about what my family is doing at home. It distracts me from stressing for a little bit and reminds me that my family loves me and is always cheering for me, even from 400 miles away.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your family, friends, or especially your fellow Terrys. Odds are they are feeling something similar to you and, at the very least, it’s nice to have someone to stress out over exams with.
Your freshman year is going to be filled with extremely challenging moments, but also wonderful memories. You are going to grow in way you didn’t think were possible. You are going to struggle through some classes; you may fail a test or forget about an assignment (or two or ten) and frankly, it is going to suck. But you will learn a little bit, recover, and keep going. And you don’t have to go through any of this alone. You now have over 200 people who would be willing to help you through anything life could throw at you. And if you ever want to stress over an exam together, the door to room 331 is always open!
Ask this question often.
Several times a day, at least.
Endogeneity is a fancy term for confusing cause and effect. For not being clear about causation and correlation.
It's one reason why smart people make so many mistakes. We think A leads to B, so more A gets more B. While A and B may have been related in the past, though, it's not at all clear that improving A is going to do anything about B.
There is, for example, an extraordinarily high correlation between per capita cheese consumption and the risk of being strangled by your bedsheets while you sleep:
That doesn't mean that eating less cheese is going to help you not die in bed.
by Seth Godin
My name is Dustn Perez, and I graduated from Texas Tech University, Dec. 2015, with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to attending TTU, I spent four years enlisted in United States Marine Corp as a Civil Affairs Noncommissioned Officer. After the Marine Corp, I started school at Palomar College, located in San Marcos, CA. After a year I transferred to South Plains College, and another year later I transferred again to TTU. I’ll be starting grad school at West Texas A&M University this fall to continue my studies in mechanical engineering.
Earning the Terry Scholarship was an important event in my life. It came at a time when I was doubting my intelligence, questioning if I was smart enough to do well at TTU. The Terry Foundation restored my confidence in myself through their resounding, unquestioning belief in their scholars. From that point forward I truly believed that I could actually finish my studies, and just maybe, one day, become a real life engineer. It’s hard to express how appreciative, thankful I am of the Terry Foundation.
Currently, I’m a tool design engineer at CNS Pantex, located in Amarillo, TX. I can honestly say that I enjoy the work that I do. No design or analysis that I have worked on has been the same, so I don’t lose interest. I hope you all can find careers that can make work feel a lot less like actual work.
The best piece of information that I have to offer is, simply put, to hold on to the knowledge that you gain while in school. There were many individuals that told me I wouldn’t use what I learned in school, and the real training begins on the job. While there is truth in that statement, I can say that I use what I learned at TTU every day at work. Of course, I don’t use everything, and some areas of study I haven’t touched since school. The question to answer is: where will you end up after graduation? Most don’t have an answer for this question, so it’s best to be prepared for all areas. I’m sure you all work hard, but I just want to stress the importance of retaining the knowledge you’ve worked for. You won’t regret it.
Also, don’t sell back the textbooks that pertain to your degree plan. I have a whole shelf full of engineering books in my office that I find myself often referencing.
Good luck in your future endeavors,
By Heather Medley
People who exercise gratitude are 25 percent happier according to a study conducted at the University of California at Davis.
Raising my kids to be grateful is important to me. I don’t want to raise selfish, entitled adults.
When I’m around my children I point out what others have done for them–a lot. I remind them to say thank you – It is a “Magic word” after all - and express gratitude in their words and actions. I share stories with them about people who act selflessly, who work hard and who live humbly.
I point out where I’m grateful to them.
And, if someone exercises gratitude with something I’ve done I share with my kids how much their gratitude meant to me.
Positive reinforcements make a difference.
Gratitude increases our happiness, improves our relationships, and makes us healthier.
And it does so reliably. Over 40 research studies have shown the same thing – gratitude rocks.
PRACTICE MAKES GRATEFUL
One year before Christmas when my children were little, I made them practice opening gifts before we went to our "big Chirstmas" with my family. I went and got things from their rooms, things they’ve already owned, things they weren’t grateful for anymore, and I put them in gift bags. I called them all into the living room, sat them down, and handed them each a sparkly bag. When they pulled toys they already owned out of the bag, their heads shot up and their eye brows furrowed. Then I reminded them that they did like their items and we practiced looking happy, saying thank you immediately, saying at least one way that we would use our new gift or why we liked it.
It made a huge difference.
Months before this holiday drill, one of the children had a birthday party and ripped through the gifts so quickly, no one had time to appreciate the gifts, thank the giver – if we even had time to figure out what was from which guest – and certainly no time to express our gratefulness for their presence and present.
I started a hashtag a few years ago that I used as we re-posted social media stories from scholars, who were mostly studying abroad or graduating, reflecting on how they arrived at that point. From the moment of our first Terry Advising sessions during Red Raider Orientation, I begin to stress the character traits we expect to see from scholars at Texas Tech. I often remind them that there is nothing they did or could do to EARN or deserve $120,000 from a stranger. It’s a gift. It’s a blessing.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH IT?
One of my favorite stories to share is that of Payton Manning, first round, 1998 pick from Tennessee. He was the highest paid draft pick of all time. Hindsight says the Indianapolis Colts made the right decision, drafting Manning and signing him to a six-year, $47.7 million contract with an $11.6 million signing bonus. People very quickly started asking him what he was going to do with all of that money. He responded, “Earn it.”
Manning is a first-ballot Hall of Famer after wrapping up an incredible 17-year career. He threw for 54,848 yards and 198 touchdowns while leading the Colts to the playoffs 11 times and the Super Bowl twice -- winning one -- during his 13 years with the franchise. He has been paid more than any other player in NFL history, and it is not even close.
I’d say that he earned it. Tech Terry Scholars will earn it too.
Their stats will include service in student organizations, academic leadership, and investments in the community. As alumni, they will give back and serve the communities in which they live, their alma maters, and the foundation.
Gratitude works when you’re grateful for something real. Feeling euphoric and spending money like you just won the lottery when you didn’t is probably going to make you real poor, real quick. But what are you actually grateful for? It’s a question that could change your life.
Thinking about those things for which we are truly grateful can have an enormous impact. Try one of these to get started:
- Gratitude Journal
At the end of each day, write down – or even just say aloud - a few items for which you are grateful.
I once read a book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann VosKamp, where she catalogs these gifts. They are the ordinary and every day things like “morning shadows across old floors, jam piled high on the toast, cry of blue jay from high in the spruce” (those are numbers 1, 2 and 3 on the list). One Thousand Gifts is about seeing the need for gratitude and then learning to express it not just in spite of life’s trials, but even through them. She refers to this as eucharisteo, a Greek word for thanksgiving.
It is a brilliant and potentially life changing exercise.
Thankfulness feels good, it’s good for you and it’s a blessing for the people around you, too. It’s such a win-win-win that I’d say we have cause for gratitude.
Homesickness. It’s something we all experience at some point in our lives. At college, it can be an almost crippling experience.
When I first moved to Lubbock, I was 4.5 hours away from home. Bear in mind, my hometown is a teeny tiny place nestled in the Hill Country. We’re considered to be just far away from Austin to not be weird. I enjoyed beautiful views, and the luxuries that HEB and Sonic had to offer.
Before last fall, I don’t think I realized just how far away Lubbock is from the land of rolling hills and oak trees. The thought of homesickness seemed like a worry I would never call my own, but like most 18 year-olds, I was wrong.
Before that lovely dorm move-in day last August, I had visited Lubbock exactly twice. I visited once for my tour in November of my senior year, and visited again for my orientation in June. I had practically no idea what all of the red dirt, high winds, and flatness was about. All I knew was that I loved it.
In my house, I was a busy high school student. I traveled thousands of miles with my mom’s speech and debate team for tournaments every weekend for 4 years. I watched my dad’s football and softball games when I could. My little brother and I made late night trips to Wal-Mart and Dairy Queen often. The fact was, I didn’t just love my family; I enjoyed them.
Once I got to college, I loved it there too. The new people to talk to, the food that was downstairs, and getting to experience responsibility in a way I never had before was awesome! But by day four after moving in, the magic was starting to wear off. I missed my dog. I missed my family. I missed HEB black cherry soda. I missed my home.
I was told that being homesick was a weakness. If I missed home, it meant that I was destined to fail. I couldn’t help but feel lost. Should I go home? Should I stay and make my way through it? I was unsure of what to do.
After welcome week, I went home. As soon as I saw trees and felt the humidity of Central Texas, I knew I was home. Did I feel bad? Not really. Did I feel like a failure? No. I felt like an 18-year-old who missed the people who had put up with her for much of their lives. I went to church with my family on Sunday, and that afternoon I climbed in my little Prius and made the trip back to Lubbock without a minute’s hesitation.
I learned that weekend that home was nice, but college was pretty wonderful too. I knew then that my college success did not hinge upon whether or not I made trips home. My success was up to my own ability to keep my mind on a positive trek. I recognized the importance of discovering how to balance my need to attend college and walk my own path forward while also maintaining relationships with family and loved ones.
As you go through college, I recommend the following tips for managing your homesickness.
Thanks for reading!