Media Advisory: What I wish I knew when I was a freshman

Extra large twin sheets? Check. Clothes? Check. Towels? Check. Microwave? Fridge? Books? Laptop? Dishes? Curtains? Headphones? Hamper? Wall Art? The questions about what to bring to college are being discussed at dinner tables around the country as parents and rising freshmen students get ready to move into dorms.

Knowing what to bring might be easier to figure out than a few other obstacles facing freshman as they adjust to life away from home. Wake Forest University rising seniors offer the advice they wish they’d received when they moved in four years ago.

Knowing what to bring
Communication major Jake Graham (’13) from Toronto said you don’t need to bring your entire room to school. “Bring a lot less stuff than you think you may need, especially clothes. If you don’t see yourself using something on a weekly basis, it will become a burden and interfere with the things you actually do use.”

Getting along with roommates

It’s no surprise, communication is the key. “As long as you keep communicating with each other and are 100 percent honest about what you are comfortable with, it’s manageable,” French studies major Isabel Ortiz (’13) said. “Both of you are in a completely new situation, so if you compromise and are respectful, you might end up sharing a space with someone who could become one of your best friends.”

Working with professors

Religion major Annie O’Brien (’13) says students should make friends with their professors right away. “My first few weeks at Wake Forest I looked up the bios of the professors in departments I liked, went to those departments, found those professors and awkwardly and excitedly talked with them.” O’Brien, from Statesville, N.C., says having those contacts is helping her with her plans for grad school. “Also, do the readings for class and ask questions about them. That’s why you are here.”

“Introduce yourself and go into office hours whenever possible,” said Graham. “If office hours don’t work with your schedule, email your professor to find a time that works for both of you.”

Meeting people

O’Brien (’13) says you should go to all the meet and greet events in the first few weeks. “It’s easiest to make new friends right away.”

But pace yourself. English major Peter Chawaga (’13) from Pennsylvania said your college experience won’t be decided upon your arrival. “I remember being worried that I wasn’t doing enough or having the experience I wanted at first, but you will realize that you have plenty of time to make the experience what you want it to be. Your college life is not determined in the first week or even the first semester, there’s always the opportunity to make it what you want. But still, get out there as soon as you can. It will go by quick.”

“You were very involved in high school. Great. But so were all of your new classmates,” Graham said. “Don’t rest on your high school laurels, but get involved whenever possible. You can always scale back your commitments as time goes on, but it’s harder to get involved later in your college career.”

O’Brien (’13) suggests you use your best manners. “Treat the staff with love and respect. They are awesome and make things possible.”

Embracing diversity
As a Latina from Miami, Ortiz says an upperclassman mentor through the Office of Multicultural Affairs really helped her overcome homesickness as well as finding a great circle of friends. “I’m really proud that Wake has made an effort to have a more global campus. Joining clubs is a great way to meet people with similar backgrounds and interests through activities and events. Many of the clubs also do community service projects which helps you explore the area off-campus.”

Finessing class loads

Isabel Ortiz (’13) says her worst semester at Wake Forest was her first, because she packed it with 17 hours of class while getting acclimated to campus and the community. Instead she suggests taking all your classes in the morning. “I know it’s atrocious to get up in the morning, but you’re going to be doing that the rest of your life. Second semester freshman year I had class from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It was the best idea ever. I had the rest of the day to do whatever I needed and felt like I had more free time.” Ortiz says having class all day long made her more tired than getting up early.

O’Brien (’13) says first-year students should take classes they’re interested in, even if they are not their major. That’s how she switched from anthropology/sociology to a religion major, and a class in printmaking led her to a studio art minor. “I’d recommend having at least one fun class a semester. Take something you’ve always been interested in, but never got the chance to explore. It’s rewarding and you won’t regret it. Or maybe you will, but in that case, it’s character building.”

“Work first, play later,” said Charlotte, N.C. English major Chakayla Taylor (’13). “Going out to parties on Wednesday when you have class at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday will wear you out and you might not make it to class. Be smart when partying.”

About Wake Forest University:
Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at

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