College 101: The Beacon’s comprehensive guide to ruling your first semester

By The Beacon | September 4, 2014 1:13am
Follow these guidelines and you will be as powerful as Waldschmidt is looming.

By Melissa Aguilar |

Coming back from no homework and long summer days is always hard. Whether you’re new to The Bluff or coming home, here are some tips for making this semester great.

Social Do Ask: If you never ask, you’ll never know. That nice girl you talked to in The Commons but were too afraid to ask out? She could have been your future wife! Ask the guy in your history class if he wants to get coffee after class. Make sure you ask them to a specific event at a specific time, so they can say they’re busy if they’re not really feeling it. It will make it less awkward for the both of you, and then you’ll be free to spend your time with cooler peeps. Do Be open to meeting different people: You’d be surprised by what you have in common with all sorts of different people. Don’t confine yourself to spending time with people from your major or dorm. Join some sort of on-campus organization, whether it’s through a club,  job or volunteer group.

Don’t Engage in passive aggressive behavior: So your roommate went on a date with UP’s version of Ryan Gosling after you made it clear you had plans for him. Use your words! Talk to people when they upset you, as nicely as you can. Trying to guess what’s on another’s mind will get you nowhere.  A lot of unnecessary drama can be avoided if you politely communicate your feelings. Don't Leave your friend behind: If you show up to a party with a friend, come back with that friend. Or at least make sure you both communicate before leaving. Never walk back alone, even if you really want to leave. It’s better to wait until you have a walking buddy. Don't Forget about your family and friends at home: Whether you’re commuting or moved from across the country, being in college changes family dynamics. Keep your loved ones in the loop about what’s going on in your life. Make a call to mom and dad once a week - it’s a lot easier than trying to update them on an entire month.

Health Do Find exercise that works for you: Maybe the last time you went for a run was that fateful day in middle school gym class when ran the mile, and the idea of lacing up your sneakers now makes you want to cry. You don’t have to run! In addition to cardio and weight equipment, Howard Hall offers fitness classes like yoga, kickboxing and Zumba. Or if you’re into nature, Howard Hall also houses Outdoor Pursuits, which leads trips to some of Oregon’s most beautiful locations. Do Aim to work out three days a week for a month.  It takes 21 days for an act to become habitual. If you can exercise just 12 times a month, pretty soon it will seem weirder if you don’t exercise. Do Drink more water: A lot of the time you think you’re hungry, you’re really just thirsty. Do Carry around a reusable water bottle with you and set a marker for how much you want to drink by midday. Then refill it for the rest of your evening. Just think of all the money - and calories - you’ll save by skipping that second latte or extra soda.

Don’t Eat everything you want: Unless, of course, all you want are fruits and vegetables. In which case, feel free to stuff your face. If you have a meal plan, it can be easy to stroll past the salad bar, following the glorious scent of french fries wafting through the air. So try to make fruit or leafy greens part of every meal.  It’s unrealistic to say,”Never have junk food,” so just commit to making one healthy choice for every unhealthy one. Don't Fear the Health Center: Pretty soon the rain will have us all cooped up inside together, sharing each other’s germs. Take care of yourself if you’re feeling under the weather. The Health Center also has counselors available whenever you need them. Don’t feel like you need to have some big life crisis to talk to them; sometimes an outside perspective can shed new light on an old problem.

Academics Do Study a little each night: If you start reviewing information you just learned in class, it will stay fresher in your mind. Cramming at night adds unnecessary stress and makes you lose precious sleep. You don’t have to be the kind of person that does your homework as soon as you get it. By just looking over, you’ll have time to email your professor if you have any questions.

Don’t Be afraid to talk to professors: Some professors can be intimidating, but they are here to help you. However,don’t ask them a question they just answered. Don’t make them want to hit you with a piece of chalk. Pay attention so they don’t have to repeat themselves five times. Don't Freak out if you fail: Things don’t always go the way we expect. You might have breezed through AP Biology in high school, but your less-than-stellar Biology 206 midterm grade now has you questioning your entire career trajectory. Use this opportunity to evaluate what went wrong, and then channel that into doing better next time. Don't Do homework in bed: Beds are sneaky little devils. Say, “I’ll just rest my eyes for a little bit,” and you’ll wake up three hours later late for class. If you are going to do homework with your head on a pillow, at least set an alarm.

Living Do Attend guest lectures: For being a small university, UP brings in some pretty big names giving talks.  Even if you’re unfamiliar with a particular speaker’s work, it takes only a few minutes on a search engine to find out how interesting they are. Usually, there is an opportunity to ask questions, and you might get to network with someone doing great work in your field. Do Get out of the UP Bubble: Between classes, clubs and work, making the time to get off campus can be difficult. Plan one weekend a month where all your friends will be free and go explore Portland, even for just a couple of hours.

Don’t Set things on fire: If you’re going to do any sort of cooking in the dorms, make sure to keep a very close eye on it - even if it’s just microwave popcorn. You don’t want to be responsible for waking up 200 people because you had the munchies at 2 a.m. Don't Lanyards: Does this need explanation? Just don’t. Don't Leave a mess in communal living spaces:  Always, always, always check that you left your space as good as you found it. Keeping your dorm room sink clean is important, but also keep in mind that nobody wants to use a library study room if you leave behind nasty lunch crumbs. And please, clean out the shower after you use it.

Melissa Aguilar is a reporter for The Beacon. You can reach her at