Your first year at Pitt will bring you late-night pizzas, enough pictures of the Cathedral to fill a photobook and a catalog of opportunities to grow as a person as you navigate the many necessary and unnecessary mistakes that come with leaving the nest.
For starters, you’ll bring way more clothing and knickknacks than you need, and while you are momentarily valuing that “Pittsburgh Panthers Collectable Garden Gnome” you hauled cross-state, you’ll end up losing your prized student ID and find yourself locked out of heaven.
But, before you begin to cry big Monongahela River alligator tears, remember that this is all part of the freshmen experience. Making mistakes is fine as long as you learn from them and you’ve got a lot of learning ahead of you. Here are the top six mistakes from a seasoned senior student.
Bringing Too Much Stuff
There’s a lot of things you need for college: supplies, books and matching bed sets. But without fail, we all end up asking ourselves, “Why did I bring this stuffed animal?” and “Do I really need this pair of ripped, lowrise jeans from high school?” Even the most seasoned upperclassmen have their fair share of stuff they’ve clung to during undergrad, but there is nothing like moving out of your house that makes you realize you have too much. No one wants to go to college unprepared, especially overprotective parents not ready for their baby to leave home. But what you forget, you can find somewhere in Target or Giant Eagle in Shadyside.
2. Signing Up For Everything at the Student Activities Fair
Excess is a reoccurring theme of freshman year, and every fall, students round up at the Petersen Event Center to join something bigger than themselves: a student organization. With more than 400 organizations from the Rainbow Alliance to the Quidditch Club, Pitt has it all. If you’re into swimming, Pitt Swim Club might be right for you. If you want to make a difference, try Habitat for Humanity. But that doesn’t mean you have to sign up for everything at once. After the fair, messages from all the clubs that you forgot you signed up for will pour into your new Pitt email account. It’s better to be active in a few clubs than it is to spread yourself thin and be a part of every club. Choose wisely. If you really feel that you missed something, there’s always next year.
3. Not Knowing How Important Your ID is
There is no feeling worse than checking your pocket and realizing your student ID has gone missing. Your ID is your lifeline on campus, as it holds your ability to eat, sleep or even catch a game. Losing it means spending $20 for a replacement, which you could use to invest elsewhere. Your Panther Card is a necessity almost everywhere on campus.When you’re working out, ID. When you’re studying late at night in the library or cathedral, ID. When riding the bus, ID. When you want a dollar drink from Qdoba, ID. Whether it’s grabbing a quick meal at Market Central or swiping into your residence hall, you need your ID.
4. Brace Yourselves. Winter is Coming
Pitt has some of the highest ranked programs, best college sports teams and the harshest winters you will possibly experience in your lifetime. With such horror stories as Snowmageddon, when the snow piles up to two feet, once winter comes, you’ll curse every inch of your being for not wearing more layers. You’ll fall in love with the first snowfall of the semester, but Pittsburgh’s infamous wind chill will soon cut you down. You must prepare now, because if you don’t have rain or snow boots, you better have a will made up. With the number of polar vortexes on the rise, it can sometimes feel colder in Pittsburgh than in Antarctica. And for the out-of-state students, especially those from warmer places, invest in some new jackets. It’s not the same as it was back home.
5. Not Buying Books and Not Reading Them
For years, many students have taken the risk of not buying required textbooks only to realize halfway through the semester that, yeah, maybe they were required for a reason. Although books that your professors recommend may not be useful in every class, it can’t hurt to have them just in case. You can either buy books or rent them, so cost shouldn’t be an excuse to not get them. But what’s as important as having them is reading them. You are always better off doing the required reading for class than not. Because you never know when a professor feels like calling on you for your thoughts on why Americans embraced jazz throughout the Cold War.
6. Not Enjoying College
By senior year, we all say that freshman year felt like it was just yesterday. And it does. College goes by way too quickly, making it tough to enjoy every moment of it. We all want to get a great education, but college is about the experiences, too. Your best memories won’t be studying for an organic chemistry or biology test, but of late nights with friends and getting lost in the city. You can complain about the weather or the plethora of pre-med students. Or you can make the most of your time here by finding a new hobby or starting your own club. Your tuition is worth more than your degree.