What I Wish I Had Known as a Freshman

by | Aug 29, 2017

Hello! My name is Bob Visicaro and I am a Junior studying Natural Resource Management and Conservation at Paul Smith’s College. Two years ago, I was the awkward new guy sitting in the back of the classroom who missed Welcome Week and didn’t know anyone. I moved to Saranac Lake a few months before school started and did the best I could to adjust to Adirondack living. Then came the first day of classes at Paul Smith’s College and it was filled with all sorts of new stressors. But, needless to say, I survived. I not only survived, I flourished. That is why I am writing to you today. I’m going to let you in on a few secrets that I have discovered along the way to help you seamlessly transition into Smitty life.

So, here is a list of what I wish I knew as a Freshmen.

1. Show Up With an Open Mind
Paul Smith’s College houses students from all over the place. We have students straight out of high school, we have students straight out of the military, we have students straight out of the workforce. Everyone is coming from all over to become a Smitty. You see someone new, say hello! Chances are you’ll have a class together at some point regardless of your majors.

2. It Gets Cold Here
I don’t watch the news all that much, but according to my mom, Saranac Lake makes the news every few weeks throughout the winter. Why? Because of how cold it gets from time to time. Saranac Lake has been referred to as the coldest town in the continental U.S. Yes! You read that right…Coldest in the Continental United States! I’m not trying to scare you tough, you’ll warm up to it after a few weeks. That being said, pack warm. Bring that extra sweatshirt, heavy winter jacket, and invest in warm socks. Bring those Uggs or Mucks or whatever boots you wear. You’re gonna need them!

3. Get to Know Your Professors
Paul Smith’s College isn’t very big, but that is a good thing! You aren’t just a number here and you’ll have to opportunity to get to know your professors. We are lucky enough to be taught by a group of fantastic professors whose experiences I love hearing about. They are just as interested in your field as they are interested in you. Don’t be surprised to find yourself fishing or hiking with a professor once your class is over.

4. Actively Participate in Class
Want to know the best way for your professor to get to know you? Participate! Don’t just show up to class, engage in every lesson. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be wrong either. When you do the work and participate not only will it likely result in a good grade, but it will make you feel like you’re getting something out of each lesson.

5. Utilize the Academic Success Center
Having a hard time with class work? Confused about something? Not feeling comfortable participating because you don’t understand something? Stop in to the ASC (Academic Success Center) and the wonderful group of students and staff will be more than happy to help you any way they can! I actually know this first hand because I have been using their services every single semester since I arrived. They’re on the second floor of the library – can’t miss ‘em.

6. Treat Class Like a Job
Because it is your job! Someone is investing a lot of money for you to be here and it might even be you. So, would you no call no show at work? Then don’t do it with class! Attendance is a huge part of being successful. You show up, you do your work, you – hopefully – get a good grade. Pretty simple concept.

7. Time Management is Huge
College is about more than learning in the classroom. The work you put in outside of class is just as important. Everyone is different with this but budgeting your time and avoiding procrastination will prevent those crazy 12-hour cram sessions in the library. Get assigned a paper that’s not due for a month? Start it when it gets assigned. You may get in the zone and finish it or at least get a good chunk of it done. This will give you more time to edit or (Hint: go back to number 3) talk to your professor about it to make it the best it can be. Stay ahead!

8. Find Time for Yourself
We all have hobbies and things we like to do. Find time to do those things. We go to school in one of the most beautiful parts of the U.S. My spare time is filled with fishing and climbing mountains. These things aren’t for everyone, but you can find your niche here. We have some wonderful clubs here on campus and chances are someone else here also likes to do what you like to do. Get involved!

9. Have Fun
We are all here because something about this place rubbed us the right way. Something drew us here. Well get out there, make some new friends, and enjoy whatever it was that got you here!

10. The Next Step is Real Life
The work you do here sets you up for your future. You may find that you have to change majors because your topic wasn’t what you were expecting and that’s ok! But once you find what you excel at, do it to the best of your ability. This one also goes back to number 3, the professor of your English 101 class might be the person who writes you a letter of recommendation and lands you your dream job. So, make every class count!

I hope this helps! Remember we are all in this together and we as students have the ability to help each other be successful. So, to the incoming students, welcome. To the returning students welcome back, and to the students graduating after this semester, good luck! Once a Smitty always a Smitty.

Bob Visicaro