Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
Although it might feel like summer just began not too long ago, the new semester has crept up on us. With an entire class of incoming freshmen beginning their college careers, I thought it would be apt to share some wisdom from people who know the ropes here at the University of Maryland.
After speaking to fellow Terps, I've found a universal piece of advice is to find a good balance between school work and fun. Obviously, it will take a couple of tries to understand what works best for you; just don't be afraid to skip one night of studying to go to a party, and don't be afraid to skip one party to study for a huge midterm.
While on the topic of studying, one major pitfall among college students is not getting enough sleep. I know it's difficult to juggle classes, jobs, clubs and a social life when we have only 24 hours in a day. But if you don't get enough rest between these activities, you're going to burn out. Make a schedule for yourself (writing it down always helps) so you have an organized list of things to do, and get them done before a set time so you can get a decent amount of sleep.
Another valuable tip for both new and returning Terps is to avoid getting comfortable; always keep exploring new opportunities. Too often we find ourselves complacent: We stick to the same clubs, the same group of friends and the same routine. Believe me, I'm guilty of this, too. We have to take advantage of our time in college to experience new things and to get out of our comfort zones.
At the same time, however, you have to remember you won't be able to grab every single opportunity that comes your way. Most of us have bright, ambitious plans and are eager to do things to help our future careers. Just remember to be realistic when you're picking and choosing extracurriculars. Don't just pile up responsibilities; the quality of your experiences is more important than the quantity.
With regard to extracurriculars, don't just do things to boost your resume — participate in activities you are passionate about. If you're an aspiring engineer, it's a great idea to join an engineering society on the campus; if you're a great singer, join an a cappella group! Don't limit yourself to clubs that relate to your future career, because you want to be aware of the world outside your bubble.
My final piece of advice applies to incoming freshman, and it's probably something you've heard before: Don't be afraid to approach people, including professors! Most folks are pretty friendly, and if you're a freshman, just remember that all the other freshman are in the same boat as you — everyone is trying to find their place on this huge campus. Additionally, college professors are not the same as high school teachers. For perhaps the first time, you will be treated like an adult, so don't hesitate to ask questions or start a conversation with a faculty member.
With that, I wish everyone a successful school year, hopefully filled with lots of learning and laughter.
Asha Kodan is a sophomore biology major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.