Tips and tools for new students

Allow me to be the next in your undoubtedly long line of congratulators. Great job! You made it to college! You’ve taken the first steps toward independence, the first steps in carving out a full and rewarding life. While exciting, first steps can also be intimidating, especially when you have so many people, including yourself, expecting, or at least hoping for, success at every turn. The things we do in college, while they don’t necessarily lock us into a particular course, lay foundations that will continue to affect us throughout our lives. Which is all to say that those first day jitters are understandable.

This is a big deal, and being nervous is relatively normal. That being said, long-term anxiety will not only hurt your grades but also your social life and, in general, will make you feel not that great. The good news is that most people settle into life at the College of William and Mary pretty darn quick. But what if quick isn’t quick enough? If the past three years have taught me anything, it’s the fact that you can eventually learn everything by yourself that you would learn from a professor. The reason why we pay them is to make things a bit quicker and more efficient. You don’t have to pay me, but I may be able to function in a similar manner. While I don’t claim to have the answers for everyone, I will say that there are a few things that seemed to work for me when I first came to college, and I have a good feeling at least some of you out there would benefit from implementing them in your daily life.

You made it to college! You’ve taken the first steps toward independence, the first steps in carving out a full and rewarding life.

First on my list would be exercise. You don’t have to be running 10 miles a day or even running at all. Simply moving is good enough — just getting out and moving your body. This could be as simple as a walk on the Matoaka Trail or throwing the Frisbee on the Sunken Garden. Your body wants to get out and move. Doing so will make you  feel more comfortable.

The second tip can be knocked out easily with the first. Get out in nature and really take it in. Psychologists are constantly touting the benefits of fresh air. Combine that with the self-evident beauty of green foliage set against a blue sky and you have an activity that is sure to ease your tired nerves. Try down by the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater around golden hour (film speak — a little before sunset) and treat yourself to the view of Matoaka waters lapping on green-grassed shores.

All the fresh air and exercise in the world won’t make an ounce of difference if you’re figuratively dead from lack of sleep. Number three is to get your Z’s! Hours in bed before midnight are more valuable, and a consistent sleep schedule will make those nine a.m.’s much easier to get to (and get through).

Number four is to eat well at the dining halls. Limit your fatty foods. Get the salads and fruit. Michael Pollan, a professor of journalism and food aficionado, keeps the advice simple: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

To round out my non-comprehensive list, I’d throw in staying social. Building a friend group is crucial to your well-being and getting rid of those first day nerves. Be open, make friends and be happy.

These are just a few pieces of advice that might help you get settled in here. Don’t hesitate to ask upperclassmen for more. We’re happy to have you at the College and I personally hope you have a great semester!

Email Benjamin Halkowski at


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here