Advice to Freshers: Don’t Panic

Don't Panic, book cover, via WikipediaAs our new first year students arrive this week, there is a strong orientation programme for them, to ease them into Trinity life. Trinity News, one of the student newspapers, writes in praise of Trinity’s old-fashioned freshers’ week; another college’s publication last week looked at Freshers’ First Steps; and GoToCollege has some useful tips for those Starting College. Flying Saucer; a current UK student has some excellent advice (entertainingly quirky, often practical, but occasionally misleading: have loud parties, make friends, don’t buy books); a recent US graduate does something similar in a very American fashion (prioritize, study, find meaning); the Guardian warns that the first week is more likely to challenge your wallet than your brain; Registrarism emphasises that newspaper copy doesn’t always recognise that there is much more to freshers’ week than commerce and alcohol; but by far the most useful pieces of college advice is a series of columns in the New York Times called College Advice, From People Who Have Been There Awhile. Some favourites:

  • Gerald Graff: Recognize that knowing a lot of stuff won’t do you much good unless you can do something with it by turning it into an argument.
  • Garry Wills: read, read, read; similarly Harold Bloom: read authors who are difficult and demand rereading, but that doubles their value.
  • Carol Berkin: don’t alienate your lecturers; and laugh at all (or at least most) of their jokes.

Finally, Mike Madison has tips for newbies; his most important advice is the title to this post (some links added):

In the words of the great Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Don’t Panic. …

And if the panic takes hold (or not) try the song below, “Panic Switch” (lyrics here) by Silversun Pickups (I recommend going to 11). …

Panic Switch – Silversun Pickups

Other classic examples of the ‘don’t panic’ advice: Coldplay (YouTube) and Dad’s Army (YouTube). Don’t panic, and enjoy.