As a freshman, the sense of being lost in a big new world was exciting, but at the same time I treasured every bit of advice I could get. Now that I'm a few years older, I thought I'd share some thoughts. More importantly, I went around and asked some of the most accomplished Penn students for what recommendations they'd give to freshmen.
1. College is about the people you meet. Value them above all else.
2. Avoid eating alone. You should value this part of your day as a moment to talk to friends and meet new people.
3. A romantic relationship is not a waste of time.
4. Your parents love and miss you. Indulge them with a call from time to time.
5. There are people willing to help you with anything. All you have to do is ask.
6. You have two ears and one mouth, and that design happens to be intelligent.
7. Try to learn very different things. Some of the most confident and successful graduates are skilled in two seemingly polar subjects, like computer science and political science.
8. Don't take advice from movies, magazines, or newspapers. Read good books, learn by doing, and come to your own conclusions.
9. Appreciate your summers and use them wisely. Travel to Japan, write a book, read, follow things that interest you.
10. Protect your dreams. It's too easy to abandon something you care about because you're told it's not important.
11. Ask for forgiveness, not for permission.
12. Your school is willing and eager to throw money at you in research grants.
13. If you don't get, it may very well be because you don't ask.
14. If you're faced with a choice between locking yourself up and studying for an exam or doing something much more epic and memorable, choose epic.
15. Don't wait till senior year to do those things you want to do or become who you want to be.
16. Don't miss your classes because of sleeping in, but nap religiously in the middle of the day.
17. Pick up a book for fun once in a while.
18. Get a bike. It'll make the campus so much smaller.
19. Find and protect the time of day when you're most productive.
20. Don't be complacent but be happy. Be thankful for where you are. Everything is already pretty great.