What I Wish I Knew as a Xavier Freshman

Personally, freshman year was a year of massive growth in character and wisdom. That being said, here is the entirety of knowledge I've amassed in my first year at Xavier condensed into 9 tips.


By Aidan Higgins, Senior Reporter

1. Experiment with different methods of studying
There is a stark difference in the workload of a middle-schooler and that of a Xavier student. If a Xavier freshman wishes to succeed academically, he must compensate for this difference and learn how to maximize the effectiveness of his studying. Personally, I’ve found that the Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes of studying, 5 minutes of rest) and the repetitive pattern of Baroque music, when played softly enough so that I can concentrate, help me to retain large amounts of information in short time periods. Additionally, designating certain locations as “study places” (i.e. coffee shops, the library) aids in my concentration and helps to soothe my restless mind. However, each student is different, and the studying methods that help one student may inhibit another. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods of studying – when you discover which methods work best for you, your studying will become much more bearable.

2. When studying, the internet can be a valuable tool
A major factor in my academic success as a freshman was my willingness to turn to the internet for aid in studying. Sites like Khan Academy and Quizlet offer summaries, explanations, and study sets for most topics that a Xavier freshman will cover, and many textbooks have corresponding websites that offer a variety of tools for studying, including practice tests and review games. The worldwide web is a massive tree with branches that stretch to even the most obscure of subjects – a student who picks its fruits will be more likely to succeed academically.

3. Figure out which note-taking method works best for you
I’ve found that organized and accurate notes are essential to academic success and make studying much easier and less time-consuming. For a Xavier freshman, I would recommend spending 20 minutes on a weekend to organize your thoughts and analyze various note-taking techniques to figure out which method is the most effective. 20 minutes spent figuring out how to take notes will ultimately prove beneficial, as organized and accurate notes are of the utmost importance when studying for a quiz or a test.

4. Keep your mouth shut and choose your battles
This is a lesson I was fortunate to learn as a young child but watched many of my peers struggle with throughout their freshman year at Xavier. For a Xavier freshman reading this article, allow me to simplify: your default actions should be silence and obedience. If you’re unsure whether a joke during class would crossing the line or not, don’t say it. If your classmates are making poorly-aimed jests and offering unfunny responses after your teacher makes a joke, stay silent. If the class kiss-up is begging for brownie points, don’t join in – I theorize that most teachers don’t actually like kiss-ups anyway. If your teacher criticizes or berates you for something that you didn’t actually do, don’t argue with him or her in front of the whole class, confront them about it respectfully after the class has concluded – I’ve found that teachers will admire the student who accepts responsibility for wrongdoings they did not commit more than they’ll admire the student who argues the teacher’s false accusations and interrupts the lesson. It’s important to pick and choose your battles, for sometimes taking a small loss (i.e. being criticized for a misbehavior you didn’t actually commit) will have a greater reward (i.e. earning the teacher’s respect by admitting that you were wrong).

5. Follow the rules, no matter how pointless they may seem
*sigh* I was recently chastised for “pegging my locker.” If you don’t know what that means: I blocked the lock in my locker with a pencil so that I could open it without entering the code. While I still maintain that the time saved from pegging my locker (which translated into more time for lunch) was well worth the risk, I do concede that I made the wrong choice and was lucky to escape without any real punishment. If you’re a Xavier freshman…I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should just follow the rules, even if they seem pointless. This includes keeping your phone in your locker during class hours. Seriously, is it really worth risking 5 hours of JUG so that you can keep your phone, which you will never actually use during class hours anyway, in your backpack? Is the rebellious feeling you get from breaking a pointless rule really worth the risk of sitting for 5 HOURS in complete silence, with your back straight and your eyes on the wall in front of you, in a room packed with fellow delinquets and rebellious rule-breakers alike? No, no it is not.

6. The appeal of cafeteria lunch doesn’t last long
This tip doesn’t really require much explanation. I was originally fascinated by Xavier’s wide selection of meals and snacks in the cafeteria and was enamored by the idea of using my student ID card to buy cookies and pizza and soda every day. However, after about a month of appeasing my gluttony, the greasy and sugary foods grew unappealing and waiting for 5 minutes in the lunch line every day no longer seemed worth it. There isn’t much you can do about it…But as a freshman I probably would have liked to know that the cafeteria lunch would eventually lose its luster.

7. Your friend group is bound to change
Considering that Xavier’s student body is compiled of young men who commute from all over Connecticut, most incoming freshmen at Xavier are tasked with making new friends, a struggle that many of our public school counterparts don’t have to face. That being said, the first friends of the standard Xavier freshman are typically either students who share the same extracurricular interests as he or students who attended the same middleschool as he. However, students who share the same extracurricular interests or who attended the same middleschool are not guaranteed to have compatible personalities; hence, many Xavier students aren’t satisfied with their respective friend groups until well after their freshman year. While it is possible that your closest friends on your first day of school at Xavier might be your closest friends when you graduate, I wouldn’t bet on it. That being said, a Xavier freshman shouldn’t immediately blacklist the first friends he makes as unworthy of his friendship…He should just be wary of the possibility that his first friend group at Xavier might not be his last.

8. Step out of your comfort zone
I didn’t plan on joining the Kestrel as a freshman at Xavier. Yet, here I am, writing an article about my tips for incoming freshmen in late September because I procrastinated it all summer long. The idea I’m trying to convey is that the extracurriculars, activities, and events you never thought you would enjoy might actually be incredibly enjoyable and might even become an essential part of your identity. Join that club that you’re only mildly interested in – you might uncover a hidden talent or an unknown passion, and you can always quit if you don’t end up liking it. Go to that mixer that all of your friends said seemed lame – even though you would probably prefer to watch Netlix in the comfort of your own home, you might create some valuable memories. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone – you never know when it will pay off.

Please, please, please, please, PLEASE do not procrastinate. For the past 16 years I’ve been engaged in a violent battle – no, a war – with my mortal enemy, Procrastination. She lured me into her trap by appealing to my interests and my warped sense of how long my homework will take to complete. “It’s just one video,” she said. “You’ll have the rest of the night to study.” Once you’re under her spell, it’s near impossible to escape. She was the single greatest source of pain, stress, and misery throughout my freshman year, the cause of my chronic sleep deprivation and the disgruntled, fatigued demeanor I maintained from January to June. She is the reason I am writing this article for incoming freshmen, which would have been so incredibly useful at the beginning of the school year, in late September. I’m proud to announce that, by some miracle, I am now free of her metal grasp. Yes, that is right: I no longer procrastinate. I haven’t procrastinated since the beginning of the school year, and I don’t plan on procrastinating any time soon. To Xavier freshmen, I beg: please don’t make the same mistake that I made. Ignore the seductive calling of the siren that is procrastination – I promise, it’s a trap. Don’t procrastinate, and your life will be so much easier.

For any Xavier freshman who may be reading this article (unlikely as it is), I hope the tips I’ve offered help to decrease the difficulty of your first year at Xavier in some way or form. I’d also like to wish you good luck in your academic and social pursuits, and I hope that your freshman year is as formative and fruitful as mine was.