Surviving your first year

Advice from a past orientation leader

You’ve made it. After years of schooling you’re finally in college. Remembering back two years ago when I was at my orientation, I was so excited for the school year to start.

Like many others, I had a warped idea of what my college experience would be. Of course, I’d seen movies like “American Pie” or “Blue Mountain State” and thought my time at UB would mimic what I saw on TV.

Your college experience is probably going to be far from those on the silver screen, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. From school work to making new friends, partying and surviving your first big exam, there’s a lot to think about while you’re in college.

If all you do is party and neglect your school work, odds are you’ll be struggling to get good grades in your classes. If you only focus on schoolwork and shut yourself in from everything else happening around you, you probably won’t enjoy your time at UB.

There are tons of ways to make the most of your first year of college without stressing too much about schoolwork or relaxing too much and falling behind in your classes.

The first thing to consider is getting involved on campus. I’m sure people at orientation will tell you this 1,000 times but it’s the honest truth. With over 150 clubs, 30 chapters of Greek life and various other organizations across campus, there are endless possibilities for you to get involved.

UB is a big school, which can be intimidating at first. The best way to smoothly transition into college life is to find others who share the same passion as you, or try something new and make new friends along the way.

By joining a club or organization on campus, you’re automatically meeting people with similar interests as you. Making connections like these will make UB’s campus feel a lot smaller by having a small circle of friends you can rely on.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the dorms are a great place to meet people. During your first couple of weeks on campus you should walk around the dorms and meet other people in your hall. Often times students with similar majors are placed in the same hall, which can be helpful for doing homework or making friends in class.

You can also leave your door open for the first week or so and as people in your hall pass by, try to introduce yourself and make more connections with fellow students in your hall.

Schoolwork is a big part of college life and unfortunately something that the movies tend to forget about. Unlike high school or what you might have heard from someone already in college, you really can’t do everything the night before it’s due.

Yes, I’ve left papers or projects until the night before I had to hand it in and every time I’ve done so I hated myself for it. Nothing is more stressful than realizing you had an entire semester to finish an assignment and now you have one night to finish all that work.

If you have an assignment due in a few weeks, work on it a little bit at a time and try not to save it all for the night before. Trust me, that’s not a habit you want to keep for all four years of your undergrad.

If you’re procrastinating because you don’t know how to do your assignment, UB has help centers for most majors where you can get help for free. Students who passed the same course with a high grade are hired to tutor students who need a little extra assistance with their workload.

Don’t ever feel embarrassed going to one of these help centers, they’re there for a reason and it’s smarter to go and get help before it’s too late and the semester is already over.

Everyone should go out during their time at college, but what that means is different from person to person. If going out means hanging around University Heights, go with friends and be smart while walking around that area.

Going out can also mean grabbing a few friends and exploring downtown Buffalo. Believe, me, there is way more to Buffalo than just UB. Often times students don’t venture out enough during their undergrad years and often regret not doing so. The local art scene, shopping venues, and restaurants offer a wide variety of alternatives to going out.

Most importantly, have fun. Find a good balance of juggling schoolwork, your social life and hobbies. Time really does fly in college, make sure you experiment and find what works best for you during your first year at UB. 

Max Kalnitz is the senior features editor and can be reached at