I love the first day of class. First, there is the excitement of school supply shopping, printing off new schedules that you quickly misplaced after registering and spending the evening before picking out that envious outfit. After that, there is placing the decal on the window of your not always reliable car from high school graduation and planning your mid-morning attack on the negative five parking spots intended to accommodate the growing student population. And then you encounter the plastered smiles and inevitable questioning on the first day. “How are you?” “When did you get that tattoo?” “When did you two start dating?” But, “How was your summer vacation” is always the go-to question from your best friends, sorority sisters, lab partners, and people you didn’t even remember from freshman year. No one really listens. They just wait their turn to outdo your vacation.
Since most people already know my summer of mini-vacations from China to Canada, I won’t reiterate. Besides, I beat anyone on summer vacation fun. But, the question I got most was, “Weren’t you supposed to graduate.”
Sure, I was supposed to, but what fun is that? I was off climbing the Great Wall. I was off climbing the Grand Canyon. I was off climbing back up the GPA ladder. I admit it. I am around for one more semester to salvage my freshman year grades. Between Alpha Xi Delta, cheerleading and all my after-hour festivities, I bombed. I had no trajectory, no realization of the outside world. I found a responsibility freshman year that I did not know how to handle.
But, I found my responsibility midway through my junior year. I found a career goal. I found a life goal. I found a new way to enjoy college. While all this is dandy, don’t get me wrong. Academics should always come first. However, I had a killer time in college, one I am paying for right now. But, let me give you a few tips for having loads of fun, while still keeping that GPA afloat.
So, let me welcome you to College. No parents. No curfew. So many opportunities. At 22 years old, I am not fully qualified for Social Security or have the right to give you a “back in my day” snooze fest, though walking through the Oozeball pit to the church parking lot every day does technically count as walking uphill both ways to school. I just want to lend some advice I have acquired during my four (ok, four and a half) years at Riddle. I am sure you have heard the collegiate spiel from Admissions, Records and Registration, Financial Aid and even Safety (it scared me my first time girls, so don’t worry). But, my freshman year no one stopped to tell me other important tidbits of information. I had lived in Port Orange for two years before I came to Riddle, so I knew the best restaurants, hair salons and locals-only beaches. But, I didn’t really know the campus that well.
So here are my Freshman 15 Do’s and Don’ts of Riddle because everyone has to gain it and it might as well be advice than extra poundage.
- Do learn Riddle’s jargon. Whether you are a pilot, engineer, or part of my minute Communications department, a few more acronyms can’t hurt. Though the University is called Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, no one wants to say all that in one sentence. Chances are your audience won’t know what you just said anyway. But, in shorting the name, don’t call it Embry. We get confused with Emory. Instead, refer to the University as Riddle. As for when you are away from Riddle, International Speedway Boulevard is simply ISB. Try to avoid it at all costs. Ponce refers to Ponce Inlet. As a local I don’t want to tell you about the white sand and lowly populated jetty. As a fellow classmate, this is the cleanest you will get of Daytona-area beaches.
- Don’t wear uncomfortable shoes the day you need to get something done on campus. Once you have become acquainted with Riddle acronyms, it is time for another Riddle pastime. Following the Christmas tornado, offices were moved all over campus and to odd places. Even the veteran Riddlers need maps to find the ever-changing offices. But, then even when you do find the offices, chances are you have stumbled into the wrong office and the one you want is across campus. When you do find the right office, there are always thousands of signatures, first born children and blood samples needed just to drop a class. This is a phenomenon known to fellow Riddle students as the Riddle Runaround. While the staff does not do this intentionally, just expect it. Be courteous though I know you want to call home and cry or throw your expensive textbooks.
- Do buy your books online. Speaking of textbooks, they don’t have to always be expensive. I usually have to buy multiple books for one class and understand how quickly $500 disappears. Instead, look on sites like Campus Books which can save you a lot of money. That extra money could go towards tuition, housing or all those “necessary” Mocha Cappucinos before Math class.
- Don’t go to class in your beachwear or sleepwear. I know it is so tough to go to an 11:00 a.m. class when you went to bed at 4:00 a.m., but PJs or bikinis are not classroom wear.
- Don’t forget your umbrella. We go to an open air campus and Florida weather is fickle. Heck it was Christmas day and we had a tornado. Typically, it rains at about 2 p.m. everyday until mid-winter. If you can’t tell if it is winter yet, refer to a calendar.
- Do get to know your faculty. They are your lifeline to the industry, so make a good impression. Turn in assignments on time. Show up prepared. Don’t sleep in class. It is a really REALLY expensive nap. This is college and if you want to be treated like the adult you think you are, act that way. Professors expect adults. When you are done impressing the professors this semester, use Rate My Professors to help pick out classes for spring.
- Do expand your eating, not your waistline. Speaking of Freshman 15, go off campus. I know the lights of Chik-Fil-A call you like bugs, but don’t eat that day in and day out. Same goes for the all-you-can-eat buffet. It may be called that, but doctors don’t recommend it. There are healthy choices for students in the cafeteria, but they are not ready-to-eat and I understand the rush to get to class. So instead, take your time, make a salad or order a wrap. Your waistline will thank you.
- Do get involved. The experiences I had as a cheerleader, a sister in Alpha Xi Delta, sweetheart of Sigma Chi and on study abroad have filled my scrapbook and my resume. Whether you enjoy skydiving, Anime, flag-football, German or Greek life, join others who share your same likes. Head out to the Activities Fair. Scroll through the clubs at Clubs and Organizations. You won’t regret it.
- Don’t miss free food at the Athletics BBQ. We have amazing sports so go support them. A list of activities can be found on embryriddlesports.com. The games usually have great giveaways while playing great rivalries. If for nothing else, pick up a free t-shirt.
- Don’t do over 35 mph on A1A and watch the speed trap on Richard Petty. Despite popular belief, Riddle students are not God’s gift to Daytona Beach and the police are more than happy to pull over a green or yellow decal. Remember that tuition is already steep. You don’t want to explain a ticket to your loan company.
- Do visit Florida’s many attractions. Ponce Inlet is 15 minutes east. Miami is 4 hours south. Orlando is an hour west. Jacksonville is an hour north. No matter which direction you go, there is something to do. Fill up your car with friends. I will give a few reviews on places to go later in my journal.
- Do buy a year-round pass for the beaches. If you don’t have the gas money to get to Orlando or Miami, take the ISB Bridge to our beaches. This pass allows you to park on the beach and visit the local state parks for a full year. It saves you money and from dragging all your beach stuff. I choose to drive the beach because I am lazy. Take full advantage of the World’s Most Famous Beach.
- Do sign up for study abroad. As a freshman, you likely won’t get an internship, so instead of going home to your parents for the summer or spending your time developing skin cancer on Daytona’s beaches, head to Italy, Japan or France. I went to China this summer for five weeks and it was the best excuse for me to not graduate. If nothing else, it half price tuition. Get more information on Study Abroad .
- Don’t go out during BikeWeek, Biketoberfest, or Race Weeks. Spring Break may only be a week for us, but for Daytona it lasts a little over four weeks during March. During this time, use Beville and not ISB.
- Don’t put questionable photos on Facebook. It is not the place to paste photos of you gallivanting during that weekend’s festivities. Remember those security checks we will all get in our field of work? All of those photos will make us wish we had forgotten.
On a final note, DO have fun. Don’t let upper classmen tell you there is nothing to do here. Embry-Riddle has so much to offer. Daytona Beach has so much to offer. Take all the opportunities with all the responsibility.