This time two years ago, I was preparing to graduate high school. I had no idea how many amazing experiences I was about to have or how many inspiring people I was about to be surrounded with at Loyola. I vastly underestimated the major life changes I was about to undergo. Of course I was excited about transitioning into college life, but if I had really known what was coming my way I would have been absolutely ecstatic. So with that in mind, here are a few tips I have for incoming freshmen to make the most out of their college experience from the get go:
1. Get involved
You’ll hear this a million times when you get to campus, but there’s a reason for it. Getting involved with student organizations is the fastest, easiest way to meet people and make friends. Not to mention you’ll be able to start building up your resume right away! Go through fraternity or sorority recruitment, volunteer with LUCAP (Loyola University Community Action Program), join the Black Student Union (BSU), interview for the Loyola Student Ambassadors Program- the possibilities are endless. There are over 100 student organizations to get involved with here at Loyola!
2. Get to know the people on your floor
Your neighbors, suitemates, and floor mates are some of the first people you’ll interact with your freshman year. Take advantage of being in close quarters with them and make friends! I met one of my closest friends at Loyola at my first floor meeting during the first week of school. It’s also a good idea to hang out with your roommate and get to know their friends, and vice versa. I actually met another one of my closest friends through my suitemate, and she became my roommate for sophomore year. You never know who you might meet through other friends.
3. Get to know New Orleans
Let’s be honest, you’re living in one of the coolest cities in the country (and the world!). Learn as much about New Orleans as you can- it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Get to know the different areas in the city and explore what they have to offer. Try new restaurants and dishes, walk up and down St. Charles Ave., Magazine St., or Prytania until you’ve memorized every door front, explore Audobon park, etc. The good news is you’ll never run out of things to do! If you love New Orleans, I promise it will love you back.
4. Go to every festival and holiday celebration possible
One thing you’ll learn pretty quickly upon moving to New Orleans is that this city knows how to throw a party. If you haven’t experienced Mardi Gras yet, I won’t even begin to try to explain how much fun it is to experience it with all of your friends. You’ll have to experience it yourself. New Orleans is also famous for the many festivals it hosts. Jazz Fest, Voodoo Fest, Po-boy Fest, French Quarter Fest- the list goes on and on. Go to as many of these festivals as you can and you’ll walk away having had some of the most fun and unique experiences (and not to mention food!) you’ve had in your life.
5. Open yourself up to new experiences
No matter where you’re from, moving to New Orleans and coming to Loyola will offer you a wealth of opportunities that you’ve probably never experienced before. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I can almost guarantee that you’ll be glad you did. Some of my most cherished college memories so far have been the result of doing things that I had never even dreamed of doing in high school, like visiting a museum in the Lower 9th Ward, waking up at 6am on Mardi Gras day to sneak a peek at the Mardi Gras Indians, or eating an alligator meat hot dog. If you open yourself up to everything this university and this city have to offer, you’ll undoubtedly be able to say that you took full advantage of your college experience.