Student life at CMU should go beyond the classroom
New faces, innovative talents, and fresh meat, welcome to Carnegie Mellon. Inherent in your enrollment and payment of tuition is an unwritten bill of rights afforded to you upon joining the Carnegie community. First-years are subdued for weeks with undiversified talks of diversity, laced ice cream sundaes and merrymaking under the guise of Playfair and related activities. Yet, all the joyous revelry aside, has the conversation been had that informs you of where the loopholes, enjoyable avenues, and special spaces hide?
Let one who has fallen down in the path to self-realization offer a map so that you may avoid similar pitfalls. It would be a most grievous error for you to be unable to look back four to five years from now without a smile coming to your face. However, this is not a simple task. Many students arrive in their upperclassman years jaded and longing for May to arrive as quickly as possible. Waiting to exit is not proper exit strategy.
Recognizing your talents is one of the great gifts college is intended to bring. Perhaps in high school, the jack-of-all-trades mentality got you through the day, and perchance even into college. The university setting is designed, or at least classically intended, to provide you with an accessible environment for determining your true interest and skills. If you prefer languages to mathematics, stop pretending, and embrace what you are driven toward. Simply because your father worked on Wall Street does not mean that you are required to stay in Tepper when your heart is really in CFA. Many of those who are unhappy fall into that frightful rut by denying their true interests and falling out of the realm of intellectual honesty. There are countless examples of students finding their niche and going on to be great successes in fields they would have previously never considered.
Socially, expansion and networking should become prominent in your repertoire. Remember to never be too comfortable in a social circle. While good friends are wonderful and necessary for support, never pigeonhole yourself into a role. Once you decide to make yourself exclusive to a group or a specific social type, a great opportunity for development is lost. Writing off a person or many due to prejudice or predetermined thought inevitably comes back to haunt you later on in an academic career. Specifically, it can honestly be said that limiting oneself to a tight circle stifles diversity of thought. It certainly is not beneficial in the least when the lessons learned in university require application in a professional setting.
Use the University, because the University uses you as well. Many may not enjoy their classes, but that alone is not an excuse to write off the faculty. The faculty, especially here, at prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, is rich with a life?s bounty of experience and academic trendsetting. At $40,000 a year, you should strive to take as much away from CMU as you put in. There are ample expanses available, and once intellectual honesty is achieved, there are whole sets of students and faculty with similar interests with whom one should collaborate to pursue interests of one?s own. Whether you want to work on Middle Eastern foreign policy or build unmanned military vehicles, there is someone else here that shares your interests.
Venturing into Pittsburgh proper is key: Never settle to live your Carnegie community life only on and near campus. This is a very decent city, rich with venues and libation factories. Live music and theater can be found at every turn. There are activities on campus that are excellent, but make sure to hop on that bus and venture around. One will find that interaction in the community will aid in keeping proper perspective when inside the CMU bubble.
Lessons learned over the years compel this advice. Remember through your time here to be ever expanding intellectually and socially. A great danger of finally being on your own is falling into the trap on exclusivity and close-minded thought. There will always be events that rile up the populace, and at times one might find oneself attached to a number of activist causes. Exercise your newfound freedoms, and always speak up when something is on your mind. Never falter, and never allow others to impede your personal progress. Welcome to Carnegie Mellon; this is now your school.