The high school graduation season is coming to an end, and freshman orientation is finally here.

I remember my orientation quite well: the over-the-top orientation leaders, whose enthusiasm was made even more perplexing in the San Antonio heat, lots of walking around from auditorium to auditorium (you’d think they’d try to consolidate all of the major lectures in one place) and finally the sweet taste of independence.

The first night I slept over at Chaparral Village I thought, “It’s so quiet!” My mother’s sometimes overbearing voice was silenced the minute we had split earlier that morning. I was a free man.

I think freedom is what college represents to most freshmen. We are allowed a sandbox on which to test both intellectual and social boundaries (as long as we pay the premium).

Now that I’m an upperclassman it’s funny to hear students complain about i>clickers (been there, done that), long lines (you just have to know when to go), the overly inflated core curriculum that makes one wonder if high school ever ends and the love/hate relationship with financial aid.

It’s important for freshmen to use their newfound freedom to experiment with new ideas and leave their preconceived notions behind.

Professors will challenge them with an almost Socratic level of disagreement. Unbeknownst to students, professors often hope that one day a student will organize a reasonable argument, support it with facts and tear their instructor’s opinion to pieces.

Experimentation is also important for a healthy social life. The Paisano typically recruits higher numbers of students during the beginning and ending of semesters. From what I’ve observed of other organizations, this is a common occurrence. I think it means that students begin to regret not getting involved with their university and try to make up for their apathy too little, too late.

I don’t blame freshmen, though. Organizations tend to be either unorganized or inactive. Have you seen any student political organizations protesting legislation lately? I can’t even joke that our student government still hasn’t taken a definite stance on handguns on campus because students didn’t hold them accountable. Student governments represent the student culture of universities, and UTSA happens to have one that stands for nothing – one accomplishes little.

I have also observed that students tend to hold their principles too closely. It’s important to be open to diverse opinions, especially in arguments. One of the most difficult ideas for students to comprehend is that it’s okay to agree to disagree during a debate.

That doesn’t mean that they should leave all of their principles behind, and doing so can often lead to dire consequences. It’s easy in college to become immersed in the “wrong” crowd, and freshmen are usually the first to succumb. One of the students in my orientation group received a ticket and a court date within his second month on campus for underage drinking.

Welcome to college. 

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