10 ways to seem less like a freshman



Mikaela Krim

1. Hang out on Main Campus

Villanova is notorious for quarantining its freshmen on the far side of Lancaster Avenue as if they were some kind of invasive species of beetle that’s been eating all the plants. At this point, you can’t exactly control where you live, but you can control where you spend your time. And my advice is to not spend it on South Campus.  If you’re Spit-bound crossing Lancaster at 10:20 a.m., no one has any doubt what year you’re in. Do yourself a favor and stock your bag with a Main Campus survival kit, eliminating the need to hop back and forth across campus like a live-action, but substantially less interesting, Frogger.  When fellow students see you shooting the breeze on Main in between class, they’ll start to quietly assume you’re older than you are. Plus, you’ll get the chance to rub elbows with truly important Villanovans—anyone graduating before the year 2019. 

2. Wear big sunglasses

This was a tip given to me before I visited Paris, but I figured there are enough similarities between Radnor County and the City of Light to warrant repurposing the directive. In Paris, tourists are easily spotted by their tacky wrap-around Oakley’s and fluorescent croakies. Acquiring designer shades serves to deflect suspicion regarding foreign origin. Such headgear can similarly assert your age in the fashion-conscious environment that is the ’Nova Nation. How could she be a freshman? Surely, her eyes are glittering with wisdom under those Gucci 58 mm Retro Metal Aviators.  At the very least, they obscure your furtive glances as you try to figure out if the guy approaching from 3 o’clock is the one from Good Counsel last night or if that Vineyard Vines fleece he’s wearing just makes him look like your cousin. 

3. Don’t take the shuttle 

Seriously, before you start complaining about a 20-minute walk to West Campus, tell me how long you used to run for during 8th grade lacrosse practice. If 85-pound you can do it at a much more rapid pace holding a stick and wearing a glorified fishbowl on your head, you can do it in slow motion with a backpack. If your business degree pays off the way it’s supposed to, you have 30 more years of 8-hour days behind a desk. So take advantage of your bipedal freedom while you can. Think of it as a commute minus 100 calories. 

4.  Talk to your professors before/after class

Every college article on every college site everywhere offers this oft-unheeded piece of advice. By sophomore year, students start to catch on. Establishing a relationship with your professors can improve your marks by making you more than a name on an exam sheet to them, and asking the teachers questions can help to improve communication about what is expected from you in a given class. Moreover, the faculty and staff at the University are among some of the grooviest, most intelligent scholars in the game. They have valuable insight to share, but you need to ask for it. And everyone will be doubly impressed by your confidence once they find out at semester’s end that you’re only a freshman.   

5. Be cool when you drop things

Listen man, it happens. You’re on your way back from the mailroom, fumbling with an unwieldy package and an overstuffed backpack and bam, down goes your ACS textbook. Showtime. In order to appear like the cool upperclassman that you are—or at least aspire to be—there are key steps to be followed. 

First, don’t react. Slow your pace, but fumble as you were before. It is imperative that any potential on-lookers realize your first priority is getting that package into that backpack. Failing to follow this crucial step not only will make you appear to be caught off-guard, but could also result in you dropping something else.

After you’ve successfully completed your package-to-backpack insertion, stand next to your fallen book but still do not pick it up. Instead, pull out your phone and reply to an imaginary text. Let the passersby assume that the importance of your social or business life trumps the necessity to maintain the cleanliness of any ACS material. 

The text is sent—put your phone in your pocket and make a brief visual sweep of the surrounding area. Sniff disdainfully, or run your fingers through your hair. The point is to appear as if it requires some thought as to whether bending your precious and overburdened body towards the book is worth the effort. 

But you’ve finally determined that the benefit outweighs the cost—squat or bend over towards the book, pick it up and keep moving.  

6. Wear fabulous clothes

Some of you have graduated from a Catholic high school uniform of plaid skirts and unflattering polos into an even more diabolical uniform—that of the Catholic college. To put it nicely, you’re not the only one here who likes Vineyard Vines, Ralph Lauren, bubble vests and Lilly Pulitzer dresses. Don’t fall into the trap of wearing just anything name brand and comfortable. Draw an unwarranted amount of attention to yourself by finding as many sparkly, sequin, furry, scaly, colorful and possibly scented accent pieces as possible—most freshmen are too self-conscious to try. As long as you adhere to Tip #2, you’ll pull it off. 

Boys, you’re more than welcome to follow the same advice, but as long as you’re not in a graphic t-shirt and Nike shorts we’ll all be proud of you.   

7. Keep Moving

If you’re bravely journeying into previously unchartered territory—say, the East Lounge of Dougherty Hall—and you’re less than 100 percent sure about the exact location of your destination, you need a plan of action.  Nothing gives away a freshman more than starting and stopping mid-hallway, or swiveling your head about in search of direction.

 Before you enter a building, take note of your exits. Maps provide an old-fashioned but reliable resource for consultation. However, never bring one with you. Commit it to memory ahead of time. 

Upon entering, if you think your destination may be to the right, head in that general direction. Go at a reasonable pace; slow enough that you can subtly scan the area for directional clues, but fast enough that you seem unworried. As you make your way towards your presumed end-point, look as far ahead as possible to see that it is where you think it is. If it isn’t—abort! But don’t turn around. Never turn around. Move forward, right out the exit door that you should have already located before starting your sojourn. Now, swing around the outside of the building and do it again, taking the left-hand turn this time. 

In the event that you find yourself at a dead-end and a 180 is the only option available, take a “phone call.” Answer with the phrase “Yea I’m there, where are you?” then pause a few beats and say, “Dude, are you serious?”  Hang up with an exasperated grunt and spin on your heel. No one will question your choice of direction, they’ll just nod sympathetically because friends are the worst, aren’t they? Always bailing and stuff. 

8. Roll through solo 

You might feel hesitant to venture into Belle Air Terrace alone your first day after class, but shuffling around in packs is a freshman move. This is understandable—in the absence of physical strength or awareness regarding one’s surroundings, nature dictates that we find safety in numbers. 

There’s nothing wrong with grabbing food with a friend, but you should know that nobody labels you a weirdo if you eat lunch alone. This is college. You’re probably an upperclassman doing work. And unless you have something horrifying sticking out of your shirt collar, nobody’s going to pay you that much attention.  Not to mention that new people are more likely to talk to you if you look unoccupied, rather than if you’re thoroughly engaged with another frosh.  

9. Explore early 

A huge difference between freshmen and upperclassmen is that upperclassmen know the area. Obviously, they’ve been here longer, they’ve had the experiences. But for a lot of them, it took years to get there. Skip the line. Make every effort to shorten the time you spend mired in that introductory period of assimilation.  

Know your street names—Lancaster, Montgomery, County Line, South Ithan, North Ithan—and know what you’ll find there. Find the bars—Kelly’s, Flip’s, Maloney’s—even if that just involves jogging by them in daylight. That’s all you’re allowed to do anyway. Find upperclassmen you trust, and ask them obvious questions about Nova-specific lingo—The Courts, FMR, pledge rides. They won’t mind telling you, because it makes them feel wise and important, and after waking up to their Final grades during Christmas break of their sophomore year and realizing that that easy freshman 4.0 is but a blissful memory, they could use the ego boost.

10. Be happy 

It might sound glib, but the longer you’re at Villanova, the more things you find to love about it. By the end of freshman year, you’ll be waking up every morning just hyped to be alive in this little corner of the planet.  

You can spot a freshman from a mile away by their furrowed brow and surly expression, and to be fair, college is tumultuous. But take a second to admire the way the sun hits the gold domes on the top of Alumni while you recover from the emotional distress caused by having finally said more than three words in Introductory Spanish II, or how fresh the night air feels as you zip along in a sedan the lease of which is being paid by a Sigma Chi senior you’ve never met. You’re so lucky to be at Villanova, and the quicker you come to that realization, the quicker you’ll start to belong.