By Thien Van Tran

Two weeks ago I attended my first class at the University of Miami as a senior. It feels as though no time has passed at all, yet I have transformed dramatically. Yesterday I looked in a mirror and did not recognize the person I saw. This was perhaps mostly due to the fact that the mirror was in fact a window and I was staring at a complete stranger, but that’s not the point. College life changes people. And I’m not talking about just making you smarter. Suddenly you feel obligated to go to the gym every day, or tan after every class, or attend every party. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have fun, because you should. You will never have this experience again. But just be careful not to stray too far away from who you really are.

A golden retriever painted like a tiger. Because, you know, why stop at neutering the poor guy?
Here are a two quick tips that everyone may find useful, some more than others, but I’m not one to point fingers. *Eyeballing freshmen*

School Comes First

Miami is undoubtedly a city suited for the nocturnal. The plethora of clubs, bars, and restaurants acts as a playground for young college students. And there’s always something to do. But don’t you ever get tired of all the late nights, all the craziness, all the bright lights and loud music that leaves you blind and deaf for days? ME NEITHER. I can’t get enough of that stuff. What I do get tired of though, is missing classes, forgetting homework, and failing exams. Remember, you’re a student at the University of Miami. School is a priority, and everything else is just extra.

Planning ahead can help avoid all of these negative side effects. If you know that you have homework due Friday morning, complete it ahead of time so that you’re free to relax or have fun Thursday night. I understand that procrastination is the most prevalent religion practiced on any college campus, but doing things early will pay off in the end. Turning in a 20-page paper that you wrote an hour before class will only earn you a terrible grade and a product that your professor will find laughable. Me? I usually laugh at all my own papers before turning them in because I rarely write something that isn’t hilarious.

Learn How to Say No

You have friends. And with friends, come benefits peer pressure. Many new opportunities will present themselves, and I advise you to take advantage of all that you can. However, you should recognize which occasions are productive and which are harmful. For example, having a friend drag you to Salsa Craze is different than going to a frat party. If you never say no, then you’ll most likely find yourself doing things you don’t truly enjoy. Like listening to that Carly Rae Jepsen song. And don’t even say it’s catchy. You know what else was catchy? The Plague.

There are other, more moderate forms of socializing rather than just partying or clubbing. What are they exactly? Beats me, but I’ve been told they exist. Although, as most have you been to Canefest at some point, I’m sure it’s apparent that there are plenty of clubs to get involved in. You can meet new people, have fun, and still be productive in school.

And, you’ll still be able to recognize yourself in the mirror.

Everyone wants perfect grades, but no one wants to study all the time. Well there’s no other way to do well unless you work at it. But having fun once in while is healthy. And let’s be honest. No one looks back on life and remembers the nights you got plenty of sleep.