top of page

Tech’s Declassified Freshman Survival Guide

Fall has arrived, and new Jackets are swarming to campus. Our time at Tech is an important part of our lives. We find ourselves at a crossroads where we choose a career and decide who we will be. We develop a greater sense of responsibility while taking on increasingly difficult classes and learning to live independently. We make friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime.

The transition into this pivotal stage can be exciting, refreshing, and eye-opening, but it can also be scary, overwhelming, and discouraging. Leaving home and living alone for the first time is a big change. It took all of us current students some time to adjust to college life, and we at The Liberty Jacket felt that we should share some lessons we’ve learned to make the transition go a little more smoothly. We welcome our new classmates to campus, and we hope you have an excellent first year.



Make a To-do List

Christopher Kitchens | TLJ Editor-In-Chief

I was first exposed to the power of to-do lists by Matt D’Avella during the beginning of the pandemic, and they have truly changed my life. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing tasks off my to-do list as I move throughout my day. This act motivates me to stay productive throughout the day and provides a sense of accomplishment at each day’s end.

Because you no longer have to focus on remembering what you need to do during the day, to-do lists free up mental energy and allow you to be more productive. At Tech, you will have a million things going on almost every day, and without a to-do list, you may become lost and let important assignments, club meetings, and appointments slip through the cracks. Making a note of what you need to get done allows you to focus on actually completing these tasks rather than wasting effort struggling to remember them.

I make a physical to-do list every night before bed. This practice helps me prepare myself for the coming day and allows me to orient my mind toward productivity each morning, and for those that want to go paperless, programs like Ticktick, Google Tasks, and Microsoft To Do work just as well. To better use the limited time we get each day, I encourage new students to save themselves some trouble and make to-do lists.


Meet New People

Josh Polevoy | TLJ Contributor

While the knowledge you gain from school will earn you a degree and get you a job, the people you meet will shape your future. You have entered a period of self-discovery, where you will find new strengths, weaknesses, and passions that you never knew you had. As a result, there are many things hidden in plain sight that can enrich your life and bring you joy. Finding them can be as simple as meeting the right person.

For example, last year, I discovered that I loved craft beers and home-brewing when I was introduced to Engineers for a Sustainable World. In all likelihood, I would have gone the rest of my time at Georgia Tech without finding out about this organization’s Brewing Project. Still, through acquainting one of my classmates, I was introduced to this jewel (and kindled a new friendship). Being brand new to campus and the Georgia Tech Community, there are lots for you to explore. Connecting with others will enrich your journey as well as your destinations.

Another benefit of being well connected is that careers are built on relationships. Networking will play a pivotal role in finding your first internship or full-time job. Although there are structures designed to advance careers, such as the Career Fair, a recommendation or personal exchange is more fruitful than sticking your resume in the pile. Your peers at Georgia Tech will find themselves employed in hundreds of places, and many will be employers. Having connections at different companies and industries can help you discover opportunities and boost your chances of capitalizing on them. There is no better time to establish professional relationships than right now while a diverse crowd of talented people surrounds you.

Finally, in your most memorable moments in college, you will never be alone. There will always be people around you. It is important to live and enjoy what the world has to offer while we’re young, independent, and free from additional responsibilities that we will bear after completing our studies and pursuing careers. But the people who you have the greatest potential to connect with might not present themselves right away. Despite having great memories spanning my first three years, my friend group today, in my last year of college, looks very different from my first week. As we grow, our interests change, and we enjoy different qualities in people. Through constantly meeting new people, we can always have someone to look to when we wish to make more memories.

Surround Yourself with Good Friends

Rene Van Hoorde | TLJ Contributor

It is a scientific fact that your character is shaped by the people that surround you, and you have probably already heard the age-old adage: “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you will become.” If there is one thing in college that will shape who you become for the rest of your life, more so than your classes, professors, advisors, clubs, internship opportunities, or degree choices, it will be the people with which you spend your time. It will be those who you will call your best friends.

When you walk into class for the first time, it will be easy to talk to and befriend the first person you sit down next to. The same goes for the first time you walk into a club meeting, rush for Greek life, or go to church on campus. Everyone is looking to make friends at college, and you will surely find something in common with every individual you meet at Georgia Tech.

In being surrounded with so many like-minded people, friendship is inevitable. You will certainly make many friends out of mutual utility, as you hang out with classmates to study and help each other succeed academically or hang out with others to share valuable connections with clubs and companies. You will also make many friends for recreation, as you meet friends who share the same hobbies as you do. These friendships, friendships of recreation and utility, will definitely make you happy and help you succeed as a student. This will also be how most, if not all of your friendships begin.

I advise you to make these friendships during your time in college. But I also want to challenge you to go a step further when choosing who your best friends will be. Don’t spend all your time with your roommate just because he happened to like the same video games you like. Don’t waste all your time hanging out with students that have impressive resumes and contacts just because they’ll help you find a job. Don’t spend the rest of college with the same group of people only because they happen to share your native language, culture, or background. When the weekend comes around, and you need to decide which of your new acquaintances you’re going to spend your time with, I challenge you to choose the one you really think will help you grow and become a better person.

Find someone you can respect and admire. Find someone who will motivate you to work harder toward your goals. Find a friend who will hold you accountable and call you out when you want to give up or take the easy way out. Find a friend who will give you a hand when you are at your lowest and keep you humble when you’re at your highest. Find that friend who will stick with you, not because you share a hobby or because you can help them succeed in school, but because they care about you and want to see you succeed. Beyond friendships of utility and recreation, seek above all friendships of virtue.

That all seems very intimidating, I admit. Why would anyone be that person to you? Where are you going to find that person? The only way will be to take the first step yourself. Be the one who others can look up to and respect. Be the one who will always make time for his friends when they’re down. Be the one who will hold others accountable, not because you want to patronize them, but because you want to see them succeed. Seek to make everyone around you succeed, and you will soon find yourself surrounded by successful people.


Become Financially Savvy

Pooja Patel | TLJ Contributor

It is no secret that college is expensive. Expenses add up and can be overwhelming at times, especially if you’re in Greek life. My best advice is to know where your money is going by creating a monthly budget. Being organized goes a long way. If you are aware of how you’re spending your money, you’ll also know where to cut expenses if overspending becomes an issue. Whether you’re using your own money or your parents’ money, be mindful of your spending habits.

One of the best ways to be resourceful with your money is to cut back on eating out. Grocery shopping and meal prepping go a long way. Meal prepping is not only more affordable but also better for your body. Eating out consistently may not be the best for your health and will strain your wallet over time. Download the Publix, Whole Foods, or the Instacart app to see if there are any special deals.

If you eat out a lot, download different fast food apps. You can rack up points on these apps which can be utilized for rewards and discounts. If you’re a Starbucks or Dunkin fan, make sure you get those apps downloaded ahead of time.

When you’re a freshman or sophomore, try applying to summer internship opportunities. These summer internships will be a great opportunity for you to save up some money and gain experience for your professional career. Having work experience is great both for career-building and financial independence. College is your prime time to really enjoy yourself before delving into the real world.

Always be mindful of where your money is going.


Have an Open Mind

Pooja Patel | TLJ Contributor

You will inevitably change in some form throughout your college journey. Personalities change, attitudes evolve, and personal views flip. You’re going to meet people from all walks of life, which means it is crucial to be accepting of people regardless of how different from you they are. Regardless of your political views, be open to listening to different viewpoints.

It is disrespectful to stereotype and insult individuals just because they do not match your political views. Everyone should have the freedom to be vocal on their own views without worrying about cancel culture or disrespect from others on their college campus. Treat others the way you want to be treated, and if someone is constantly trying to bully or harass you for your political views, then report them. We live in a free country which grants us the right to express our views and values. You’re never truly alone, and there will always be people to back you up.

At the end of the day, remember to always stay true to yourself. Holding an open mind does not mean automatically going along with the crowd. Do not feel pressured to look, act, or speak a certain way just because everyone else is. Conforming does not help us grow at people; create your own path and be persistent with the views you hold passionately. We can’t control others, but we can always control our own actions and decisions. Remain true to yourself while choosing to hold an open mind and treat others with respect.

Stand Your Ground

Micah Paul Veillon | TLJ Associate Editor

I am sure that many of you are aware of the fact that colleges across the world are suffused with political activism and political junkies ready to voice their opinions when asked (or not asked) to do so. I certainly cannot judge too harshly, for I myself am heavily involved in politics. Now, I am also sure that many of you are well aware of the fact that political discourse on college campuses can be acrimonious, to say the least; it can be difficult to stand your ground on political issues, especially if your views fall in the minority of college student opinions. I have a twofold approach for advising standing your ground in college: the first is through general advice, and the second will be through explaining why I stand my ground. Hopefully, you can extract something meaningful from both.

To begin with, I would advise that you first understand what you are defending. I know it seems simple, but I feel that amongst college students, there is a general attitude of “free-thinking” and applying your own personal reasoning to issues. This isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself, and it can certainly be fruitful. However, as a college student, brilliant though you may be, you know practically nothing about the world. A rational mind, formidable though it may be, stands around a few inches tall when compared to the towering power of an educated mind. In order to better understand the world around you, read some books. Seriously, explore the rich world of the Western canon if you plan to defend or attack it. It will help you better understand what you are standing up for, but perhaps just as importantly, it will help you discover what you are up against.

It isn’t easy, however. There is a seductive allure to applying your own intellect to issues in order to solve them and make the world a better place. I get that. It is humbling to look in the epistemological mirror and see the fallibility and inefficacy of your own mind. But we neglect this at our peril. History is the greatest oracle of wisdom known to man, so I advise you to become acquainted with it. Furthermore, the second piece of advice I have for standing your ground is just as important as the first: understand that those who disagree with you aren’t evil people. Be kind in your discourse. Know that those who attack what you love do so out of a deficiency of mind and ideas rather than perversity of heart and motives.

Briefly, I would like to detail why I stand my ground and defend the American way of life even though it has come at a cost. I don’t do it out of some optimistic hope to convince those with whom I discuss these issues and save the Republic. This certainly plays a part, but I primarily stand my ground on these issues out of a sense of duty, obligation, and piety. I see myself as an heir to the greatest tradition known to mankind: the Western tradition and the Anglo-American aspects our progenitors have contributed to it. We all have inherited a civil society, a country, and a way of life that we did nothing to deserve. I didn’t build what’s around me, it was given to me. Thus, out of a sense of piety, I feel obliged to at least explore and understand it. Moreover, upon exploring, I have seen its splendor and feel I have a duty to defend it. I am, by nature, a very pessimistic person, and I honestly do not have a positive vision of the future of this country. Nonetheless, out of gratitude for what I’ve been given, a pious obligation to those who placed it in my hands, and duty to those whom I must propagate it to, I stand my ground and defend it. I’ve been labeled a white supremacist, right-wing propagandist, and fascist imperialist for doing so. I had to step down from my previous writing job for doing so.

While these things have certainly been discouraging, my gratitude, piety, and duty have been what has carried me through. I hope you can have the courage to stand for your convictions too. //

Associated TLJ Contributors

This article may be updated as we receive more advice submissions from our contributors and readers. Last Update: September 1st, 2021.


Did we make an impression? Did we leave anything out? Voice your opinion by sending a letter to the editor or submitting a counter-point as an article on our Contact page! We look forward to hearing what you have to say. Let's make political discourse civil again.

Recent Posts

See All


Where's the Comment Section?

We welcome your insight! We at The Liberty Jacket believe in meaningful discussion through reason, evidence, and counterarguments rather than short, unsubstantiated comments. If you would like to respond to the above article, please consider one of these options.

1) Submit a Letter to the Editor (shorter responses). Your message will be reviewed and compiled in a separate article with other responses.

2) Submit an Article with a Counterargument (longer responses). Your article will be reviewed and published.

3) Leave a comment on our Instagram page @TheLibertyJacket or our Facebook page.

4) Become a Writer!

bottom of page