This past week it was 10 degrees Fahrenheit in my hometown of Atkinson, NH. While my parents and sister were bundling up by the fire, my teammates and I enjoyed a rest day exploring Laguna Beach. As I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean it dawned on me that a year ago I was helping my dad shovel the snow off the driveway. What a difference a year makes!
My name is Mitchell Kirsch and I am a first-year student at Claremont McKenna College on the Men’s Basketball team. By no means am I an expert on adjusting to college, but I have picked up a few helpful tricks over the past semester that made my transition easier. While they are still fresh on my mind, here are my tips to be a better freshman:
The first few weeks of school I walked everywhere with a gallon of water because SoCal is HOT and DRY and it is very easy to get dehydrated. I knew that if I didn’t drink enough water I would lose energy, feel groggy, and have a bad attitude. Those were the last things I wanted out of my first few weeks of college, so I made sure to drink a lot of water.
Keep my phone in my pocket
Entering a different atmosphere can be uncomfortable and it was tempting to escape my surroundings and jump into the world of social media. At times I found myself doing this, but soon realized that this was only slowing down my adjustment. The only way I would become familiar with a new environment was to experience the different aspects of it on my own, without my phone.
One of my favorite features of having the Claremont Colleges all bordering each other is that there are many places to explore. I really enjoyed spending Sunday mornings walking around the different campuses. I climbed the trees on Pomona’s campus, walked through the gardens at Scripps, admired the art at Pitzer, and took in the architecture at Harvey Mudd. Getting my bearings on the larger campus was very helpful when I needed to find a quiet place to study, where a neuroscience talk was being held at Mudd, and when I wanted to get out of my dorm and just be around nature.
Smile at people on the paths
The first few weeks of school seemed like everyone was scrambling to get from one place to another. Often times people would be speed walking with their head down looking at their phone to see where their next class was. I definitely had those moments too. However, it was always refreshing and welcoming when someone acknowledged my presence on the path with a smile. I tried to return the favor and found that I felt more apart of the community by simply acknowledging someone walking by.
Get to know influential people
This was advice I received in high school and definitely still applies in college. By influential people, I don’t mean the deans or school president, although it is great to develop good relationships with them, I mean the dining hall workers, groundskeepers, and the custodians in the gym. Those are the people that put in a lot of physical work for the students to have the best college experience possible. They truly care about our experience and appreciate it when their work is acknowledged. A wise senior once told me, “You never know how they can help you out if you just go a little out of your way to get to know them.”
Use people’s names
I’m really bad at remembering names. So trying to learn so many new names within a short amount of time was a challenge for my memory. I learned the hard way that it was much easier to continually ask for people’s names rather than pretend like I knew their name. It gets pretty awkward when you have had multiple conversations with someone throughout the term but still don’t know their name. Once I would find out someone’s name, I would use it whenever I saw them to make sure I wouldn’t forget it.
These tricks that helped me are like sprinkles on top of an ice cream sundae. They were tiny added benefits that made my first few weeks on campus just a little sweeter. The chocolate ice cream for me was the welcoming CMS basketball family. Coach Scalmanini has developed a family with the principles of hard work, commitment, communication, and love at its core. Joining the CMS basketball family is a privilege and I want to thank them for taking me in so quickly. Go Stags!
Mitchell Kirsch | Men's Basketball
Claremont McKenna - 2021