Herrington: Welcome to the Hill, Class of 2016

Caitlin Herrington

Freshmen, on behalf of the College Heights Herald staff, welcome to Western Kentucky University!

On a personal note, welcome to the best four years of your life.

You may think I’m kidding or being sappy, which may be true, but the closer I get to graduation, the more I value my experiences here on the Hill.

The Hill isn’t the same as it was three years ago. Believe it or not, when I came here in the fall of 2009, South Lawn extended all the way from Downing University Center to the front of Preston Center. DaVinci’s was brand new, the food court at the bottom of campus had ice cream and the fitness center inside Preston didn’t exist. Gary Ransdell Hall was just a drawing, we were begging for a third parking structure and apartment-style housing was something we could only dream of.

All of these are now a reality, and they’re part of the reality that you’re living. The Hill is changing and growing, much like you will throughout your stay here.

You’ll find that nobody here is going to force you to do anything. You must realize that it’s up to you to get up and go to class, do your homework and find time to eat. Professors here will push you to be your best. They won’t hold your hand while you cross the proverbial street into college, but if you ask, they are known to go out of their way to help a student who desires success.

Nobody on the Hill can force you to make wise decisions, though we may have plenty of advice to offer.

Go to class. Get involved with a group. Don’t sit in your dorm room all day. Do your homework. Take those lanyards off your necks. Go to Great American Donut Shop at 3 a.m.  (GADS is open 24/7, so feel free to go at any hour, really.) Shower. Please, oh please, shower. Study — not just the night before the test. Take your classes seriously. Ask for help when you need it. Get to know your RA and the people on your floor. Don’t use Facebook during class. Explore Bowling Green. Take the purple and yellow bus lines downtown. As my daddy would say, “Don’t be stupid.”

Play intramural sports, or just go watch. Don’t spend your weekends at home. Go to the football games. And soccer. And softball. And basketball. Don’t stress out. Don’t be the person who fries eggplant for Valentine’s day, sets off the smoke alarm and locks people out of the building for an hour. (True story.)

Use your meal plans wisely. If you have leftover meal plan dollars, use them to buy snacks for breaks. Invest in the milkshakes in Redzone — combine caramel and chocolate and you will never go back. Don’t stress out over classes. Decorate your room. Get a photo with Big Red (take your hat off first). Avoid doing laundry on the weekends. Don’t wear your lanyard around your neck…did I already say that?

I know this is a lot, don’t try too hard to impress anyone. Be yourself. If you don’t like your major, change it. If you don’t like your hair, change it. If you don’t like your attitude, change it. If you don’t like the people you’re hanging out with, change friends. The people you meet here will be the ones who carry you through the ups and downs of becoming an adult.

College is all about change — embrace it.

The campus you see today won’t be the campus your friends and family visit for your commencement ceremony. More importantly, you won’t be the same person you are today.

The Hill is what you make it, so choose to make it the best.

So, to the Class of 2016, welcome to the Hill. But more importantly?

Welcome home.

— Caitlin Herrington is the managing editor of the College Heights Herald for fall 2012.