I spoke with a girl this summer who just started her freshman year at Sam. She expressed her anxiety about going to school here and said, “There’s nothing to do in Huntsville – the only thing there is a prison.”
I asked, “What do you usually do on a Friday night? Drink, hang out with friends, go to the movies?”
She said yes to all three. Well lucky her, Huntsville offers all those things.
This vignette raises an excellent question for students at Sam, and especially for incoming freshmen. What is there to do while at Sam? Obviously, Huntsville isn’t a big city like Houston, Dallas or Austin, so it won’t have the broad palette of restaurants and entertainment options.
While I don’t know the ins and outs of Huntsville, I will dispense what wisdom I wish I had as a freshman.
First of all, make the grade. If you study your ass off and make a C, great, but don’t settle for a 3.0 GPA. Sam offers numerous programs to help students boost their grades (The Writing Center, Major-specific tutors and SAM 101 to name a few). The main objective at college for most people is to place themselves in the best career or grad school they can.
Get to know your professors. At the very least, have the courage to approach them for help if you need it. Those that are willing to help you won’t hesitate to if they’re asked. Those that aren’t interested in helping you aren’t very good at their job.
Make Huntsville your home while you are here, not a pit stop between your visits back to your hometown.
Not everyone can have the Bearkat zeal that former SGA President Chris Whitaker had. That doesn’t mean we can’t act proud to be at Sam and support our school. Own at least three Sam shirts – if you got them for free, all the better. Wear them to class or to the games. DON’T wear stuff from other colleges. Do you think anyone at Baylor wears UT stuff?
Go to Shenanigans, the Fox, Tops and Bottoms and Stardust Room at least once. But don’t make the bars a second home unless you need to.
Go to Potato Shack often. Go to The Junction for special dinners. Go to The Homestead for anniversaries and the like.
Go to the games, plays, film festivals or anything you can do for free (or cheap) for entertainment while you’re here. If after that you’re still bored, then you’re permitted to say, “There’s nothing to do in Huntsville.” Before that, enjoy wishing you were somewhere else.
Get your money’s worth every semester. Find out what your tuition is paying for: sports events, on campus movies, library/computer lab access, student health, and graduate exam prep courses.
This isn’t high school where everyone falls into his or her own niche. In college, you have to seek it out. You pick your major, classes, daily routine and circle of friends. Here, you are fully responsible for whether or not your time is enjoyable and rewarding.