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What I’ve Done Right (and Wrong) at Carleton

Aidan discusses how to make the most out of your Carleton experience!

Aidan discusses how to make the most out of your Carleton experience!

Getting the most out of the Carleton experience is tough. There is so much to do here and not enough time to fit it all in. All things considered, I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of balancing it all, but there are also things I wish I’d taken advantage of earlier! So today I’m going to share my personal recommendations for how to have the best time possible.

What I Did Right

Getting Involved

When I first got to Carleton, I was extremely nervous about meeting new people. New Student Week did a pretty good job getting me set up to succeed, but I knew that I needed to get involved. I strolled up to the Student Activities Fair and told myself by the time I left I would be in at least one club. I was probably a member of twenty clubs when I left. At this point, I’m only truly involved in three, but that first (over-)step helped me to make friends and pursue some of my new passions.

students in snow
When your roommate asks to go make snow angels you should say yes!

Talking to Everyone

I knew one of my big goals for college was to make friends! I’m not the most social person, so I knew this could be a bit of a challenge for me. In order to meet new people, I decided that I would just talk to everyone. Class together? We’re friends now. A club together? Why not also grab a meal together? Just putting yourself out there and asking people to hang out was super important for me.

I love when people just talk to me in class or in the library or anywhere! Even your professors want to talk to you! But it’s kind of difficult to tell sometimes. Although it is mostly a stereotype, Minnesota nice is totally a real thing and you should take advantage of it.

neon lights and students
Join as many communities as possible for fun events like this!


Even though I was pretty certain that I was going to do STEM coming into Carleton, exploring was super important for me. During my freshman winter, I decided to take a course called “It’s the End of the World” just because the title sounded amazing, and it ended up changing my life. Allowing myself to take the courses that interested me allowed me to find what I was truly passionate about. Take advantage of those Curricular Exploration Requirements! Be passionate about courses like your A&I even if it might not be exactly what you think you want to study! Odds are you might not have discovered yet what you’re gonna end up studying.

ceramics by students
I discovered my love for ceramics in my Arts Practice course!

What I Did Wrong

I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job at Carleton in most capacities. So my problems mostly all boil down to one thing.

Not Taking Advantage of My Resources

We have so many resources available at Carleton that I just never take advantage of. There are workers paid to help you succeed. Don’t feel embarrassed about asking for help. Everyone needs it, don’t struggle in silence like me. Even though I’ve started using a lot of these now, I wish I had started earlier I’ll list some of the services here.

    • Reference Librarians: They will help you do research for any assignment you need to do research for! If you struggle with finding sources, you have to go to them.
    • The Writing Center: The student workers here will help you at any step of the writing process. Whether you’re just looking to improve sentence clarity or need help structuring your paper, they can help you. (I love going to make sure my sentences aren’t too long. I do love a run-on sentence.)
    • The Math Skills Center: Kind of like the writing center, but instead of writing the workers here will help you with any homework problems from your math classes that you’re struggling with.
    • Other Random Things: There are so many resources I just had no clue about. You can get a locker to store your instrument if you like Music. Who knew there are lockers in the library to store your books? If you want to practice your language skills, there are tables in the Dining Hall to practice speaking with other people. Just so many things that make going to school that little bit easier.

Concluding Thoughts

Even though I’ve done pretty well with my time here so far, I still haven’t taken advantage of all that Carleton has to offer. I’m not sure I ever will. If I even tap into fifty percent of Carleton’s opportunities, I’ll feel like I’ve done a pretty good job!



Aidan (he/him) is a junior from Batavia, IL coming back to Northfield after a semester off-campus in Paris. He is a Religion and French and Francophone Studies double major with a passion for ceramics. Outside of class, he enjoys spending his time cooking, hanging out with his housemates in the Culinary Interest House, and performing in Carleton’s sketch comedy group. You can often find him at the campuses’ two dining halls chatting with other students while working as a student dining hall manager.