I remember a time, long ago, when we had a different president in the Oval Office and a good ol' Tennessean leading our boys through the T.

Ah, when I was a freshman.

The year was 2008, and it was actually yesterday. Or at least, that's what it feels like.

This year, I have enjoyed my sixth first day of classes, and my fifth year of watching freshman stumble around looking for buildings. I will celebrate my sixth PDM, but only my third, more politically correct FNO (First Night Out).

In all this time, I've learned a few things that I will be sharing with you in this column.

My beloved little freshmen, I would like to give you a little advice today. I know you know everything, but here goes.

Above all else, keep your school in order and build good habits now. Classes come in waves of difficulty and ease, so be wary of the urge to ignore your responsibilities. It won't be easy forever. Stay on top of your stuff, and you will save yourself a lot of time and stress down the road.

Secondly, go make some friends, and make a lot of them fast. This is a huge university with a lot of great people. Go meet them. If you do not have people to eat with by the time you find this column, you are not being aggressive enough. Go shake some hands and make some friends.

And speaking on relationships, would you all slow your roll on hooking up with each other and partying? It's college – all that will happen. These girls/guys are not going anywhere, and as my dad says, "They make more beer every day." Get yourself settled in and make a few friends before you go prowling around the Fort looking for a keg to drown yourself in.

As scary as it may be, do not hesitate to ask for help. While we might laugh a little or bust your chops, older students really do enjoy giving you all advice while helping you classes. Don't just wear your lanyard and wander around looking like a lost puppy. Although it's hilarious, I would really rather you just ask where your class is.

In between classes, if you're bored and maybe a little lonely, do not sit in your dorm room and wait for something to happen. Get off your futon and partake in the social lightening round of life that your first semester of college is.

You can always find people out and about who would be happy to meet you. My freshman year, I made friends with all the smokers outside Hess Hall. I never smoked with them, but would instead just sit and chat while they indulged in their vice. Turns out smokers are some of the friendliest people around, assuming they have their nicotine.

Lastly, go do things.

The university and a lot of students spend huge amounts of money, time and effort into providing stuff for you all to partake in all the time. And that is only a small part of what is available to do around here. Knoxville has some beautiful places in and around it; do not wait to go enjoy them.

Now, I would like to end a few of my columns with a tip for getting involved on campus.

This week, Freshman Council and Alternative Fall Break are accepting applications.

Freshmen interested in SGA, which offers the opportunity to change university policies and impact student life, can apply for Freshman Council before Aug. 28.

Alternative Fall Break is a service trip where instead of going home for Fall Break, you travel to another city and do a few volunteer projects with some of your peers. I went on AFB in 2009, and I highly recommend it. I'm still in touch with a number of the people from that trip, and one of my favorite college memories was from that weekend.

Applications are due by Sept. 2.

Nate Talbot is a senior in mechanical engineering. He can be reached at ntalbot1@utk.edu.