What I learned in my first year at Elon: Student Body President Jack Johnson ’20

Jack Johnson '20, student body president, offers incoming first-year students advice about beginning their journeys at Elon. 

Three years after experiencing their own Move-In Day, the Class of 2020 is beginning its final year at Elon. This is one in a series of articles in which members of the senior class offer words of advice to Elon’s newest students. 

Student Government Association President Jack Johnson ’20 offers advice in the first installment of ‘What I learned in my first year at Elon.’

Name: Jack Johnson

Hometown: Manhattan Beach, California

Major: Finance and Policy Studies

Campus Involvement: SGA president, member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Cooking Club

College always appeared scripted before I arrived. “Say goodbye to parents, attend class, check out a party, cheer at a football game, etc.” This was a tried and true formula concocted to deliver “the best days of my life” that every older person I knew had been yapping about for 18 years.

Yet, after three years, I’m here to tell you that the formula doesn’t exist! Your first year alone will offer a million different paths to choose from, and each day is a chance to pick a different one if you want to change it up. Trusting yourself enough to pave your own journey is challenging, but doing so is what college and especially Elon is all about.

P.S. Because I’m sure you’re also looking for some hard tactical advice, here are some other thoughts:

  • To-go boxes from the dining halls are the best things ever made. No reason to go hungry in your room!
  • Four-year plans are super useful if you put the time in on the front end.
  • There is really tasty free food at most tailgates if you get there early enough.
  • Sign up for clubs you’re interested in, but beware of joining too many. Over-commitment can steal your time and – worse! – clutter your email inbox.
  • Everyone inevitably gets homesick. Sharing that helps.
  • The Danieley Center lake – Lake Verona — is a great place to chill outside if you need a break from people.
  • Spend your meal dollars regularly over the semester so you don’t waste them or feel pressured to buy $100 of potato chips on the last day of class.
  • They really do tow you.
  • Get the cell phone numbers of as many people in your building as you can in case you get locked out without your Phoenix Card.
  • To get from Alamance Hall to Danieley, it takes 21 minutes speed-walking and 9 minutes if you’re running.
  • Turn on notifications for your email app so you don’t accidentally show up to class when the professor has canceled it.
  • Random costumes are useful here.
  • Your friends during freshman year may not be life long, but they are still important to your growth.
  • Use the dining hall napkin board! They actually change menus because of it!
  • Don’t be a +7 swipe mooch, but also don’t be stingy if you have a +14.
  • Orientation will teach you more in some ways than your whole first-semester course load. Go to the events.
  • Some washer/dryers are free, and others aren’t. Making good friends can pay.
  • Sign up for classes you never imagined taking. You can find a whole new career path based on one professor.