The Daily Aztec

I’m the editor-in-chief. Here’s my unsolicited advice to freshmen.

by Will Fritz, Editor in Chief

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You can do anything you can put your mind to. And never stop fighting.

I know these sound like clichés, and that’s because they are. But they still ring true. They are, in fact, the two biggest pieces of advice I can give you.

Freshmen, I know the Editor in Chief of The Daily Aztec may sound like some scary all-powerful demonic being (at least that’s how it comes across if you’re in the newsroom for the first time as a brand-new writer; I’m speaking from experience here). But three short years ago, I was right where you are: alone on an unfamiliar, sprawling campus with a stranger for a roommate and no idea how I wanted to spend my college career.

So here I am, older and probably not that much wiser. I’m going to tell you a bit about my experience. I’m going to give you some advice. Maybe you’ll take it, maybe you won’t – that’s entirely up to you. But here goes.

My first semester on campus, lacking a purpose, I tried to drown myself in minimum-wage work – guys, just FYI, working overnight shifts at McDonald’s is not conducive to a high GPA.

After a semester of that, I realized I needed to a) figure out what I was actually going to major in and b) get some experience in it.

Considering I had applied to San Diego State as a journalism major, and also considering my favorite writer ever, J. Michael Straczynski, is a Daily Aztec alum (I’m a closet Sci-Fi geek, guilty as charged) I figured I ought to give the school newspaper a shot.

Best decision of my life. You know that feeling you get when you meet someone and everything just snaps together like two Lego bricks? That’s how I felt when I walked into my first news meeting and met the news team at The Daily Aztec. I instantly realized I had found where I needed to be.

Seriously, just find your passion. I know you hear that a lot, but it really is true. Find it early, too. You don’t want to be a senior just barely finding your niche and taking orders from sophomores.

Your passion doesn’t have to be journalism – much as I’d love to meet all of you and have you come work for me. But it does have to be something that you walk into for the very first time and think “this is home.”

Now, that’s not to say it’s going to be easy. In fact, very little is ever easy. Get used to it.

Wherever you end up, always remember you’re starting on the ground floor. No one cares you were the class president or the football team captain or the group commander of your JROTC unit. You have to prove yourself all over again. Whatever it is you want, you have to earn it.

So give nobody the satisfaction of being able to say they work harder than you. Be the first one in and the last one out, no matter what it is you’re doing. You can rest when you’re dead.

But still, be humble. Your superiors will respect you for it.

Never make excuses for yourself. Never, ever, feel sorry for yourself. Even when it’s tough. Some people have it easy, and some people have it really hard. But at the end of the day, we’re all here on the same campus, being judged by the same standards.

Ignore the haters – and no matter where you end up, you’ll find plenty of them. You’re just not trying hard enough if you don’t have at least a few enemies. Or at least that’s the way it works in journalism. Doing something good is going to piss the bad people off, so learn to thrive on their contempt.

Most importantly, keep an open mind. You’re going to meet people who have lives and perspectives completely different from your own – be eager to learn from them and don’t shut them out because they’re different, or because their way of thinking doesn’t align with yours. Having covered all kinds of political issues on this campus, I can tell you that you can still hold firm to your own beliefs while being able to listen to and respect people with the opposite views.

Have fun, too, of course. Try new things. Go to new places. Be safe, but don’t hold yourself back. If ever there was a time to make decisions you’ll regret in the morning, it’s college.

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