Congratulations, class of 2021! A fabulous combination of your dedication, long study nights and endless papers have landed you the outstanding opportunity to make Loyola Marymount your new home this fall semester. We hope you'll fit right in to our welcoming community of scholars, and to make this transition easier, I have compiled a list of must-knows for your freshman year.

Throughout this guide, you'll learn the ins and outs of attending a small, private Jesuit institution on the edge of the beautiful Los Angeles bluff.

1. Know the mission statement by heart.

Ciara Freeman

LMU's Catholic identity and religious heritage are reflected in its mission statement, which all freshmen are introduced to for the first time at summer orientation. The university strives to form a diverse community by welcoming individuals across the globe with various talents, interests and cultural backgrounds. You'll be hearing LMU's mission often, so I would get to know the statement now: "The encouragement of learning, the education of the whole person and the service of faith and the promotion of justice."

2. Don't always eat at the Lair.

With its central location and ease of access, the Lair has become a popular choice for on-campus dining. However, its prices are high, the choices are limited and the lines are never-ending. There are several other places to try on campus, including the Pizza Hut/Mein Bowl, Iggy's Diner, Roski Dining, The Crimson Lion, Starbucks, Coffee Bean/Tea Leaf, Einstein Bros. Bagels/Caribou Coffee, Jamba Juice and even food trucks! Expand your palate once in a while.

3. Fall for Fallapalooza!

LMU offers several different opportunities to have fun with friends and listen to live music, one being Fallapalooza. Hosted by our student government organization, ASLMU, this music festival features several notable performers as well as delicious food trucks each year. Bebe Rexha and Aloe Blacc performed this year. Be sure to attend in the fall!

4. Your one card will become your life.

Imagine losing access to your bed, your entire residence hall itself, all on-campus restaurants and certain classes. This is essentially what becomes of you if you were to ever misplace your one card. Sure, temporary cards are available, but they have an expiration. Also, replacement cards run for $15 each. Look after your one card like you would your new iPhone.

5. Take a trip with the Lion Express.

A free shuttle that will take me to Santa Monica beach? Where do I sign up? Operating similar to a bus system with a set schedule, the Lion Express is a free shuttle service offered to all LMU students, with or without a car. It travels students to popular destinations close to campus, including Venice Beach, Playa Vista, the Westfield Mall and even LAX.

6. Make the journey to U-Hall worth it.

Most incoming freshmen will probably take a class located in our university hall, on the complete opposite side of the freshman dorms. To say the walk is lengthy would be an understatement. Therefore, you could either buy a bike, grab a skateboard or make the entire trip worth it! Although far away, U-Hall is home to the mailroom, three of the top on-campus restaurants, a meditation garden, professors' offices, multiple study rooms and more!

7. Utilize our library study rooms.

Ciara Freeman

One of the most prized possessions and most treasured spots on-campus is our library, offering views of Los Angeles's city, several beaches and mountains. Many students rent out study rooms by the hour because it's nice to have a quiet room to study by yourself sometimes. Just be sure to request them a couple weeks in advance during finals week, as they fill up quickly.

8. Don't be afraid to take that Brazilian Booty class.

Bring a friend or go alone and get your fitness on! LMU's FitWell Center offers over 40 classes each week in yoga, cycling, Zumba dance and more! Each class is taught by a certified fitness instructor and is open to all Burns Recreation Center members. (As an LMU student, that includes you!) No one will laugh at you doing your squats, I promise.

9. Take advantage of the Student Psychological Services.

Our Student Psychological Services has become a necessity for some fellow Lions. At SPS, there are confidential individual and group therapy sessions, counselors and psychologists ready to assist you with any mental needs at no charge. LMU truly cares about the overall well-being of its students, so give them the ability to prove it.

10. Don't buy textbooks you don't really need.

This tip may be a given, but you'd be surprised at the amount of money wasted upon completing a class due to buying expensive textbooks. If possible, email your professor and past members of the class beforehand and ask if the textbook will actually be used. If in the instance that you do waste money, try to sell your textbooks on Book Scouter or Textbook Rush.

11. Get birthday dunked in Foley fountain at midnight.

A classic LMU freshman tradition is getting carried to be dropped into the fountain on your birthday at midnight. There's not really a way of getting out of this, so just embrace the cold water like a champ (or hide in your room like I did).

12. Network, network, network!

Ciara Freeman

Southern California recognizes LMU as a distinguished, emerging community of academic scholars and because of this, several prominent leaders frequently visit campus to advise students with their careers. LMU hosts an annual career fair where companies and CEOs set up booths to recruit and educate students looking for jobs and internships. Many well-known celebrities and entertainers also visit LMU to share their secrets and inspire the future generation. Be sure to keep business cards handy at these events.

13. Download Tapingo!

By far the most time-saving application there is, Tapingo helps students place meal orders without having to wait in lines! Most of our on-campus dining utilizes this service, and there are also many off-campus vendors that are available on the app as pick-ups! This article was not sponsored by Tapingo; it's simply a fan-favorite.

14. Please don't take 8 a.m. classes.

No matter how early you could wake up in high school, 8 a.m. classes in college are a whole different ball game. Please, allow yourself time to get ready in the morning without rushing and increasing the risk of being late! Unlike high school, your class is just down the street, after all.

15. Get outside – enjoy your beautiful campus!

There are unlimited opportunities to bask in the sunshine and to also find serene meditation spots at sunset, including hiking, biking and simply taking a walk out on the bluff. Appreciate the view and accessibility many others are jealous of while you can.

College doesn't last forever, so I hope you all take full advantage of the numerous opportunities that Loyola Marymount University offers. This is truly a school that values you for more than just your SAT scores and GPA, and I am honored to be able to call LMU my home away from home. Study hard, and I wish you all nothing but the best in the years ahead.

Lead Image Credit: Ciara Freeman