Whether you’re commuting to school from home, moving away for college, or entering the dorms; freshman year can be a nerve-wracking time. While orientation will be a good introduction to the community and environment your campus creates, there are some other things you need to prepare yourself for when choosing to attend Michigan Technological University. 

Winter is HERE 

When choosing to get your higher education degree at Michigan Tech, there is one thing you need to prepare yourself mentally and physically for besides the tough academics: winter. With a yearly average of 270 inches of snow, this peninsula celebrates the frigid times in many ways. Tech prides itself on their #tenacity, which can be hard to maintain when there is that much annual snow fall from early October to March/June. The draft the Portage creates between the buildings on campus can be brutal when these temperatures drop; but don't worry, there will still be people wearing shorts and tennis shoes.

So, to help the students enjoy the snow rather than loathe it, Tech began the long-standing tradition of what is now known as Winter Carnival (Carni History: here). With these two and a half days off of classes to celebrate the frigid temperatures, really brightens campus moral. Unfortunately, these two and a half days are still probably the only ‘snow days’ you will have since the university is notorious for not cancelling even when temperatures reach into the negatives, heavy snowfall, or icy roads (which honestly usually aren’t icy because the U.P. knows how to prep and take care of the roads during the winter).

In fact, the Dean of students at the time, Bonnie Gorman, sent out an email to the entire school body when it was roughly –17 degrees saying ‘wear a hat’. Better yet, the following carni she passed out hats saying ‘wear a hat- Bonnie'. 

TIP: If your family or friends want to visit during Winter Carnival, let them know they need to book their lodging way in advance. A lot of people renew their booking at their hotel for the next years carni dates BEFORE they even check out for that year.

Enjoy the U.P.! 

This might go without saying, but the entirety of the U.P. is like one big campground. With such vast and beautiful views, it is hard not to let your inner adventurer out. Places like Pictured Rocks, Mount Bohemia, Porcupine Mountains and all of Copper Harbor are probably the first places one should visit. Not just the land is worth exploring up here, Lake Superior is known as a shipwreck graveyard and there are a few boats where diving is offered. Rock hunting is another big attraction of the U.P. since there are so many different minerals to be found: copper, yooperlite, petoskey stones, etc. Being so near to Canada, the U.P. is big for ornithology (study of birds) and Whitefish Point has helped contribute information related to 340 bird species migrating, mating, and their environmental patterns.  

Embrace the Local Community

With Houghton, MI being as small as it is, the majority of the towns population comes from the student and faculty at Michigan Tech. No matter the season or size of the town, people flood the Keweenaw County for all sorts of outdoor fun. Some must visit places include: Suomi's Bakery & Restaurant in the morning, the Jam Lady on your way to Copper Harbor, and JJ's Wok N Grill for the best chinese food ever. There are so many small town local gems that make your Michigan Tech experience even more exciting, listing them would be too much. Overall, just remember to take the time away from the stress of studying and classes to enjoy the beautiful views and opportunities the U.P. has to offer.

P.S. Joey Michael Jackson, you're the towns icon, and forever will be.

Embrace the School Community 

The severity of the course loads along with the harsh winters can make the #tenacity harder to obtain. Due to this, it is important to remember there are an abundance of resources available to help you: study groups, office hours, tutor centers, etc. Since Tech is aware of their harder courses, take advantage of the mental health resources they provide. Also, checking your email daily is VITAL if you want to remain connected in any way to the campus and your classes. 

Greek life lives on. Michigan Tech has fraternities and sororities both connected to the university, and ones not affiliated with the university. While greek life isn’t for everyone, the national charters have great connections for any member after graduation along with the skills learned from helping with charity and campus events. Though there are so many bonuses to greek life, unlike school clubs, a lot is demanded from members: must live in the house with (roughly) 15 other people whether you wish to or not, must ‘volunteer’ a certain number of hours every semester, must attend certain number of social events, and more.  

Clubs, clubs, and more clubs. I can honestly say as a Tech alum who has balanced work, internships, and my general courses I wouldn’t have maintained that balance if it wasn’t for joining a club (shoutout to Women’s Club Rugby). With an abundance of clubs to meet and choose from, the options can be a little overwhelming but you’re bound to find something of interest. If you don’t find something, then as long as you have 7 other people interested, you can start your own club.  

While it is understandable so many people view joining clubs and greek life on campus as extra time away from their already busy schedules; these clubs get you socializing in different circles and majors, actually get some physical exercise, and travel to different places. Overall, have fun and enjoy the local community and environment in addition to everything Michigan Tech has to offer. 


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