Being a freshman in college can be both exciting and scary, as anything that is new and full of unknowns can be. Everything that you experience this first year, you are experiencing for the first time, which is a much different experience than any of the other years in college. It’s your first time being away from home without your parents, your first time living with strangers, and your first time taking complete responsibility for yourself and all of your decisions.
It can be overwhelming, and it may feel like you need someone holding your hand every step you take, but this is also your first step towards your independence.
Senior year of college on the other hand, is experienced through a completely different lens. It tends to be a year filled with a lot of reflection, looking at how far you have come from when you first stepped foot onto campus.
Seniors here at Merrimack College were asked the question, “What advice would you give to your freshman year self knowing what you know now?”
Let’s take a look at the top three pieces of advice that were shared.
- Try to get involved in clubs and organizations around campus. Try to network early and do internships as soon as possible.
Sedona Gillard is a senior biology major. She is an RA, FYE mentor, member of the track team, the Green Team, and just recently founded the Book Club.
“Reach out for research and different opportunities like that because they won’t come to you if you don’t put the work in to get them,” shared Gillard. “Getting rejected is better than not trying at all.”
Roommates Spencer Lee and Sam Valenti had similar advice to give.
They talked about how important it is to apply yourself as much as possible, in many clubs and career events around campus. “They’re massively beneficial and the more that you go to, the less scary it gets,” says Lee.
Sam made the point that the main reason you go to college to begin with is to apply yourself professionally.
“You’re here to get a job after [you graduate], so start working on your LinkedIn, start networking, start applying for internships earlier than everyone else, start idealizing what you want your career to be in and try new things professionally.”
- Always be open to meeting new people, whether it be by joining a club, or talking to someone in one of your classes. However at the same time, be intentional with who you spend your time with, and what relationships you put your effort into.
Kailyn Bowie, Sadie Tosch, and Madigan Saunders are roommates that reflected on how close they have grown to be with one another. They talked about how one of the coolest things about the people they live with is that they all have such different interests and involvements on campus- no two are alike.
“I would say don’t care what people think about you and to talk to the people that you think are weirdos,” shared Bowie as she smiled glancing over at her roommates, “those people might end up being your best friends.”
Sadie described how she wished that she was able to be herself without worrying about what others (including her old roommates) thought of her, especially during her freshman year. She has fully embraced the things she loves, such as theater, which is something that she has been able to bond over with her roommates that she lives with now.
Madigan, who had been sitting and listening to what her two roommates had to share, disclosed how she wouldn’t want to be as trusting with some people if she could be a freshman again.
“I would just be careful with who you surround yourself with. There were a lot of good people that I have gotten out of it, but there were a lot of people I wish I wasn’t as close with,” said Saunders.
Saunders made the point that while it is good to stay open minded to meeting new people, it is also important to remain cautious with who you consider to be trustworthy because not everyone has pure intentions of wanting to be your friend.
- Your roommate does NOT need to be your best friend.
Bridget Slocum, a freshman year RA in Monican Centre attested to this, drawing from personal experience.
“I’m a transfer student that was placed in a room with people of all different class years. It was beneficial for me to meet people outside of my suite so that I had resources outside of my room that were in my own class year,” Slocum explained. “If you’re just sticking to your roommates and not meeting other people, you’re isolating yourself and not allowing yourself to meet as many people.”
It is good to have a mix of roommates and non-roommates in your circle with a variety of different involvements and interests, so that you are not limiting yourself to one specific group.
Harrison Bell, who is also a freshman year RA, expressed the importance of understanding that your roommate doesn’t have to be your best friend.
“You just have to be compatible to live with each other and it’s okay to not have similar interests. I think that’s honestly better because when you live with someone and you’re so close to them and something happens, you still have to live there.”
The advice that has been shared is to help freshman year be easier to navigate, as these are all individuals who have lived it and are preparing to graduate this spring. However, it can still be a lot to take in.
Another piece of advice that Harrison Bell shared best summarizes how to approach freshman year so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming:
“A lot of people are going to tell you to jump into everything at once but that can be a lot and that can be super stressful. Take things one thing at a time, one day at a time. You won’t be able to make intentional friendships and long lasting ones if you spread yourself too thin.”
Remember, your college experience is what you make of it, so take control of your own path and your own future.