I Wish I Had Known: Freshmen Reflect on Their First Semester of College
Written by Breana Noble
From the excitement and nerves of living on their own to the panic and stress realized during “Hell Week” and finals week, students’ first semester of college is a learning experience. Freshmen had the opportunity to share exactly what they would tell themselves if they could travel back in time to before starting college.
Mackenzie Yaussy wishes she had spent more time studying in high school to better prepare herself for the workload in college: “There’s definitely a lot more studying that’s done here than what we had to do in high school,” Yaussy said. “It definitely would have been helpful to start building up that foundation of good study habits before coming to college.”
Having to learn these practices in college became a difficult task for some students. However, they often find it rewarding when they overcome the challenge: “I would remind myself to not quit just because it’s hard. There’s great reward in pushing through, persevering, and doing things right,” Hans Noyes said.
The students also stressed the value of not just doing well in school, but actually taking something from the lessons taught. As Jacob Weaver said, “Don’t take yourself too seriously. Getting a B in college is not the end of the world. Come in with that mindset that you’re really here to learn, not just to get amazing grades.” He encourages students to view a low grade as an opportunity for improvement and for growth as a person and as a student.
While a major part of the college life is homework, writing essays, and studying for exams, there’s a whole lot of life outside of the textbook. Anna Zemaitaitis reflected, “It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I thought all of my time was going to be taken up by school, and I wasn’t going to have fun. But I have had time, and I have had fun, and I can still study, too.”
The students have found a community at college as they join organizations for their particular interests. Dustin Pletan explained, “Focus on extracurricular activities and things that really make for a whole person. That’s part of the whole college experience. Here, it’s not just classes; it’s all these other things. Whether that’s volunteering or clubs, definitely go for that.”
While the students expressed their delight in their relationships they’ve formed so far, their academic accomplishments, and their achievements in extracurricular activities, they eagerly await what lies ahead of them in the rest of their time in college: “I feel like the seniors are very confident and put together,” Zemaitaitis said. “I look forward to being at that point where I know what I’m doing, I’m happy with myself, and I’m ready to go into the adult world.”
Breana Noble is a freshman at Hillsdale College and plans to study Politics and Journalism. She writes for “The Collegian” newspaper at Hillsdale and works as an assistant in the Hillsdale College Athletics office. Breana is also involved in Swing Club, Young Americans for Freedom, College Republicans, and “The Nest” Bible Study.