There are a lot of unanswered questions for high school seniors making the transition to college life. We asked a few current student to give some advice for incoming first-year students. (Do you know someone with a student heading off to college? Consider passing this on.)
Abigale Haug ’19
St. Olaf College
Extracurriculars: Intern at The Aspen Institute, member of Minnesota Association of Private College Students, former undergraduate law clerk at the U.S. Department of Justice and St. Olaf student government.
“Colleges often resemble a ‘bubble.’ By this I mean that you see the same people who worry about the same things and deal with the same issues. While it is fun to be so caught up in the college experience it is easy to forget that the rest of the world is out there. Instead treat college as a time to try new things! Making mistakes sometimes feels like the end of the world but it really never is.”
“Everything you are experiencing during the first few months is new and because of that it can be stressful and feel like you haven’t found a routine. Being able to monitor my schedule and have good time management was something that took time to get used to.”
“Live in the moment. I spent (and still spend) so much time worrying about exams coming up, classes for next semester, how my internship will affect my job after graduation, etc. I wish instead I would have put more effort into staying fully engaged in every classroom discussion, organization meeting and meal with a friend. I’m realizing now that college has flown by!”
“My biggest piece of advice is to be excited for college but also to keep things in perspective — don’t beat yourself up if your experience doesn’t immediately look like the movies. It is okay to have bad days or even bad seasons! That does not take away from the fact that college can still be an amazing experience.”
Tyler Dunn ’19
Concordia University, St. Paul
Extracurriculars: Golf team, member of Minnesota Association of Private College Students, Concordia student government and congressional intern.
“Talk to everyone and look to the upperclassmen for advice. I personally had two teammates who helped me a lot through freshmen year.”
“Don’t go home on the weekends! If you can, don’t go home more than twice in the first semester. You’ll miss out on meeting friends and important experiences.”
“It is essential to know that a bad test score in a 100 level class does not define your college experience. I’m a huge Vikings fan so it hurts to quote Aaron Rodgers but sometimes you just need to R-E-L-A-X.”
“It’s important to know that everyone has struggles their freshmen year. One thing I would have done differently is be more open to new Ideas.”
Kevin Xiong ’18
Extracurriculars: Phillips Scholar, college-access issue area coordinator at Macalester, former teaching fellow at Breakthrough Twin Cities and Macalester’s Summer Live It Fund recipient.
“My advice would be to join organizations. Do something that you are passionate about or something that is important to you.”
“I wish I would have known about networking with campus faculty, staff and administration. I think that college is about who you know and how they can support and further your experience.”
“I learned that it is important to share your experiences and struggles with people. First, this is a way to process your experience: How are you feeling? Do you enjoy your time? Are you struggling? You may find that there are people who share the same struggles as you.”
“What surprised me the most about college was the amount of resources available to try new things. There are funds to create your own projects, to conduct your own research and to attend conferences. Before college I thought that it was a simple track. However, there are so many opportunities for engaged, experiential learning.”