I sit and sink into my lounge chair as I think back to my freshman year. I can't believe it's been three years since I joined the UMass community. The saying "time flies" is scary accurate in relation to college. If I could go back, this is what I would tell myself:
1. The first month is hard, but it gets better! I remember my first September away from home was a tough one. The hardest part was seeing my family leave after they moved me in on the very first day. I had never even gone to camp as a kid. After talking about it with other students I realized a lot of them felt the same way as me. Any major life change is going to be difficult, but just know you are never alone. Now UMass is like my second home!
2. Join a club. In high school, I always played on a sports team, whether it be soccer or cross-country. A team meant automatic friends. To replicate this experience in college, I wish I joined a club my freshman year. It would have been a great way to meet new people and learn about an organization.
3. Sit in the front. My freshman year, I had a lot of big lecture classes with hundreds of students. I fell into the habit of sitting toward the back of the room. Sitting in the front eliminates the distraction of other student’s computer screens glaring at you. Also, I can hear and see the notes better when I’m closer.
4. Work on your résumé. I don’t think I even looked at my résumé my freshman year of college. So when I started to apply to internships my sophomore year I was lost. Thankfully, Career Services, located in Goodell Hall, was there to help! There, I received counseling on what to put on my résumé and where I should be applying.
5. Start looking for internships early. If I could go back, I would start applying to internships starting the summer after my freshman year. Internships are especially helpful if you aren’t sure about the career path you want to take. The more “real world” experience you get, the better.
6. Go to the gym! The only time I went to the gym my freshman year was to grab a smoothie. Other than that, I steered clear of it. Working out is a great way to de-stress and creating gym playlists can be a fun hobby. This is advice I still need to remind myself to follow.
7. Talk to your professors. I rarely visited my professors my freshman year during their office hours. I think I must have been too intimidated or nervous. Thinking back this sounds ridiculous, but the big school environment was new to me. I still don’t visit my professors as much as I should, but now if I was ever confused about a topic I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out. Before, I would never even think of doing so. They have office hours for a reason, and they are here to help.
8. So much will change. I would remind myself to stop worrying about change because it's unavoidable. Every single year will be unique, and that’s okay. It shows you’re growing and evolving as a person.