Letters to First Years: You Don't Need This Letter


Congrats, Class of 2021! You made it to your fourth week of college. Take a deep breath, and give yourself a pat on the back for surviving the wilderness, sitting through hours of orientation and icebreakers, and finding your classrooms. Not to mention, several of you have probably interviewed for a position at one or more of the on-campus institutes, auditioned for an a cappella group, or even applied to your very first job.

And if none of the above, you’ve been bombarded with emails from all the clubs you signed up for at the Club Fair or have drowned (at least once) in all the assigned reading for FHS. I know that these first few weeks have been overwhelming, stressful, exciting, and nerve-wracking, to say the least, but you’re still here, and you deserve a whole lot more credit for it than you think you do.

Yes, you completed one of the toughest periods of your college career. You did. Granted, you had the support of your peers, FYGs, RAs, professors, and faculty, but at the end of the day, you’re the one who got stuff done. You didn’t need me or any other senior telling you what to do in an article. You did it yourself, and you’ll continue to do so.

Judging by the title of the series, an older and wiser upperclassman should be dropping some profound knowledge or words of encouragement about how to be a well-prepared first-year student. Three reasons as to why that won’t be the case with this article:

  1. I may be older but not much wiser.
  2. Surprise! I don’t have all the answers.
  3. You are all well beyond prepared. You already know what to do, and you’ve been crushing it for three weeks now.

I could easily just give you the list of generic CMC advice: go to the Ath often; get to know your professors outside the classroom; “work hard, play hard”; ask for help when you need it; don’t procrastinate; utilize the resources; get involved.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s all great advice. You should do all those things—but let’s be honest, there will be days when you play harder than you work, there are too many resources for you to utilize all of them, and you’ll probably still procrastinate. You’ve heard all of it before (or read it in previous “Letters to Freshmen”), so I won't reiterate them here. 

I could tell you all about my personal regrets, the mistakes I’ve made and the opportunities I missed, in the past three years—for example, not taking my lab science GE until senior year, or not going to more CPB events. I could tell you to avoid faux pas like those and to make smarter choices. But what’s the fun in that?

I actually don’t want you to have a perfect college experience. I want you to stumble along the way and to learn for yourself. College really is what you make of it. You get out what you put in, and you shape your own itinerary here at Camp Claremont. No number of similar articles or advice from upperclassmen and alumni can take that away from you.

You can make it up as you go or you can make a game plan for each day, week, or semester. Either way, you’re going to get through it like you did these past few weeks and have an incredible time.

And if you ever doubt yourself, just know that you can’t go wrong with any decision you make. You gain something out of every experience. Maybe you won’t get an A on that Gov paper because you left it till the last minute, but you’ll probably make some new friends at Poppa that night. Or maybe you didn’t get a position as a career consultant, but you experienced your first behavioral interview.

Whatever the situation, you can turn it into a lesson learned, a worthwhile investment, or a silly story you tell first-years when you’re a senior.

So, I apologize if you were looking for some actual advice and are disappointed that I don't have any. But trust me, you don’t need it. You’re at CMC because you’re one of the best thinkers and doers out there. You’ll figure it out. Besides, it can only go up from here.