Advice For Incoming First Years



June 16, 2016

This piece was originally featured in the spring 2016 edition of the College Guide

Picking a roommate:

“The most important thing when choosing a roommate is not necessarily looking at who you have the most fun with, but someone you can tolerate for long amounts of time. Having fun is really important, but you need to make sure that you can mesh well with the person you’re living with. Your communication styles need to be similar or at least work well together. If they don’t, living together could be really challenging, especially your first year.”

— Ruth Ferguson, University of Washington in Seattle, Class of 2015

Joining Greek life:

“I think it is important to be a part of something in college, whether that something is Greek life, a particular organization, a volunteer opportunity or a job. You should be a part of something. I thought it was important to be a part of an organization that gave me an opportunity to meet new people and to be a part of a social group. That’s one of the hardest things for freshmen, finding your social group. A fraternity facilitates that, but you have to make sure that it is the right fit for you. You need to make sure that you are able to balance your pledging and academics. You go to college for the academics, so make sure you have all your work done.”

—   Dan Rosenberg, George Washington University, Class of 2014

Maintaining Jewish identity:

 “My Jewish identity changed a lot in college. College is the time and place to explore new ideas and philosophies, so get after it! I tried many things after my trip to Israel, but nothing really stuck with me. Eventually, I became active in Hillel. It took most of my collegiate career to finally find something that worked for me. The point is that very few people maintain the same Jewish identities throughout college and that’s OK. Experiment with different practices. Put yourself in new and sometimes uncomfortable situations. That is how you grow, how you can feel proud of being Jewish in your own way.” 

—   Alex Rabhan, University of Miami, Class of 2015

Overcoming homesickness:

“The trick is trying to find things that can fill your day in between classes. I joined the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Phi Sigma Pi (National Honor Fraternity), interned off campus each semester and plenty more. This helped distract me from thinking about my family and friends too much. Also, you should try to surround yourself with friends; it will help keep your mind busy.”

—   Elise Katz, American University, Class of 2014

Picking a major:

 “If you think you know what you want to major in when you start college, then you should pursue that. If you don’t, I suggest going into college undecided. Freshman year is a great time to take a variety of classes that can spark different interests. If you want to change your major down the road, realize that plenty of people change their major and career paths while they are in college.”

—   Rachel Horowitz, University of Hartford, Class of 2012

Avoiding the ‘Freshman 15’/Staying fit:

 “I did not avoid the ‘Freshman 15,’ so looking back, I would have done a couple things differently: not ordering pizza or sandwiches late at night, avoiding late-night snacking. Try setting deadlines for yourself; give yourself a snacking curfew.”

— Ilana Goldman, Lawrence University, Class of 2015