Opinion: A first-year’s reflections on their first semester

I’ve found that being passionate about your dreams is cool in college, which wasn’t my experience in high school.


Piper Summer, Contributing Writer

When it’s your first year of college, it’s impossible to know what to expect. This was especially true for me, a high school dropout and GED student who hadn’t been in a traditional school environment since the beginning of sophomore year.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous about academics. I had some jitters, but my biggest concern was social. After not consistently talking to people my age for a year, I was nervous that I had forgotten how to connect with my peers. Adding to that stress, my childhood best friend, who was going to attend Simmons and room with me, decided to return to Phoenix during orientation. 

The loneliness was hard to cope with for the first couple of weeks. I would return to my undecorated dorm, save for a Kurt Vonnegut plush doll and a “READ” pennant from the bookstore, and worried that I made the wrong choice. However, I was determined to make it work. I introduced myself to random students in the dining hall, knocked on my neighbor’s doors, and participated in class. A few weeks in, I ended up lucking out with a roommate that, while randomly assigned, has quickly become my best friend and confidante.

Of course, as the semester progressed, other challenges presented themselves. No one expects to lose a friend during their first semester of college, and processing that grief was, and still is, profoundly difficult. Having the support of my friends and members of the Simmons community has helped, and processing that grief with others that knew her gave me some solace. 

Adjusting to a new climate and culture has also been challenging, but connecting with fellow West Coasters has made me feel more at home. Not being able to look at the sky to tell the weather forecast has been frustrating, but being able to laugh about it with my friends when I’m dressed in a tank top for 30-degree weather has made me feel better.

One of my favorite parts of college has been my professors. I joke that I make myself my professors’ problem, often going in for office hours weekly and frequently giving them updates about my projects and aspirations. I’ve found that being passionate about your dreams is cool in college, which wasn’t my experience in high school. Their enthusiastic support has allowed me to explore opportunities with more confidence.

If I could give any advice to incoming first-year students knowing what I know now, it would be to breathe. It takes time to meet your friends and even more time to find your best friends. You will inevitably encounter drama, even if you’re the nicest person on the planet. (My rule of thumb is that unless you mess up catastrophically, no one will be talking about it in two weeks). Also, school is not worth your sanity, ever. There’s no harm in asking for an extension, and missing a class once in a while won’t kill your GPA.

This semester has been the beginning of what I believe will be an incredible next four years, and I can’t wait to see what next semester holds.