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The Carletonian

From sophomore year with love: Words of advice to the freshman class

<ugh I was a freshman essentially five minutes ago, I thought I’d go ahead and give some sage advice to the class of 2022. I’ve chosen four things that would have been helpful for me to hear at this time last year, and hopefully it will help someone reading this article!

First, it’s normal to feel like you haven’t met your “forever friends” yet. I think that there’s a hyperfocus on college being the ‘best years of your life,’ which puts an undue amount of pressure on students. I distinctly remember the second week of freshman year, panicked that I didn’t feel like this was the perfect place for me, and that I didn’t think that I had met people that I would be friends with for years after I left Carleton. I wish I had relaxed and acknowledged that it can take time to find friends and develop relationships that have depth and feel more long-term. Everybody connects with people at different paces. If you think that you’re the only person who feels a little lonely, you are definitely not! You likely won’t feel that way for long.

Second, take advantage of Northfield and the Arb. Go into town! Walk in the arb! This campus can get really small really quickly, and you don’t want to feel stifled your first month here. The Arb is massive, and there are countless trails to explore and things to see; if you run, do it there, and if you don’t, just take a stroll through. Also, walk into Northfield and spend time there! Blue Monday and Hideaway are obviously great for studying, but there are also antique stores, thrift stores, an art supply store, a fun book store, and lots more. Northfield is a unique small town with a lot of fun things to find if you spend some time exploring.

Third, do research on classes before you register. This may seem premature, but winter registration is right around the corner. I wasted a lot of my classes in my first year because I didn’t take the time to talk to people about professors, or didn’t look exhaustively at everything offered. You have a limited amount of time here, especially before you pick a major and your workload intensifies, so make sure that you actually enjoy your classes for the first two years. If you’re not feeling it the first few days, drop it for something that you like more. Having classes you hate is the worst, so get out of them while you can.

Fourth, don’t box anything out yet. This is the time when clubs, teams, events, and opportunities are thrown at your face, and it is definitely overwhelming. While you obviously cannot participate in everything Carleton has to offer, I would avoid instinctively saying no to things because you wouldn’t have done them in high school. If you do, it’s likely that you’ll miss out on meeting great people who you otherwise wouldn’t have. Go to some random talks that are given, a few of the meetings of the clubs you signed up for at the Clubs Fair, and maybe even a Convo on a topic that you don’t know much about. In all likelihood, you won’t regret it.

And that’s it! This list is obviously just one of many laundry lists of freshman advice, both specific to Carleton and to college in general. But I hope that this one in particular rang true for someone, and that you can use it to help guide your first month here. Good luck!

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