Welcome to Elon, class of 2025. We are so excited to have you on campus. You did it. Many experiences, highs and lows alike, brought you here. As I begin my senior year, a piece of advice that I wish someone had given me during my first year of college was to let go of my expectations. Adjusting to college was hard and it definitely shattered, yet exceeded, a lot of my expectations.

Senior Catherine Stallsmith. Courtesy of Catherine Stallsmith.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you attend classes, make friends and start getting involved with organizations on campus. 

Give yourself grace. 

Remember, you probably haven’t been
in an environment where you’re making friends for the first time all over again since your first year of high school. That’s four years. It can feel awkward texting that person from class to grab lunch, but I promise you they’re just as eager to make friends as you are. Upperclassmen want to get to know you, too. In high school, it was normal to only be friends with people your age. But in college, the grade someone is in rarely matters. Don’t be afraid to befriend a senior. As a senior, I promise, we want to befriend you too. 

Try new things. 

Take advantage of what Elon has to offer. It’s important to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone every once in a while. I promise you’ll make friends in the process, but remember to set boundaries. Trying new things does not mean doing something that makes you extremely uncomfortable. Never compromise your values, because anyone who doesn’t value your comfort level is not someone to be around. 

Go to your professors’ office hours. 

They have to hold them, so you might as well let them put a face to the name. Small class sizes are a reason that I, and I’m sure you as well, chose Elon. Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know your professors on a more personal level. This will make it easier for you to interact in class and connect if you need support throughout the semester. 

Practice saying no. 

I definitely got FOMO, fear of missing out, as a freshman, but remember that everyone has more going on than they let on, and you are never expected to be everywhere at once. I was very over-involved during my first two years at Elon and my mental health suffered for it. As one saying goes, rather than going
a mile wide and an inch deep, it is better to go a mile deep and a inch wide. Pick a few things that you want to be involved in and
set a boundary when you have reached your limit. 

Focus on your mental health. 

Taking care of yourself matters. Trust me, I thought I had it all together in high school, and then I thought that would be enough to get me through college. It wasn’t. Time moves so fast here, you really have to make it a priority for yourself to spend time with friends. I have to put things like exercise, naps, and catching up with my friends on my calendar, or I won’t do it. If you take care of your mental health when you’re mentally healthy, this makes it easier to handle any setbacks that may arise. Do not be afraid to ask for help! We have resources available, like Counseling Services, which I have utilized in times of stress, anxiety and loneliness. 

Last but not least, be yourself. 

I know you’ve probably heard this one before, but it is so obvious when someone isn’t being themself. Take advantage of Elon’s awesome resources that can help you grow into adulthood. Learn how to be an ally for communities that you do not represent. Speak up for people who might not be in the room. This first year will be a whirlwind, but you made it here, and that’s the biggest, hardest step.