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A Senior’s Advice to New Bates Students

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bates chapter.

This year, I’m a senior at Bates, something that astounds me near-constantly. When people tell you that your college years fly by, in my case, they really weren’t kidding. It feels as though my adventure is just beginning, and yet so much has changed since I started at Bates. I’ve changed so much since starting at Bates, in ways that I recognize, and probably also in ways that I don’t. I’ve met so many wonderful people and had to say goodbye to quite a number of them, either because they graduated or because of other circumstances, and there are still new people to meet (550 of them, to be precise. Hello, class of 2022, and welcome! And welcome to all of the non-first year transfers who aren’t part of that 550!).

And yet, with all of the changes, some things have remained the same. For instance, walking into commons at noon on Pad Thai day and trying to find a seat? Nerve-wracking and overwhelming as ever. Finding an open treadmill or encountering no one at the climbing wall in Merrill? Delightfully surprising, just like always. Seeing the hammocks in full neon bloom on Alumni Walk? As hilarious and endearing—dare I say poetic?—as it was my first year.

So, dear first years and anyone in the mood for a bit of advice, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. Work hard, since you’re here for an education, but don’t forget to take the time to appreciate how far you’ve already come. Some of you are the first in your families to attend college, some of you have traveled the world to get here, some of you weren’t even sure you wanted to come. Maybe all of those are true for you, maybe some of them are true, maybe even none. Either way, take a moment to acknowledge the fact that you’re here. You made it. Be proud of that.

Don’t be afraid to try new things, whether it’s taking a class outside of your comfort zone or going to a meeting for a club you’re not sure is really up your alley. Is it cliché? Yes, but it’s also a great bit of advice. You might find you really love the course, or maybe you’ll decide to never go to that club’s meetings ever again, but either way, you can say that you tried it, and as many, many people will tell you, college is prime time for exploring your interests.

Know that it’s okay if the first people you meet on campus don’t become your best friends. This isn’t to say they won’t be your best friends; just that it’s not unusual for friend groups to change over time. We’re all just trying to figure out who we are and where we’re headed, so be kind to each other and allow change to occur as necessary.

If you’re feeling lost in terms of friends, lean into your interests. When you’re passionate about something, people gravitate towards that passion, and that can be how you find your closest friends. If you’re an outdoorsy person, get involved with the Outing Club. If you’re a writer, send an email to your friendly neighborhood Campus Correspondents for Her Campus at Bates (yes, self-promotion). If you’re a spiritual person, reach out to the Multifaith Chaplains (side note- the Multifaith Chaplains rock) and find out which of their many programs appeal to you. Your passions and your interests make you who you are, and if you let other people see what you’re into, you’re much more likely to find people with similar interests and beliefs.

A final morsel of advice: while it’s perfectly normal to feel lost or lonely or homesick, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. First years, your Junior Advisors are there to help you navigate this new environment and the weirdness of experiencing college. Counseling and Psychological Services at the Health Center is an awesome resource for all students, regardless of class year, as are the Multifaith Chaplains and the Office of Intercultural Education staff. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, and it shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of, in any situation. These resources exist at Bates to help students throughout their college experiences, and they are great sources of help and comfort for many students.

Best of luck, new Batesies, and enjoy your time in college!

Rachel Minkovitz is a senior at Bates College double majoring in Psychology and French and Francophone Studies. She spends a lot of time listening to music, hanging out with friends, reading and writing, advocating for social justice, and looking for furry animals.