Article by Aanisah Husain
For returning students, it feels good to be back on campus and to have everything in-person again after a long year and a half. They get to see familiar faces while also meeting new ones, but for the freshman who are taking everything in for the first time, it can be overwhelming.
Five seniors provided some words of wisdom and insight to help with freshman year struggles and beyond.
Tip #1: Branch out, meet new people and network
The one piece of advice every senior said was to branch out and meet new people.
“It’s just a matter of being comfortable enough and reaching out to professors or people,” said Samir Kabir, a material sciences and engineering major. “Reach out to your professors and faculty and they’ll help guide you.”
Amin Shehata, a public health sciences and government and politics double major, said to “start off freshman year by being active and get to know your professors.”
At the same time, many of the seniors advised to find what you’re passionate about by reaching out to upperclassmen and students in different clubs and organizations.
Anish Kakarla, a bioengineering major, wishes he would have gotten more involved with organizations on campus because now he has that community, especially through his involvement with cultural organizations.
Iman Hassen, a journalism and information science double major, encourages students to “join clubs to meet people and get that community vibe for your college experience.”
Through these opportunities to meet new people, Kabir believes you can expand your network because you never know what the wealth of your network is without reaching out and discovering those new connections.
Tip #2: Be genuine with your college experience
Kayleigh Hasson, a criminology and criminal justice and economics double major, advises to not just do things to build your resume.
“Do things that you like, you enjoy, that you’re passionate about and through doing those things, work on improving yourself from a genuine place, not because you want it to look good to other people or jobs,” Hasson said.
Tip #3: Expand your horizons
Not only do you want to talk to faculty and other students in order to branch out, but you also want to be able to try something new.
“Do things outside of your major as well. Try classes outside of your major that you’re interested in,” Hassen said. “For the things you’re interested in like the classes you want to take… try to get a good feel at what you’re getting into before you actually have to take it.”
Hasson advises that you leave room in your schedule to take classes and do things spontaneously. “Leave yourself some extra credits, extra space and do spontaneously that maybe won’t show up in your freshman year when you’re making your four year plan.”
In fact, that is how Hassen found her way to being a double major.
Tip #4: Take advantage of the resources around you
Learn about where you go to school and find out how you can take advantage of what is around you. As a school located near the DC metro area, the University of Maryland is located in an ideal area.
Kabir advises to research the resources available to you and to not expect it to come to you. He emphasizes the importance of knowing what is around you and to take advantage of that.
Tip #5: Find the right academic and social life balance
This can be hard but it is tremendously important. Kabir finds that finding that proper balance helps with mental well-being. “You can catch up with school but if you miss out with friends, you’re missing [out] on life relationships,” Kabir said. “[You] can accomplish what you want academically while also excelling in your social life just for personal well-being.” Kabir said by packing on the classes and internships, it’s just a “recipe for burnout”.
Kakarla would tell freshman and his freshman year self to take it easy and avoid that end-of-year burnout. “Freshman year is a lot of time for growing and learning, especially coming from high school and now after a pandemic, I would say to take your time.”