From a Freshman's Perspective: Life as a Yellowjacket

As a student at the University of Rochester that is almost done with her first year of college, I can say that I have learned a lot about being a college student from the very moment I entered, and I will only keep learning more as my senior year approaches. From Fall 2016 to now, I have had my ups and downs while being here but nevertheless, going through stresses in college will all be worth it once you can be free of doing financial aid forms for the U of R, you can be free of countless nights staying up trying to study for a midterm or finish an essay and so on.

Since I will be approaching my second year sooner than I know it (I still vividly remember freshman move-in day… and now freshman year is almost over. Yikes.), I would be more than happy to inform the incoming Class of 2021, and future freshman classes, on what it is like being a Yellowjacket! So, if a reader knows someone who would like to attend here one day, this would be a good article for them to read.

From my overall experiences at the University of Rochester, these are the lessons that I have taken to be the most vital and most applicable to me so that I can be successful throughout college:

  1. College is completely different from high school, no matter how rigorous your high school classes were.

In high school, I had taken advanced courses that were considered to be college level, and I can honestly say that even though I had to work hard to earn good grades in high school, once you get into college, you’ll have to work 10 times as harder. Maybe 20 times. It will feel almost impossible to get an A in a class, and you will probably have to use a lot of brainpower just to score a B in a class. College will require you to work extremely hard and it will push you to work the hardest you have ever worked before in your whole life. It is not sufficient, nor a good idea, to study last minute or do assignments last minute. It is always good to follow deadlines so that you don’t get stuck in an avalanche of stress, anxiety and temporary depression.

2) Time. Management. Is. Everything.

With all the things you have going on in college, it would be plausible to have an agenda and fill in due dates or make reminders to yourself to study, read a certain amount of pages a night, write a couple paragraphs for an essay, make an outline to an important paper and so on. It is easy to forget all of that stuff because you try to balance school work, join organizations, hang with friends all while trying to cling on to some sanity that remains. Time management probably wasn’t that necessary in high school, but it definitely is in college. For me, I think that every minute that is wasted could go into something important, such as studying a minor topic for a class or write down some ideas for an essay outline or something. Not every person would look at it in the same way I do, but every minute counts, so use your time wisely and effectively.

3) You will experiences failures in college and it’s okay.

Nobody likes to fail, but it is a part of life. It’s essentially how we learn to improve ourselves. In the first semester of college as a freshman, you’ll be pretty oblivious as to how college operates: the grading system, the course load, etc. Nobody comes into college FULLY prepared - you have to learn how to be accustomed to college. For instance, nobody comes into the world knowing how to walk. You have to try and stand up, walk a bit and stumble over a few times just to get the hang of it. Before you know it, you’re walking with ease and even running around in full speed. College is sort of the same concept. Getting yourself acclimated to what comes ahead allows you to be prepared to face it and deal with it. In college, if you fail something, don’t be upset about it. Instead, get clarity on why you got a bad grade on an essay or test; talk to professors during office hours, study harder for the next exam, be more meticulous when writing the next essay (and ask the professor for feedback if able to) and such. It will no longer be a failure, but a learning experience and it will only push you to do better.

4) You’ll find yourself liking subjects you never thought you would ever like

As a freshman, you do not have to be entirely sure on a major because you don’t declare up until the end of your sophomore year; basically you have all the freedom you want to choose classes that you think are enticing and interesting (If you are a freshman and you are confident about what you want to major in, then that is great also!). In the fall semester of freshman year, I was somewhat in an exploring stage, so I took a couple classes that I thought would be interesting. One of the classes was in the History department. In high school, I absolutely HATED History with a passion because it didn’t interest me as much. But after taking “History of Race in America” last semester, I had learned a lot of information that I never knew in high school (which is another reason why high school and college are completely different: college classes have wayyyy more depth and analysis). Since registration for Fall 2017 classes are coming up, I was browsing through to see what classes were available. As of now, I am no longer in my exploring phase for that I found two majors that I am sure I want to pursue: Psychology and English. But a part of me still wants to take a “random” class just because of it sounding interesting. I found myself deliberately looking up History classes for next semester and I stopped myself and said “Wait a second… I actually like history now??”. And I’ve concluded that I believe I do now, despite me hating it not even a year ago. With college classes, you’ll learn a lot about a topic that you’ve studied before in high school but never knew about; it’s like finding a missing puzzle piece. The same goes for classes you thought you would never take; that one class that you take in your “exploring stage” could lead to you declaring the major that goes with it in the spring semester of your sophomore year. So, to sum all of that up, it is okay to explore with classes, as long as they appeal to you in some way.

5) You will definitely be stressed out… but it is okay to step back from it all and chill out

Essays, midterms, finals, presentations, lab practicals, internships, study abroad, on campus jobs, summer jobs, making friends, trying to get good grades, trying to join organizations, financial aid, deadlines, gaining weight, lack of sleep, loss of sanity, trying to search for the little motivation that exists in your body, finding out you have no money in your wallet and you’re starving… College in a nutshell. Actually, in my opinion, trying to balance out school, work and a social life in college is the equivalent of juggling various objects while trying to walk to a finish line (your college graduation). Things will unexpectedly drop in, thus adding more to the things you have to juggle. You’ll probably be on the verge of wanting to rip your hair out, cry, and so on. But, none of that is necessary: if you’re stressed, it is okay to calm down. Luckily, at the U of R, there are meditation rooms on campus where you can visit there and just meditate all of your stress away. So essentially, the U of R will create your stress but also help you get rid of it (just to add more… it’s a cycle)


To summarize all that I have said, it is pretty stressful being a student at the U of R. Some days, you’ll be discouraged on what you’re capable of, and you’ll start to feel inadequate in some way. You may even question if you truly belong here and do you truly have what it takes to survive in college.But, it is important to remember that you’ve been accepted here for a reason and you are Yellowjacket material. You deserve to be here and you will be successful because at the U of R, you have all the academic resources needed to help you in this four year, life changing journey. Plus you’ll have older students guide you along the way because they have been there and done that.

So to all of the Class of 2021, for that they will be here within the next few months, I wish you the best and I hope you’ll be successful here!