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UMass Amherst
UMass Amherst
Original photo by Anumeha Rajvanshi

Advice I Wish I Could Have Told My Freshman Year Self

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

The first year of college can be exciting and new, but at times can be scary. I’ve experienced many emotions throughout my freshman year at UMass Amherst. Here are some of the things I have learned:

Your friend group will change, and that’s normal

When I first moved into my dorm building freshman year, I was nervous about meeting people. I made two friends when there were a group of girls hanging out in our floor’s lounge. The more I started to hang out with them, the closer I became to them. Looking back, I wish I had expanded my circle because I found myself becoming co-dependent on these two friends. One of the two friends I was close with freshman year is now my roommate. But I now realize for myself that having a variety of friends (including my roommate) created a healthy balance of people to hang out with for me.

Get out of your comfort zone

I felt scared to do things alone, especially being new to college life. It was not fun to walk to an event alone or walk up to people who you have never met before. As a sophomore, I have made some really close friends by just showing up to different campus events. I also realized that there are people who also wanted to make new friends, so having that commonality made it easier for both parties. I am Jewish and I decided to go to the Hillel House by myself back in September. I decided to attend a Rosh-Hashanah seder (which celebrates the Jewish New Year) and I was greeted by so many friendly people who welcomed me with open arms. I now have established a community where I feel a sense of belonging.

you won’t always get good grades, and that’s okay

In a previous article, I wrote about combating academic-self criticism and my perfectionist habits when it came to assignment and exam grades. What I realized is that I do not need to get an “A” on every assignment in order to understand what I am learning. I realize that when I make mistakes, I have the ability to learn from them. For example, I am taking a news writing and reporting course and my professor provides feedback on my writing assignments. Because of my mistakes, I felt that I actually learned more because I am always improving my work College is hard, and putting academic pressure on myself was only harming me rather than helping. I now appreciate constructive criticism because the knowledge that my professors share will help improve my own skills.

you may experience “fomo” (fear of missing out), and that is normal

The Fear Of Missing Out, also commonly known as “FOMO,” is something I experienced during freshman year that I now realize is normal. I had a small group of friends during my freshman year and because of that, there were times when my friends were busy and I didn’t always have weekend plans. I was more of a homebody and I loved having the weekends to re-energize before the next week, but from time to time, I did have moments where I would hear people in my hallway throwing dorm parties. There was a part of me that wished I was invited, but I realized that having a weekend to myself is normal, and not every person on campus is going out. We all need days to relax and prepare for the week ahead, and there is nothing wrong with that. As a sophomore, I learned that creating a balance between going out and relaxing is the best cocktail for my mental and physical health.

Do what makes you happy, and everything else will fall into place

What I learned looking back on my freshman year and now is that the right people will come along if you are truly yourself. I cannot pretend to be someone I am not! When you do find the right people, it is so rewarding to be friends with those who appreciate you for being your authentic self. And I also realized that friendships shouldn’t be so draining, and if you find that a friendship is causing more stress than normal, then they may not be the right friend for you. You are not going to click with everyone, and the ones who do want to be friends will make the effort!

Now that I will be entering my junior year in the upcoming fall semester, I have gained many perspectives on college life, so I am happy to share my experiences.

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Heather Sarney

U Mass Amherst '25

I am a Junior Communication and Journalism double major on the public relations track here at UMass Amherst. I love to play tennis, watch shows and movies, and journal too!