Acclimating to college from high school can be an intimidating feat, especially at a school as large as Texas A&M.
At the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year, the Class of 2024’s first impressions of A&M was drastically different than that of every preceding class due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual classes and mask mandates pervaded their freshman experience, and social distancing guidelines prohibited many from fully experiencing the momentous first collegiate semester.
However, as the world shifts toward normalcy, the return to in-person classes and activities on A&M’s campus next fall will allow the Class of 2025 to have a lot to look forward to - they will be immersed in the traditional college first-year experience, one filled with transitions into adulthood, uncertainty and freedom.
Psychology junior Isabela McGough said navigating a new campus, a new town and a new living space can be nerve-wracking, but knowing she was not alone helped her transition to A&M.
“Getting a traditional college campus experience is exciting and should motivate you to stay determined during the rough patches,” McGough said. “There are so many resources, clubs and events to attend at A&M. I enjoy being around professors that are highly qualified to teach, and I think it is so great to be able to go to a top-tier university with such great professors because [you can] master your own major from people who have dedicated their lives to it.”
Ensuring professors know who students are, especially in large classes, is crucial and helps in the long run, McGough said. Since it is many students’ first time moving away from home, McGough said she advises the incoming freshman class to make an effort to find friends through extracurricular activities.
“Organizations ensure students don’t feel isolated and let them know they’re a part of something bigger,” McGough said. “I also recommend learning how to make a good schedule and learn to plan ahead. It makes all your coursework go a lot more smoothly.”
Although academics are certainly important, McGough said health is often overlooked in college. However, she said maintaining one’s health is imperative to succeeding in all areas of life in college.
“Always make sure to make time to eat several times a day and to drink water. School is important, but your health always comes first,” McGough said. “I also recommend learning how to make a realistic grocery list if you aren’t on a meal plan. Plan foods that are easy to make but are good for you to help fuel you, and always bring water on campus.”
English senior Madi Telschow said as a freshman, it is important at some point to reflect on newly found friendships and organizations and decide which ones to deeply invest in.
“You get encouraged a lot at the beginning of your freshman year to go for every opportunity and make as many friends as you can,” Telschow said. “I think I made the mistake my first semester trying so hard to be friends with everyone I came into contact with. That allowed me to have a lot of friends but didn't allow me the time to really develop those closer friendships that I did later on in my college career.”
To engage in the college experience to the fullest, Telschow said students should surround themselves with people who will better them.
“If you go into college and come out the same person that you were at the beginning, you've done something wrong,” Telschow said. “I came into college living a very sheltered life. I think I was very judgmental, in a lot of ways that I did not fully realize or acknowledge. I came in trying to fit a mold and aspired to look like a certain type of person. College allowed me to find the freedom to find myself.”
Telschow said she advises students to make it a goal to jump on opportunities that come their way, rather than sticking by what they’re expecting to happen.
“I came into college with a very specific plan for my life. For the first year and a half, everything went perfect — and then it didn't,” Telschow said. “It is important that freshmen realize that they may not end up doing what they thought they were going to do when they came to college, they may not end up being involved in the organizations they imagined themselves and they may not end up being friends with the people they imagined to be friends with and that's OK.”