Upperclassmen Advice for Freshman: Start Your Fall Semester Off Right

Image courtesy of Olivia Snow 

By Caroline Pitman

Freshman year was difficult when it was a normal fall semester. With early morning LCs, learning about the dining hall, and dorm living, college life often feels completely foreign.

For the freshman this year, I can only understand the challenges that come with a major life transition during a global pandemic. It’s only made harder by the lack of upperclassmen on campus to guide you. That said, Washington, D.C is a wonderful city, and the Catholic University of America will soon feel like home.

First, take advantage of where you are and go into the city. I know people who rarely venture around  D.C, or leave campus at all. Start by getting a Capital Bike Share Student Membership and venture out on the Capitol Branch Trail. The trail ends near Union Station, and you can dock your bike and walk around Capitol Hill. My weekends usually consist of a bike ride to Ebeenzers (my favorite coffee shop) where you can do homework outside. 

On campus, make sure to join anything you are interested in. I attended my fair share of awkward first club meetings but I met some of my closest friends from those activities and I found clubs that I was passionate about. 

Remember college is more just classes. Make your experience at Catholic memorable by creating little traditions. My friends and I freshman year would get Chipotle on Sundays and eat in on the Basilica Lawn. This was a fun little tradition that got me through some challenging weeks. Whether it’s getting coffee on Mondays or going to a workout class every Friday, create things to look forward to. 

Take the time to explore campus! With the campus as empty as it is, this is a great time to get a little lost and look around. I have found my favorite study spots, from the Third Floor McMahon to the circular tables on the First Floor of Mullen, that make work bearable. During quarantine, this is a perfect time to figure out which rooms have the best views and claim your study spot for midterms.

Make sure to stay busy. Freshman year can be challenging but having a full schedule is essential to feeling productive. Freshman year is your first year on your own and there can be a  temptation to stay in your dorm room and relax, but the best way to meet new people is by getting involved on campus. Join a club, go to an event you’re interested in, and put yourself out there! I promise having a schedule and writing it down will help you stay engaged.  

One of the most important things to do Freshman year is to stay engaged in your classes. Attend office hours, ask questions and for help when you need it. Going to office hours may seem tedious, but professors are there to help you, and it’s a great way to make sure you stand out in class. Going to office hours makes it easier to ask for a letter of recommendation because your professors know you a little better. They often also share more opportunities with you. So, take your classes seriously, and establish a relationship with your professors! Make sure you don’t blend in and get lost in the crowd.

Finally, make sure to stay active! While away at school, it is important to take care of yourself mentally and physically. . Go for a run around campus, go for a bike ride to the monuments, or take an online workout class with your roommates. Making the time to work out a couple of days a week will not only make you feel great, but it also serves as a productive break from studying! make you feel great and also serves as a fun break from studying.

Soon Washington, D.C will feel like your city and Catholic will feel like your home, but before then, getting acclimated and in a routine will help you get through Freshman Year. Follow these tips for a great year!

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