It’s move-in day. You’ve just made your bed, hung up decorations and hugged your parents goodbye.
Just last year, it was the “last first day” of high school. All of a sudden, it’s the very first day of what may seem like the rest of your life.
There’s no doubt that the first few weeks, or even months, of freshman year can be overwhelming. The college transition is by no means an easy process. You will make mistakes, learn from experiences of all kinds and grow into the person you were always meant to be.
It’s plain and simple: The person you were on the first day won’t be the person you’ll be on the last.
To those incoming students having any doubts, there are many ‘Canes that were once in your shoes.
For recent alumnus Brooklyn Stafford, who entered UM as a sophomore transfer student, she emphasizes that change during your college career can actually be a very valuable thing.
“In the beginning it might feel like you’re behind, confused, not knowing exactly what direction to take. That’s where you trust the process. Be open to change and have many experiences that will shape not only your career path, but you as an individual,” Stafford said.
“It won’t always be easy, but focus on surrounding yourself with people who can guide and support you. Some days will be good, some bad but focus on making an overall trend of progress. Your attitude and drive are one of your biggest assets – use them.”
During CaneFest and beyond, you will also be introduced to the hundreds of clubs and organizations offered here at UM.
Izzy Sowells, a senior majoring in political science and biology, stresses the importance of finding time outside of academic life to pursue social activities.
“When someone asks you to hang out, take them up on it,” said Sowells. “Everyone is feeling lonely in their first year. Some just hide it better than others. This is totally okay and perfectly normal. Therefore my advice would be, get super involved on campus and be social!”
Joining different clubs and organizations on campus is just one of many ways to get involved during your undergraduate experience. Throughout your college career, you will find that plenty of horizons can even open up for you in the greater Miami community.
But while it may be tempting to join as many clubs as possible, know that balance is key in maintaining a healthy, successful college lifestyle.
Sarah Van Roekel, a student majoring in marine biology and ecology, emphasizes to incoming students that a crucial part of freshman year is creating a balance between academics, social activities and outside commitments.
“Freshman year is the most critical habit-forming year of college, if not life, so establishing balance is huge,” said Van Roekel. “But it’s also probably the time you’ll have the least amount of commitments, making it the ideal time to try as many things as possible before you pick up a ton of obligations. Try everything.”
Amidst all of the information that is thrown at students over the course of the semester, it may feel difficult to stay organized at times while balancing a full course load, participating in extracurricular activities and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Lindsey Faucher, a senior triple majoring in international studies, psychology and French, is an example of someone who has had a lot on her plate throughout the years. Her secret to tackling this busy schedule? Making a four-year plan during her first semester.
“In an Excel sheet, I mapped out the classes I knew I wanted to take as well as the student organizations I wanted to join,” said Faucher. “Creating this plan allowed my goals to seem less overwhelming and more attainable. But it’s important to remember that this plan is not set in stone and will likely change as you progress through college!”
As you begin to find your niche on campus, you will encounter people from all different walks of life. With this in mind, it’s important to know that it is completely fine if you aren’t best friends with your current roommate or the first person you meet on campus.
If you find yourself hesitant to reach out to random people on your floor, know that there are endless opportunities both on and off campus to meet new faces.
For instance, Gianna Sesto, a senior double majoring in chemistry and Spanish, is known for her impressive attendance at UM giveaways. You can always find Sesto waiting at the front of the line chatting with her fellow ‘Canes and making new friends.
“One day, I ended up having to go to an event alone, and I ended up meeting one of my friends that I still have today,” said Sesto. “Going to these events on campus was so easy because I was able to meet many students frequently and build relationships.”
Whether you’re waiting in the middle of the UPS line or sitting in the gliders at a Hurricane Productions concert, there’s always an opportunity to meet someone new.
“Going to the events really helped me to love the atmosphere and community feeling at the school. These events most likely helped me to get super acclimated to the school very quickly because I was able to gain relationships while also focusing on my academics,” said Sesto.
Junior Kayla Goodman, an active member of the Frost Band of the Hour (FBOTH) and an intern at the United Wesley Foundation on campus, also emphasizes the importance of the UM “work hard play hard” attitude.
“My biggest piece of advice: enjoy it,” said Goodman. “Go to random events on campus, walk around and get to know the beautiful place we get to call school. Meet tons of new people and some of them you’ll eventually call friends. Work hard, then play hard. Make the most of these next few years by doing things that are good for you and that you enjoy.”
As full-time students working to manage our academic lives, social lives and careers, understand that you are never alone at the U.
If you ever feel lost, abandoned or just plain confused, know that you have a community that is ready to support you through these next four years.
Welcome, Class of 2027! Enjoy the ride.