My first year at SUNY Albany was typical in some ways and a little bit different in others. The major influences on my freshman year experience were: the Honors College, living/dorming conditions, classes, clubs, and new and old friends.
As I entered SUNY Albany, I was admitted into the Honors College which included Honors Housing and Honors Classes. The Honors College created its own community and made it so easy to befriend neighbors because you would simultaneously be taking courses with many of them. To put it bluntly, they really tried to ‘hold your hand’ and make the transition as smooth as possible, and I noticed this was attention that my non-Honors friends did not receive.
One of the biggest things to immediately get used to was the living conditions. I was fortunate enough to live with a very friendly and laid back roommate. Even with this huge bonus, there are also the little things you have to get accustomed to: being respectful of each other’s sleep patterns, sharing a bathroom, eating at specific hours etc. Eventually I got to know my suitemates a little bit better and the students living in neighboring suites became familiar faces. If you put in the effort to adjust, your dorm can really become a second home.
As far as classes go, I’m glad that I was assigned only 4 courses that first semester, my lightest load to date. At the time, I was not a disciplined student and my work ethic had some holes in it. By the second semester though, I had kind of gotten the hang of things and was better prepared for more time consuming classes.
I must confess that my participation in clubs was somewhat lax. At first, a friend and I tried to attend a few club meetings, but other things got in the way and we were never consistent with attendance. I fortunately stumbled upon a running club, that I had some great experiences with. The club was very relaxed and no one was counting attendance so it really fell on you to show up if you wanted. I can honestly say some clubs are more welcoming than others and so if you find one with friendly people that share a common interest, stick with it and you won’t regret it.
Looking back on that first year, I can see very clearly that what I put into college and college life is what I received back. And in my case, I was lucky enough to receive a little more because of the Honors College. When I arrived, I didn’t wholeheartedly ‘cast out my net’. I didn’t put myself ‘out there’ as much as I could have because part of me was more concerned with holding on to what I already had from high school. I don’t regret that decision, but it’s important to recognize that it was a choice and an important one at that. Ideally, you can find a good balance between relaxing your high school relationships and investing in college ones. I know that the main reason I enjoyed my freshman year was because of the new friendships I formed and the people I met. And so my highest recommendation, without a doubt, is to put yourself out there and find your niche. If you do, and you manage to keep up your grades, you’ll have a solid freshman year for sure.