Oakton Outlook

Advice to Rising College Freshmen

Kathryn Tatum, Editor-in-chief

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If I could give one piece of advice to incoming freshman in college, it would be to meet as many people and remember as many names as you possibly can. In the first few weeks – especially if you go to a school where you don’t initially know anybody – it’s a blur of new faces and it can be hard to keep track of people. Try your best, and keep an open mind; some of the people you might not love at first could turn into your best friends by the time you go home for Thanksgiving. Second, you should not be in the library, at any point, during your first week. I made this mistake and whenever I think about it I laugh. The first week, you basically just get syllabi and any “reading” you’re assigned is definitely way less important than meeting people and doing whatever you have to do to settle in. If someone asks you to do something – whether its grabbing dinner or going for a hike – put what you’re doing aside and just say yes. I met one of my best friends because I blew off an initial assignment and went swimming. Trust me, you will spend many, many, many nights in the library over the course of the semester, but just make sure they don’t fall on your orientation week. College is a million times better than high school in just about every way. You should be nervous and excited; both are totally normal. Good luck and congratulations to the class of 2017!”

— Jacque Groskaufmanis, Class of 2015

“Coming out of high school I decided to join the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, pursuing a scholarship and an opportunity to serve in the Marine Corps after college. Thus, my first day of college was spent outside, wearing camouflage, being screamed at, and feeling my recently shaved head begin to burn under the August sun. I bring this memory up because on that first day, amidst the yelling and running, I was asked a question that stuck with me for the rest of freshmen year: ‘why did you come here?’ This simple sentence was there for me through every high and low of my first year at Virginia Tech, powering me through the tougher experiences I had.

‘Why are you here’ was an abruptly honest question that rang in my head for months. I found my answer quickly, and I think it’s one that most college students share: to graduate. But as time passed it evolved into something more. I knew that college was the gateway to adult life, and that if I wanted to become a pilot I needed the diploma first. That mentality helped me equate my classes and other struggles to that dream job; if I wanted to fly than I needed to pass that test, or write that paper. If I wanted to set myself up for success, I had to start small. That was why I came to Tech. Holding on to that philosophy got me through not just classes, but helped me establish a healthier lifestyle both socially and physically.

My point is this: next year you are going to have a lot of amazing experiences, and probably a few bad ones. Find your reasons for coming to college, and hold on to them. Every time you do something amazing, add that to your reasons for being there, and every time you run into adversity, remember all the reasons you had for taking this next step in your life. I guarantee you if you can do that, nothing you deal with next year will be that difficult. Just ask yourself why you came there in the first place, and watch yourself succeed.”

–Aidan Kuester, Class of 2016

To be a senior in high school and be so close to graduation again. It is one of the best feelings I have ever had, second to getting into my dream school, and you should be excited and cherish every moment. You have finally made it, so many years of public education and now you’re on to a new chapter. Who cares where you go, or what you do, as long as you love doing it! The world outside of high school is a lot bigger than you can even imagine. Do what makes you the happiest, what drives you most. Take long naps, party hard, study harder, live a little more than those who don’t take advantage of their opportunities. Explore who you are and what gives you purpose, find a cause and back it with your heart.

College and the adult world is changing everyday. My freshman year was crazy different from my sophomore for more than one reason. You can expect to be excited but also nervous, to be overwhelmed but also find a lot of free time to explore new things. Learn to balance your social life and studies, but also learn to prioritize. Definitely study abroad if you have the means and try taking up a new hobby. Stay true to your roots but get out there and be active in trying different things you never experienced in this little bubble of NOVA.

My biggest advice to you is just to say yes. Nike and do it. Say yes to all the opportunities you have, so long as they’re good ones. So I guess it would be say yes to the good and say bye to the bad. Embrace what makes you a better person, leave behind every negative thing that has ever dragged you down. The gap between senior year and college or the work force or the military or whatever future lies ahead of you is made for new beginnings. Shed high school stereotypes, burdens you didn’t ask for and create yourself all over again, this time with so much wisdom and learning you have gained. Be proud of what you do!”

— Anee Nguyen, Class of 2015

““This might fly here, but once you get to college it’ll be different”* – every teacher ever

​To be honest, I don’t remember any particular things that they said wouldn’t fly, but they were definitely right about the college being different part. College is like a stew of juxtapositions, that when looking what’s been put in the pot you can’t imagine it will taste good, yet it’s somehow it can be one of the most distinctive and delightful things you’ve ever experienced. It is both an introduction to the real world (that mystical place that students go when they are no longer students) and at the same time nothing like it. The time flies by so fast and yet so many memories have been crammed in that the months feel like years. The most homogenous group of people in terms of age group is likely more diverse you will ever encounter again. You learn how to become an adult and yet every 4-5 months you go back to live with your parents. You have the most control over your life than perhaps you’ve ever had but there are so many things vying for your attention that it’s easy to feel powerless. It doesn’t take a whole lot for the varied, and often times competing, ingredients in the so-called college soup to become nauseating, so here are some things I’ve learned along the way to make it the delicious dish we all hope it will be.
• If you’ll have to take chemistry or physics in college, just take the AP classes. However hard they may be in high school, they are almost certainly worse in college (I can’t tell you how much this saved my butt)
• Having a friend in a class makes everything easier/better
• Finding and setting aside one place on campus (preferably not your room) to do homework/study can be fun and might do wonders for your productivity
• Making friends with professors can be incredible easy and incredibly helpful. Just make it a habit of thinking of a question or two to ask them after class and before you’ll know it you have an amigo who might help you get a job for free-o
• Having some form of weekly exercise takes a lot of strain off your brain (I don’t go to school for sick rhymes but maybe I should)
• Find one extracurricular activity or club to really pour into (and to pour into you) is way better than doing all of the extracurriculars or none of them
• If you have a passion whatever it is, figure out a way to turn it into a project and just do it. If you’re high school it could help you get into college, and if you’re in college it could help you get a job
• Don’t stress too much about what other people are accomplishing. Comparison is paralyzing. Finding something you enjoy and is productive and pursuing it will get you further than comparison anyway.”

— Evan Heitman, Class of 2015

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Advice to Rising College Freshmen