Tips for freshmen from STAR leaders

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STAR leaders say joining a student organization is a great way to meet new people and make friends but caution against overextending yourself.

Student Admission Representatives aren’t on campus to hype you up this fall, but they still have some tidbits of advice as you enter your freshman year.

Aside from their jobs as tour guides, STAR leaders stay active in the GW community through extracurriculars and academics. They said while you may not gain the full campus experience just yet, you can still make the most out of your time from home by staying engaged and prioritizing yourself.

Take time for personal, academic growth

Jessica Baskerville, a junior STAR leader, said the time away from campus could give you an opportunity to work on personal development and to get a better idea of what academic tracks best suit you. She added that unlike diving into as many extracurriculars as possible, you should “ease into it.”

“There’s no need to rush,” Baskerville said. “Take your time, adjust because it is a very stressful time. You’re transitioning into college and there’s still a pandemic.”

Baskerville said online learning could be used as a way to decide which academic track is best for you, adding that there are fewer distractions from peers pursuing different courses. You could identify which subjects are most interesting to you and follow that academic track, she said.

“If you feel like a class is interesting online, that means the in-person class and experiences are probably significantly more interesting versus if a class is boring virtually, then maybe it’s just because it’s virtual, but also maybe you just aren’t as interested in it as you thought it would be,” she said.

Just roll with it

Todd Neblett, a junior STAR leader, said he hopes you embrace your first semester and take time for the things you enjoy living at home while starting coursework.

“Just roll with it,” he said. “Everything’s changing and your ability to adapt will help you down the road.”

Neblett added that you should make the most of being stuck home by hanging out with high school friends, enjoying home-cooked meals and taking advantage of the flexibility of online classes.

“As much as you want the situation to change, it won’t,” he said. “School isn’t going to magically start back up two weeks in, and it’s going to be hard. But if you make the most of this semester, it won’t seem like it’s a waste.”

Use social media to get connected with peers

Drew Amstutz, a junior STAR leader, said social media is going to be the bridge for the Class of 2024 to build friendships and community. He said your transition onto campus will depend on how you’re able to get involved and connected virtually during your first semester.

“They’re going to have to take the extra step of finding their own community and building their own connections all while still living, for the most part, in the home that they grew up in,” Amstutz said.

He said you should connect with peers you meet through online classes and student organizations by following each other on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You could also stay connected through the Class of 2024 Facebook page, Amstutz said.

“More than anything, this pandemic is going to highlight our desire for building a better community,” he said.

Get involved

Sarah Gregory, a junior STAR leader, said one of her favorite parts of interacting with prospective freshmen is getting them excited about GW’s academic and professional opportunities. Gregory said you shouldn’t take on too many responsibilities, but getting involved in an organization or two can help build community.

“Attend a lot of meetings,” she said. “It sort of shows you all your options and then you sort of naturally just find out where you fit.”

Gregory added that she explored multiple organizations before she found the few that were the right fit for her. She said she encourages incoming freshmen to follow orgs they’re interested in on social media and to check GW Engage to find student organization meetings.

“[Joining orgs] is definitely the best way for students to get involved and make friends, especially since student orgs are full of like minded people and people with similar interests,” she said.

Don’t be hard on yourself

Savannah DeLullo, a senior STAR leader, said freshmen shouldn’t be hard on themselves about making friends or succeeding in class – everyone is on the same boat.

“Nobody has all the answers so you shouldn’t be expected to have them either,” she said.

As a senior, DeLullo said the fall semester is just as foreign to her as it will be to freshman, adding that they have the added burden of acclimating to a new school. She said you shouldn’t worry too much about getting used to class or finding your niche and should take time to make mistakes.

“I would tell first-year students to remember that this is a completely new experience for everyone,” she said. “If you are not doing as well in your classes as you would like or you are not making as many friends as you imagined, try to remember that this is not always a problem with you.”

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