Every fall, millions of students leave home for college campuses around the world. This is undoubtedly an exciting time, filled with anticipation and wonder at the great possibilities that lie ahead. There are, of course, plenty of challenges students face during the first year away at school, as they are learning how to adjust to new routines and new environments.
Laurel Springs alumna Lauren Chavez ‘17 discusses her experiences at Montana State University over the past year and how she overcame challenges in order to make her college experience a positive one.
Thinking back, my first year at Montana State University (MSU) was quite the whirlwind. It was a huge adjustment going from being the “only” student in my online classes at Laurel Springs to the hustle and bustle of a campus packed with 15,000 people. There was also the shock that came from moving boxes of books, clothes, and all my other belongings into a tiny four-walled square that I was expected to call home.
To make matters worse, my roommate quickly took up as much space as she could, leaving me with very little room to work with. I initially thought it would be fine since I didn’t expect to use my room for more than relaxing and sleeping, but fast forward a month and I was pleading with the Resident Director to move me to a different room. Come spring semester I got a single room with my own bathroom and was much happier.
Academically, MSU is amazing. Because I’m not in a STEM major, all of my classes maxed out at around 15 to 20 students; these smaller classes provide a great learning environment for me.
Throughout my freshman year I probably changed my major, oh about, three or four times. For awhile I thought something was wrong with me because, before I arrived on campus, I felt so sure about what major I was going to declare and what classes I was going to take. Once I actually started classes, I became distracted by other classes that caught my attention.
By the end of my freshman year, I settled on an English-Writing major with minors in Entrepreneurship/Small Business Management and Music. Luckily the classes I took applied to what will (hopefully) be my final major. If you’re like me and have a wide range of diverse interests, I recommend taking a bunch of different classes pertaining to these interests to see which ones fan your flames the most. That is the only thing I wish I had known to do going into my freshman year of college.
Extracurricular opportunities are a great way to get exposed to interests you may not have known you had, and it’s also a great way to meet some pretty amazing people. I’m lucky enough to be involved with various music studios as part of my Music minor, and this is where I met one of my best friends, an avid rock climber. When he discovered my love for the outdoors, he helped me get involved with a local climbing group.
In conclusion, freshman year is when you start developing meaningful connections that are going to accompany you throughout your time in college. It’s important to not be fearful of trying something new, even if it scares you a little; college is all about getting out of your comfort zone.