Welcome, Class of 2022! As the school year begins, the Editorial Board would like to extend some advice to all new students.
Cultivate mentors and seek out advice. Amherst is unique in how easy it is to build relationships with professors, through the small class sizes and open office hours. Take advantage of the opportunity to connect with experts in the field. Professors are invaluable resources for recommendations, research opportunities and personal guidance, so don’t put off meeting and getting to know your professors. Build these connections early so they can grow over the next four years. This isn’t limited to your teachers —make connections with everyone, from the custodians who make your dorms habitable to the Val workers who’ll give you an of Egg McCharlie. Rarely will you have the opportunity to have such a large community invested in your personal and intellectual growth.
Try to let go of some of the initial insecurities you have about the social or academic life here. Classes are meant to be hard but not impossible. Utilize resources for help if you’re struggling and know that many others are too. You, like every incoming class before you, are a group of overachievers — most of you were probably at the top of your class in high school. But the fact is, not everyone can be at the top here. Don’t let that scare you — embrace the freedom you now have, maybe for the first time in years, to let the stress and competitiveness of always “being the best” slip away. Find your interests, and pursue them with passion; success will emerge naturally out of that.
Allow yourself to feel lonely and sad. The start of college is a huge transition, and the dust never fully settles in your first year. Your friend dynamics, academic interests and extracurricular choices will change. Embrace the instability of this time and use it as an opportunity to try as many things as possible.
Show up. So many good things come from just being present — so go to classes, college events and friend hangouts. This place is for you to participate and hopefully change for the better. Learn the unwritten rules of Amherst and which ones you can break — just don’t eat chips in Frost A level. You can’t fake this college experience, so try to be active within the community.
Be excited about learning here. With the open curriculum, your classes should reflect your interests. Find ways to connect with the material because what you learn is worth learning, even if what you learn is you should never take a class with that professor again.
Don’t neglect your well-being. Sleep should be a priority. All-nighters are neither sexy nor impressive; they are the result of poor time management and unfortunate timing. Eat healthy and drink water. Make your dorm room a clean space you feel happy coming home to each night. Try to customize your experience so that Amherst meets your needs. Once you’ve cycled through the three-week rotation of meals at Val, try out the stir fry section. Go to a Zumba class at the gym. Go on a hiking trail one weekend with friends. This campus may be small, but you can find ways to make it your own.
Finally, enjoy your first year of college. All the hard work done in the past has paid off and will continue to pay off. As first years, you are the golden children of this large institution. You have fresh eyes to analyze and observe. Embrace everything.