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A letter to the freshman, from a ’23 alumna

Submitted by Trinidee Mercado

Dear Freshmen, 

Welcome to Rollins. After years of hard work, months of applications, and a summer spent wondering what your college life would look like; the time has finally arrived. 

Looking back as a graduate, I would like to offer you some advice. Please feel free to take it or pretend you never saw this article. 

To start, I just want to assure you that you are not alone. You are not the only person that is nervous, scared, confused, or lonely. Every student and faculty member at Rollins had a first day of college. While your experience is unique to you, the shared memory of the first few days means people are often very willing to help you. Whether you are lost, have a question, or just need to talk to someone for a few minutes because you are nervous, reach out and ask someone. You can make some pretty great friends by just sharing mutual confusion. 

Second, find what makes you happy. It may seem self-explanatory to just ‘do what makes you happy’, but it is easy to get lost doing things that you think are meant to make you happy. Everyone has a picture in their head of what the quintessential college experience “should” look like. Picture that… then picture yourself throwing that ideal out. 

You do not have to live up to anyone’s expectations of the perfect college experience, not even your own. The best memories often come from the unplanned adventures: the late night hang outs, spontaneous beach trips, and hours spent wandering Winter Park with no destination in mind. 

Third, keep up with your work. I know, I know: you fully intend to do that. However, your fun new college life can get in the way of intended study habits. We all know college is exciting but you can have way more fun throughout the entire semester if you aren’t spending half of it trying to dig yourself out of missing and failed assignment purgatory. 

Take advantage of the resources available to you. Go to the tutoring and writing center even if you don’t think you need to. Explore the library before you need to hunt down a last minute resource for a research paper. Visit your professors during office hours—likely the least used, but most helpful, resource. If you take nothing else from this article, please go to office hours; they are truly invaluable. 

Fourth, get involved in your campus community. College is more fun when you care about your community. Whether you join a club, pledge a fraternity or sorority, run for student council, or serve as a peer leader in any number of campus organizations, work to find the things that you are passionate about. Find the people and things that give you a sense of community, belonging, and inspiration. Maybe you’ll even find your community with The Sandspur—like I did during my first week at Rollins. 

Finally, I leave you with this. Over the next few weeks you will be inundated with advice from your loved ones, peers, and strangers (like me) with your best interest at heart. At the end of the day, however, you know you best. College is a time for discovery; new environment, new experiences, new friends, new everything. There are a lot of unknowns and it is easy to feel uncertain at times. That is okay. Embrace the uncertainty. What you need to know is that you are the expert on what you need, what is best for you. Feel free to take any advice you like and to stretch outside of your comfort zone. But also trust your gut instincts. Despite all the changes, you are still you. You made it through years of hard work, months of applications, and a summer spent wondering what your college life would look like; the time has finally arrived. Enjoy it! 

This article was originally published in our Welcome Back print edition on Aug. 18.  

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