Things I wish I knew as a freshman

As the leaves begin to fall and autumn air creeps into college crewnecks, I’m reminded of the first time I saw the leaves change on campus and realize just how much has changed in the past year. Guess what? It was all for the better.
It feels like only yesterday that my parents were moving me into my freshman year residence hall and driving away in their 2011 Toyota minivan. I remember how alone I felt that first night. But looking back I wonder how I ever could have felt so alone when I had friends, new opportunities and life-changing experiences all waiting for me right around the corner. Reflecting back on my first year, I’ve compiled a list of the top things I wish I knew as a freshman and asked other Scripps College students to do the same.
For some Media Arts and Studies (MDIA) students, like junior Caroline Churan, the advice was simple: 
“Don’t skip [class]” and “do your homework.” 
For others, the biggest realizations came after a learning curve. Senior Ruthie Stulce explains the importance of getting involved early.
“I wish I knew how important being involved in organizations is. I learned that if you join things that you love, you will find other people who love those things, and it's a great way to make friends,” Stulce says.
With over 550 student organizations on campus (including dozens within Scripps), there’s no shortage of ways to get involved and meet people.
Making friends, fostering meaningful relationships and networking are vital to success in college. Learning Communities are a great way to do this, as they provide built-in time to connect with peers and student/faculty mentors within your academic college. Junior Logan Jeffries emphasizes these connections.
“Networking and who you know are extremely important,” he says.
While you should nurture these academic, professional, and personal relationships, fifth year Ph.D. candidate and assistant professor of instruction Viktoria Marinova notes that the relationship you have with yourself is most important. 
“Don't feel guilty when you need to take a break,” she says. “Self-care is not selfish. Don't completely break down before you start taking care of yourself and your overall well-being.”
Putting yourself first is vital in not only self-care, but in career aspirations. On the topic of meaningful advice, senior Allison Irey emphasizes the importance of dreaming big.
“Never let anyone tell you that your career goals and aspirations are unrealistic,” Irey says. “Anything is absolutely possible if you work hard towards your goals. Don't be afraid to dream bigger every day— the entire media industry is made up of dreamers!”
Scripps and MDIA offer many resources and experiential learning opportunities to take advantage of. So don’t be intimidated by the “freshman” label— instead, embrace the notion of being new and immersing yourself in experiences you wouldn’t have had otherwise. 
Stulce has further advice on this front. 
“Reach out and ask questions,” Stulce says. “As an introvert, I have always been hesitant in class when I have a question...During my time at OU, I learned that professors are there to help. While it is scary to participate in class, no one is judging you and it’s likely other people have the same question.”
After all, by making the most of your connections, resources, and opportunities, you’ll come out of your time at OHIO with not only a degree, but experiences like none other and memories to reflect fondly on for years to come. 
For Jeffries, working as a videographer at OHIO football games has been particularly memorable.
“It was surreal to get to know the players personally and to be down on the field surrounded by the players I'm used to watching from far away in the stands,” he said.
Irey said her favorite experience at OHIO came as part of her involvement in a student organization, when she organized the Fridays Live twentieth anniversary alumni event in Spring 2023.
“It was an absolutely beautiful experience to get to create something with industry professionals who were as equally passionate about our silly little college sketch show!”
I could throw freshman year advice into the void for hours, but ultimately nothing I say will completely prepare you for the college experience, just as nothing could have prepared me for how at-home I feel in little old Athens, Ohio as I continue to explore new experiences and lean on the communities of people who have shaped me for the better.
This time when my parents drove away in that 2011 Toyota minivan, I was not lonely. For I am now surrounded by friends, faculty members and peers who support me. I smiled fondly when I waved my family goodbye, for I finally understood and appreciated just how much I had to look forward to.

September 27, 2023
Jenna Skidmore