A Letter to First-Year Emily
Written by: Emily Passfield, 4th Year Psychology
Photo by: M. Bettencourt, Student Experience
Dear First-Year Emily,
You have grown so much more than you could have imagined over the past 3 years, and it feels amazing to be able to share this progress with you today. I’m sure you’re scared to move out and to a new city alone, but these feelings are completely normal, and you will make amazing friends the first week. This transition is big, but you won’t have to do it alone and will be fully supported the entire time.
My first word of advice would be to get a planner and schedule everything down to the hour. You may feel as if you can’t keep up with school while still being able to have an active social life, but with a proper plan, you will have more than enough time to be able to do both! Grades are a priority and it’s very important to remember that, but at the same time, it isn’t healthy to lock yourself in your room 24/7 with no breaks. Finding that balance is key and starting off good organizational habits now will help in the future. Obviously, you’re at Western for an education, but you also didn’t move out to sit at home all day stressed, having this planner and schedule set up immediately after moving in or even during the summer will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and having deadlines sneak up on you.
My second piece of advice would be to ask for help. I know everyone says it’s okay to ask for help, but I also know teachers in high school said universities are not understanding about deadlines or accommodations. This is NOT true, and I need you to know the professors always love to help. If you ask your professors for help instead of studying while still being confused, you probably won’t need to retake math... Make use of the resources around you, because everyone is here to help and wants to see both themselves and their peers succeed.
When you feel lonely or sad, don’t turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, instead of going to a party to cope, have a self-care night and focus on yourself. You are the only person that knows you fully, so you are the only person who can figure out what you need to feel better. If you can’t or are struggling, reach out and talk to someone before it becomes unbearable. Your friends don’t see you asking for help as a burden, instead, it actually makes the friendship stronger because you’re able to open up about your feelings and grow together instead of growing apart.
Be more involved in campus clubs and activities; it’s a great way to meet people with mutual interests and will help to keep you focused and on track. Even things like trivia club can help you to meet your goals because it provides structure while also introducing you to new friends. If you join a club, be an active and engaged member, not just someone who shows up. Effort is everything, opportunities won’t always find you, and most of the time you have to be proactive. If no clubs interest you, try out some research opportunities—it’s important to make good connections while you’re in your undergrad because it can’t do anything but help you with jobs in the future. You never know who the person maybe that gets you your dream job, so making as many valuable connections as early as possible is key to future success. Be more involved in campus clubs and activities; it’s a great way to meet people with mutual interests and will help to keep you focused and on track. Even things like trivia club can help you to meet your goals because it provides structure while also introducing you to new friends. If you join a club, be an active and engaged member, not just someone who shows up.
University can be intimidating but after a couple of months you will be used to the fast pace and figure out the learning style that works best for you. You will be able to rely on the organizational plans you put in place, and it will only ever end in success. See failures as learning experiences that can be used to improve as opposed to setbacks. You will only achieve success if you put in the effort, the good things in life won’t find you, instead, you have to find them. Making these connections and finding opportunities right away will help you kickstart your career and find the resources that will help you to best achieve your goals! Enjoy these years, they are some of the most entertaining and educational that you will ever experience, so make the most of it!
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