As the school year comes to a close, every student takes some time to look back and think upon how they’ve grown. It’s a special kind of feeling in that not a single person is the same as they were at the start as they now are at the end. Yet none have changed more so than the freshman, in their first year of their new life at a University. Their first year has likely been one of self-discovery, and will determine their place in the years to come.
“In my first year at Monmouth I’ve become much more independent, open-minded, and accepting,” said Mary Fitzgerald, a freshman mathematics student and future Resident Assistant next semester. The general growth of students is determinate on how they experience their first year at college. Stepping up to responsibilities cam allow for some excellent maturation and skills that can make the next challenge easier. It takes a lot to mature at college, but taking every day a step at a time can allow change for the better.
Although the standard of growth is important, people grow and change in different ways. Where one person grows from their studies and friends, others find their place in a club or group.
The feeling of having a collection of students who are going through the same trials as you or upperclassmen being there to guide you can bring out growth and maturation that would not have been found on your own. Gina Geletei, a freshman English student, came into her own thanks to her involvement with the Student Activities Board; finding a group of like-minded friends allows for students to grow together, instead of apart.
“I have been learning so many valuable skills and have met so many amazing people who have truly made a difference in my life. SAB has taught me discipline, people skills and organization which ultimately translated over in my school work,” Geletei said. She knew she found her place in the SAB, and it spread to her finding confidence and skill in her academics.
The transition of attitudes upon getting settled into college is an entirely unique experience. Everyone enters college alone, whether they know people at the beginning or not. It’s scary, having this entirely new environment ahead of you when for years you were settled into your own hometown for academics. Professors, lecture halls, commutes and meal plans are likely new elements unknown to new students, and they have to learn on the fly. More than a few students felt the crippling pang of homesickness or anxiety during their first week at Monmouth.
The truly amazing thing about growth for new students is when they look back and see the person they have become as their first year comes to an end.
Phil Latawiec, a freshman fine arts student, stated, “I’ve grown to enjoy what I do. School doesn’t feel like such a daily grind anymore. I’m more reassured in my goals than ever before.” As every freshman looks at what made them grow, what needs to be praised are the qualities and strengths that weren’t there 8 months ago. It’s what makes freshman into not only better students, but better people.
“I feel like freshman students learn why they really want to be here, whether it’s for study or for financial success in the future,” said Amanda Connelly, an adjunct English professor. “I believe that the growth is much more personal than academic, because students have to become more independent in their thoughts and opinions and ideas about their future. I say choose classes that you’re passionate about, not what others say are good or easy. Do what you want to be doing.”
As much as we look back at the first year, Professor Connelly reminds us to look ahead as well. College is about growth, but more specifically growth for the future. It’s better to be able to look back and be satisfied with how we spent our years at college, doing what we loved.
We all grow in different ways, whether through our own hard work, finding a group, or by simply writing it all down, and that is what makes the college experience so unique. Our new home away from home teaches us in more ways than just in a classroom, but as a way of preparing us for all the challenges to come. To all students, and not just freshman, who are concerned about what comes for them next, I say this: Go on to the next adventure.