Are you scared to walk into the dining hall without first sending a text to your dorm group chat asking, “Hey, where y’all at?!” Are you suffering from pre-class anxiety and under-caffeination? Have you just finished learning how to do your first load of laundry?

Well, you may be suffering from “First Semester Freshman Disorder.” This is not a serious condition and it will wear off as time goes on, but until then, the experts (upperclassmen) at Hillsdale College have some advice for you. They have not only experienced similar symptoms, but are, in fact, proof that this strenuous period can and will be overcome.

As a newcomer, I took comfort in asking some who have gone before me, “What do you wish you had known as a freshman?” I hope their insight provides the same sense of solace for you that it did for me.


These individuals may still be suffering from sleep deprivation, but they have at least a single year of college experience under their belts, and are the closest thing to a freshman-sympathizer than anyone else on campus.

Matthew Clark. Isabella Redjai | Collegian

“I wish I would not have overcommitted my freshman year. I took over 18 credits, on top of work hours.” – Matthew Clark, Class of ‘20

Kaitlynn Schenk. Isabella Redjai | Collegian

“I wish I had known from the start that it is possible and important to be involved. You can’t just do homework; you need to build relationships. A liberal arts education is about cultivating the whole person, and being involved is necessary for the college education. It is also necessary for becoming a strong leader, as well as life after college.” – Kaitlynn Schenk, Class of ‘20


These folks are currently in the strange state of “upperclassmen purgatory,” having spent their sophomore year knowing most of the particulars of college and are now awaiting senior year, when all will become too familiar. They have some of their own words of wisdom.

Ben Weeks. Isabella Redjai | Collegian

“I wish I had known to go to office hours more. Professors honestly want to talk to you outside the classroom. Don’t stress so much about that first bad grade. Branch out at lunch; don’t just sit with your roommates. Sit at a random table, and meet people you don’t know.” – Ben Weeks, Class of ‘19

Kelly Sullivan. Isabella Redjai | Collegian

“I wish I would have known that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, because I didn’t get the same grades that I did in high school. Once you realize that, you realize that this doesn’t mean you are not smart. Take it easy on yourself and give yourself a break once in a while, but also continue to push yourself. It’s important to create the balance.” – Kelly Sullivan, Class of ‘19


Yes, the top of the food chain. These students have survived Hillsdale for almost four years. They are living proof that hardship will not kill you. It will only make you stronger.

Jackson Bargenquast. Isabella Redjai | Collegian

“Take advantage of office hours! The connections you make with professors can be really helpful when it comes to internships. Also, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” – Jackson Bargenquast, Class of ‘18

Lara Forsythe. Isabella Redjai | Collegian

“I wish I would have known that seeking professors’ approval is not what you should aim for. I made an ‘idol’ of my professors. It was a big burden I carried throughout freshman, sophomore, and even junior year. It should not be your primary motive.” – Lara Forsythe, Class of ‘18