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