What I Learned as a Freshman in College

As of the time I’m writing this, it has been 365 days since I graduated from high school. This is crazy for me in two opposing ways. First, I feel like the me typing this is so far from the me who walked across the stage at Centennial Hall last year. My high school self and my current self feel like two very different versions. At the same time, though, I cannot believe I’ve already completed my first year of college.

I guess the question my 18-year-old, fresh out of high school self would want to know is: was it what I expected? Well, yes and no. This previous version of myself was yearning for newness, for opportunity, and for growth. Throughout my first year at Babson College, I got more of those three things than I could have ever thought possible. I achieved more at my first year in Babson than that version of myself could have dreamed I would do in all four.

If my one-year-ago self saw where I am now, I know she would be proud. And that’s an amazing feeling.

Here are my key takeaways (the tl;dr from below) from my first year:

  1. The community you surround yourself with can have a profound impact on your experience. I was so lucky to be integrated into the perfect community for me early-on. I think what really helped me in finding this, though, was I wasn’t actively looking for it. I wasn’t trying to fit in anywhere, I just focused on myself and my mission and it fell into place pretty seamlessly.
  2. College is so much more than classes. My academically-focused self might want to think that classes are always #1. I learned from my first year that while they are high on the priority list (can’t lose that scholarship), experiences are incredibly valuable. You won’t remember the two points you gained on a test from staying home to study, but you’ll definitely remember than fun, spontaneous excursion with your friends. This, of course, is a fine line to walk, so it’s important to have your priorities straight. I just know, for me, my first year taught me the value of these experiences.
  3. Ask for help often. There are so many people and resources at your disposal in college. People are willing to help you more now than they ever will be in your life. Take advantage of that!! Being in a community like eTower has taught me that if I just ask the question, or let people know what I’m working on, or make the ask even if I’m not exactly sure what I’m asking, then people will answer. This is how I was walked through how to get my first credit card, this is how I secured my internship, and how I’ve been able to grow my connections and partnerships.
  4. College is a time to put yourself first. More than ever, I am clear on who I am and what my priorities are. I am doing college for myself and only myself. I am building my future. I am independent. And I’m learning more and more how to put myself first in a healthy way.

I am incredibly grateful for everyone and everything that has gotten me to where I am now. I’m excited to delve deeper into some of these insights in future blog posts.

For my own personal record-keeping, as well as for the inspiration of those reading who may be going into their first year, let’s dive into the transformative experiences I had as I completed my first year at Babson College:

First Semester…

Classes I took:

  1. First-Year Seminar: Career Development
  2. Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship
  3. Business Law
  4. Foundations of Critical Inquiry: Justice and Inequality in Society
  5. Quantitative Methods for Business Analytics 1

August/September:

  • I moved across the country. Yep, that happened. Packed up almost all of my belongings into two massive suitcases, two carry-on bags, and my backpack. My dad traveled with me and we stayed in an Airbnb in Wellesley the night before orientation began.
  • Orientation was a lot for an introvert like me, but I met a lot of amazing people, some of which have become my closest friends. I became acquainted with the campus and settled into my dorm in Forest Hall.
  • Created an accountability system with my friend Eric, and we did weekly planning sessions together!
  • I developed a close friendship with Jacob, and we went on tons of adventures in the area around Babson.

October:

  • Classes began to ramp up and midterms started. A lot of time was dedicated to studying, but I was also able to spend time with friends and go on more adventures.
  • I secured a work-study in Academic Services with the Dean who oversees my scholarship program. Yay for income!
  • I went on a trip to Somerville with the Weissman Scholar group to get dinner and watch a comedy show. It was one of the first times I really got out with a group and it was so much fun.
  • I attended my first college party on Halloween, which was a fun experience! I was surrounded with friends and had a great experience.
  • eTower, a living-learning community on campus for current business owners, accepted me as their sole incoming resident for the Spring. I applied as a way to get acquainted with the community and learn the process for the next semester, but I got in! This was a transformative moment in my college experience.
  • I attended the Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business Intercollegiate Business Convention and met some amazing, inspiring women.

November:

  • A long-term relationship came to an end. This caused a lot of emotional grief at the time, but I’m more grateful for it than ever. This began a personal journey on self-discovery that has resulted in improved mental and emotional health.
  • I went on the first-year senior retreat where I gained valuable insight from seniors about their experiences at Babson, as well as got away from campus for a bit to slow down from the craziness.
  • Pitched at the annual Rocket Pitch competition, presenting ALT to students, alumni, and faculty. You can see the video here.
  • I experienced my first snow in Boston! I remember walking around in the snow just taking it all in. It was beautiful.
  • The stretch toward Thanksgiving break felt long with midterms galore, but I got through it and was able to take a week-long break visiting my sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and newborn niece.
  • Once I came back, I threw a little birthday get-together (I turned 19!) with some friends which was a ton of fun! We had cake and soda and played a bunch of games. My childhood friend who goes to another school in Boston visited and we had a great time reconnecting!

December/Beginning of January:

  • Up until winter break, December was very academically-focused as I prepared for my first round of finals.
  • I spend a lot of time before break preparing for my Spring 2020 Planner Launch. eTower folks helped me out a lot in developing my shop and giving feedback on layouts and promotions.
  • Once winter break came, I flew home to Arizona to work on my planner launch, give back to my high school, and see family and old friends. After Christmas, I went up to my hometown, Flagstaff, and spent a couple weeks with my best friend Ethan. Many adventures ensued.
  • I got really sick. I had a viral infection and it was not pretty. This lingered into the start of the next semester.
  • I got my hair done professionally for the first time!
  • For the last leg of my vacation, I went back to Virginia to see my sister’s family.

Second Semester…

Classes I took:

  1. Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship
  2. Principals of Financial Accounting
  3. Quantitative Methods for Business Analytics II
  4. Foundations of Academic Writing

January:

  • As I got back to Babson, I was now moved into eTower. This began an incredible journey of late night talks, accountability groups, weekly speaker nights, lock-ins, adventures, bonding, and endless support.
  • Jacob and I started a daily evening yoga practice together, completing 30-day yoga challenges on YouTube one after another. This time was so valuable to me, and kept me grounded during the crazy semester.
  • My roommate, Dani, and I started a ritual of going to a different coffee shop in Boston every Friday. It was so much fun to bond and see more of the area!
  • I got my first credit card!

February:

  • Attended a bookbinding workshop. Random but fun!
  • Got really into waking up early and getting work done. It was a good time for routines.
  • I interviewed for a position as an operations intern at Calyx Containers and got it! This began an amazing journey in learning both financial and experiential. From here on, my Fridays were spent in the office in Allston.
  • I found myself feeling a little overwhelmed at times during February. Everything was a lot, and I found myself going a little rogue. But it was a positive veering off the railroad tracks in the end.
  • Lots of bonding with the girls in eTower! It was a great time for supportive friendships.
  • Hosted a guest for the Women’s Overnight! I was so happy to give back considering how many overnights I did at colleges my senior year.
  • Went to Chinatown for the first time with some friends — got amazing Boba, dinner, and then dessert! We went primarily to support the local businesses who were suffering due to COVID prejudice.
  • Weissman Scholar Summit. We had our yearly summit for Weissman Scholar alumni and current scholars. I got to meet the man funding my scholarship, Robert Weissman, and network with the alumni. This experience really taught me what it means to be a Weissman Scholar and what I can do with this opportunity.

March:

  • eTower had a retreat where we went to Rhode Island and did an escape room, had dinner at a pretzel place, then spent the night bonding at one of the resident’s family homes in Providence. It was an amazing experience.
  • I got sick with strep throat. It was very sad.
  • Right before Spring break, we got the notice that we needed to leave campus by the 21st. Everything turned to chaos on campus, and I battled with emotions around instability and loneliness.
  • I packed my things in storage and moved to Stafford, Virginia with my sister’s family and started the transition to online learning.

April:

  • Finished classes online which was challenging.
  • Worked remotely for Calyx and was offered a full-time position for the summer.
  • Began to bond more with my niece and nephew and learned how to be a part of the family.
  • Started dating! Felt socially isolated so I downloaded Tinder, talked to some people, and went on some socially-distanced dates supporting the struggling local businesses in the area.

May:

  • Finished classes somewhat strong.
  • Began my transition to full-time work at Calyx remotely.
  • Began to feel financially healthy for the first time in my life as my savings grew and I made purchases I’ve always wanted but could never afford.
  • Continued bonding with my niece and nephew! Making lots of memories with them.
  • Got into a relationship with someone I met, who has become a great source of joy and excitement for me amidst this whole pandemic.

What an amazing first year. It definitely didn’t end as expected, but I’m grateful for everything I experienced.

Here’s to the next three,

❤ Alicia

3 thoughts on “What I Learned as a Freshman in College”

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us! This past semester was crazy, but it’s so awesome to read about how you pushed through it. Keep up the amazing work! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m an incoming freshman and Babson and the whole Covid situation has been so stressful by adding uncertainty to my college plans but reading this made me feel so much better and I realized it will all be ok🙃. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    Like

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