Photo Courtesy of Cornell University

April 28, 2016

PUTTING IT INTO FOCUS | Dear Class of 2020

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Dear Class of 2020,

You’ve probably heard this from almost every person you know, but congratulations on choosing a great place to spend the next four years. While I may be a little biased, Cornell and the surrounding Ithaca area is one of the best places you could have chosen to come to. From the minute you step on campus, you step into one crazy roller coaster that will give you some of the best memories of your life.

Even though the end of the year fast approaches, decision day still feels like yesterday. The minute you commit, you will feel a rush of pride for being accepted into the school of your dreams and a touch of nervousness for the new environment. There will be simultaneous excitement to start a new chapter of your life and fear of leaving your childhood friends and community. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, and it’s totally understandable to feel that way. We’ve all felt that way some time or another before we came to campus.

You’ll arrive in August, greeted by upperclassman who are here to help you. You’ll be treated in the most sincere way possible and you’ll make some of the best friends of your life in no time (yes, even on your first day!). The huge welcome I received from the student body the minute I arrived on campus is something that made me feel so attached to Cornell. I don’t think I could have asked for a more inclusive, friendly and welcoming environment.

One of the things most freshmen are scared of is whether they’ll find the friend group of their dreams. Looking back, I realized that was only an unnecessary qualm. The truth is that everyone is here to make friends! Just be yourself and find people who will treat you the same way you would treat yourself. One of the biggest pieces of advice I would give to an incoming freshman is to never change who you are. A friendship is never worth drastically changing your identity.

The greatest way I got involved my first year was by joining a lot of clubs. Join every single club that you would find enjoyable. Find one that sticks out to you and live and breathe it. The lessons you learn and the friendships you make by joining these organizations are greater than words can describe. You’ll learn the most on campus by interacting with others who have similar and unique interests.  Deepen your current passions, but don’t forget to stay open-minded about new things as well .

Coming to Cornell can be scary, especially when you think of the academic load you may take on once you get here. Don’t put any pressure on yourself. We’ve all been there, we’ve all had times when we’ve struggled through classes. The only thing to focus on is to love the classes you take, and if you don’t, look into other majors. College is about exploring what you like, not about following a specific path. Don’t let one grade or one class define your college career. Find a topic you enjoy and stick to it-you will excel not only in your first year, but also in the years to come.

How could we not talk about Ithaca without talking about weather? Before I came, I became slightly anxious at even the slightest mention of it, wondering whether it would rain or snow ceaselessly. Believe it or not, the rain here is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. The biggest advice I have to deal with the weather? Carry your umbrella out even on a cloudy day, there’s bound to be some rain, even if the radar says there’s minimal chance.

Most importantly, remember to breathe and have fun! Cornell consists of such a large student body that there could be dozens of events going on at any one time. Go to as many galas, acapella concerts, musicals and dance shows as you can. Hang out with your friends when you’re finished with your work, and never shut yourself  in the library. Make sure to work hard, but make some time to have fun as well!

Get excited – you’ve committed to a great place! Cherish every single moment of your first year because you’ll only get to be a freshman once. Go to nasties late at night, witness the dragon on Dragon Day, take a ton of pictures and make lasting memories. You’re about to start the best four years of your life, undoubtedly one of the greatest rides you’ll ever take.