My First Semester at College. My Story.

By the time I arrived at NYU, I had been dreaming of going there for years. Clinging to my future life in New York City was one of the only things that got me through high school. I grew up in a small suburban town. It was so small that I’d had exactly the same classmates from kindergarten through twelfth grade. So, I never really found my niche socially. And despite doing well at school, I struggled to find classes that gripped my interest.

This last point is precisely why I was so excited about NYU. I would be attending NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where all students get to create their own major from scratch. An individualized experience was what I’d been longing for. So, here’s the story about my first semester at college.

My first semester at college.

Make the Most of Orientation

Looking back, the first two weeks of my first semester of college were some of the most important weeks of my life so far. I quickly became friends with my suitemate, Olivia. We enjoyed spending all of our time together, but we were also worried. When we looked around, everyone seemed to have already formed full friend groups. Our group was just me and her. Within a week, that changed. Olivia and I each attended a handful of orientation events for our specific programs and there made several more friends.

By the end of September, our group was making weekly treks from one dorm building to another, meeting for lunch, running through the park at night afraid of rats. To this day, that group of people remains my core friend group. Sure, we’ve all made some other friends along the way, too. But now, years later, we still eat dinner together weekly. 

Finding an Academic Pathway

On the academic front, I had gone to college unsure of my interests. I thought I wanted to study something like advertising, which seemed like a good middle ground between creativity and business. Music was also an interest of mine. However, I was not quite sure where that passion could lead me in terms of my education. Spoiler alert: I ended up studying neither of these things.

In my first semester, I took a class called “Abundance: Thinking, Writing, and Creating In The Age of Plenty”. This class focused on postmodern literature—a field I had never learned about—and which was taught by a professor who I very much admired. This professor ended up being a go-to of mine in the years to come. We even did an independent study together as my interest became purely writing. At the end of my first semester of college, I still was unsure about the focus of my studies. But through the “Abundance” class, the path was certainly clearer.

While registering for classes the summer before my first semester of college, I was devastated to see that the songwriting class already had a full waitlist. As someone who compulsively thought about her perfect college schedule, this was my nightmare. Instead, I took a guitar class with the same professor who was teaching songwriting.

This is where I got lucky.

Upon telling the teacher I was sad to miss his songwriting class, he immediately offered to sign a waiver to let me into it. I was ecstatic. That is until I attended the first class and realized that everyone else was a senior or junior. Not only that, everyone was talented as heck. I sat quietly, only opening my mouth when it was my turn to present a song to the class. I had a gigantic crush on an older boy (even though we’d never spoken to each other) and felt horribly embarrassed to say anything aloud at all.

In hindsight, I wish was more active in class. Not least of all because I did end up talking to that older boy eventually, on the last day of class. Now we’ve been dating for four years. 

My last bit of advice to you

Your first semester of college is, first and foremost, about the classes you take, about finding your interests academically and running after them, even if they may be initially unclear.

But coming in at a very close second: the importance of the people you meet. Whether professors, friends, or partners, the people I met in my first semester are still some of the most integral people in my life. Even as time and space has pushed us further apart, they remain a forever network of support, and I feel so lucky that my life intersected with all of theirs at just the right moment in time.

About the Author

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A. is an experienced English tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers Math, English, SAT, Coding, Spanish tutoring, and more.