First of all, know that I am incredibly jealous that you are just starting your journey at Sweet Briar. I do not regret my choices, but instead wish I could go back and do it all over again. As a first-year, you have reached a place in your life that lends itself to great exploration. As a senior looking back, there are a few things I wish I had known coming in. Buckle up and get ready for some of the best years of your life!
You don’t have to have your life planned out.
In fact, you shouldn’t! The best part about your first year in a new place is that you have a chance to grow and change. Don’t declare your major right away — allow yourself to explore things that you might be passionate about. While you might love biology right now, you may decide that art history is a passion you’d like to pursue.
Challenges will come your way.
And you will overcome them! Sweet Briar is a place that encourages you to be tenacious, energetic and informed. Any obstacle that you face in the years to come will simply be a learning experience you’ll grow to cherish. Not only will you feel confident overcoming challenges, you’ll seek them out.
Have a growth mindset.
You’re going to meet people that are incredibly different from you. Unlike at larger institutions, you’re going to have to work with them for the next four years of your life. This is going to make you extremely marketable and well-rounded once you leave college. Being open to — and understanding of — those around you is going to take you far!
Friend groups change.
You can almost guarantee that they will. It’s a normal part of becoming an adult and living in a new place. The best way to prepare? Allow yourself a random roommate and mingle with as many people as you can! Shifts in relationships are bound to happen when you’re living in a new place, with people who are still figuring out who they are.
Remember to have fun!
When you first arrive, you’re going to be overwhelmed — and that’s okay. Just remember to take a deep breath and do something that you enjoy. Take a walk down to the boathouse, grab lunch off campus with a friend, strike up a conversation with someone new, or take a personal day that leads you down a fantastic new Netflix show (I always recommend “Friends”!).
Overall, your first year at Sweet Briar is going to be filled with many amazing opportunities. You’re going to learn so much about yourself, grow in ways that you didn’t know were possible, and create bonds that will last a lifetime. In the blink of an eye, you’ll be exactly where I am — a month away from graduating, hoping you, too, could start all over again and relive some of the best years of your life.
Senior Emily Hawk is a student ambassador in the admissions office. A liberal studies major with a minor in psychology, she plans to stay at Sweet Briar for another year to complete her M.A.T. In between classes and campus tours, the Goochland, Va., native serves as publicity officer in the Student Government Association.