[Fresh] Interview with a Freshman at Villanova

Sue Ciccone (susan.ciccone@villanova.edu)
Thu, 12 Apr 2007 11:10:35 -0400

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Freshman Year Experience

An interview with John, a Freshman at Villanova University  


Fresh@News: What were your first impressions of Villanova during Orientation?

John: Coming from a small, private high school in California, I was initially overwhelmed by all of the unknown faces around me. I did not know anyone else in the state of Pennsylvania, let alone at Villanova. I didn’t understand why were doing cheers and playing games, but then I realized that it was actually a great way to get to know people. With the encouragement of my Orientation Counselor, I forced myself to step out of my comfort zone and truly try to meet people during the four days. I realized that Orientation provided a way to get to know the freshmen class before the rest of the Villanova community returned to school.  My Orientation group had about 25 students in it, and I still keep it touch with them even now.  My Orientation Counselor was always showing her school spirit and love for Villanova, which made me know that I had chosen the best school.

Fresh@News: Did you find it easy or hard to adjust to college life?

John: I actually found the transition to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. I didn’t realize it would take so much work on my part to adjust to life here. At the beginning, I was actually very frustrated. I missed sunny California and my routine back at home. But once I realized I actually had to make some conscious adjustments, things started to improve. For example, I lost a lot of weight during the first few months of school because I was used to eating dinner later in the evening at home and the dining halls had already closed by the time I arrived. I had to adjust my schedule a bit so I could make it in time to eat earlier with my friends. It was also really confusing at first to understand the meal plan system and my Wildcard. Luckily, my OC and some other upperclassmen I had met in classes helped me a lot with all of that.

Fresh@News: How did you meet other freshmen besides Orientation?

John: At first, the easiest way to meet people was in my residence hall. I live in an all-male hall, so we became pretty close pretty quickly. We all keep our doors open when we are home and have a lot of meals together. I get along well with the guys in my hall and we do a lot together, but it’s a small building so I had to find a way to meet other people too. I have actually found that the best way for me to meet people has been in the classroom. At first it was a little scary because people are so quiet in class. You have to open up and sometimes be the one to initiate the conversation, but once you do you realize it’s pretty easy because you already have at least one thing in common since you are sitting in the same class! I also went on a retreat for freshmen called the Freshmen Escape and got to know some people really well through that experience. I still keep in touch with quite a few of them. I also am involved in a number of intramural sports. I have met alot of people by signing up for various teams. This has been a great way to meet people from all different parts of campus. Making friends is a gradual process. I still feel like there are many more people for me to meet!

Fresh@News: Did you find the course load first semester overwhelming or manageable? 

John: At the very beginning I thought my classes were a breeze. I honestly didn’t understand what everyone was talking about and found the transition from high school classes to college to be easy. I actually thought academics were even easier here than in high school. After all, I wasn’t in class as much, we didn’t have that much homework and we didn’t even have to always hand it in. But then…the first test arrived and my outlook quickly changed. I realized that my old high school study habits were not cutting it here. I had to quickly learn how to be more disciplined and motivate myself. I also had to learn each of my individual professors’ styles and adapt accordingly. Since it took me awhile to figure all of this out, my first semester GPA was not as high as I would have liked.

Fresh@News: What did you do to make this adjustment?

John: I made a real effort to go and talk to each of my professors. This helped me get to know them, understand their styles, and helped me feel comfortable asking for help. I do believe the professors know you are still transitioning and slowly help you through that process.  You do have to put a lot of time and effort into your academics, though. They helped me realize that. I also spoke to some upperclassmen and asked for advice. They helped me learn some valuable study skills and also helped me when it came time for registering for second semester. I had mostly late afternoon classes first semester and I realized that I was not using my time in the mornings productively because most days I would just sleep until I had my first class. Some friends recommended that second semester I try scheduling morning classes to get my day started earlier. This has really worked for me. I go to class, meet friends for lunch, and then am able to use most of the afternoons to get reading and homework done. Now my nights are free to socialize with friends and participate in intramurals.

Fresh@News: How did you balance schoolwork and social activities?  Did you find this difficult to do?

John: I am still working on finding the perfect balance, but I feel like I am making progress. I am trying to be more conscious about other things in my life that help me stay focused, even when I am busy. I came down with mono during my first semester because I was run-down, stressed out and not eating properly. I am now trying to stay organized and be careful about what I eat, how much I sleep, and how I spend my time. I have come to realize that time management is key to succeeding here.

Fresh@News: What are some social pressures you experienced as a freshman?

John: When I wanted to stay in and study nights during the weekend, my friends always wanted me to go out and socialize, because they said that there was always a day during the week when you need to relax. Sometimes it was hard to not give in to them, even though I knew I had work to finish. Other than that, though, as long as you keep a good head on your shoulders, college pressures should not affect you. I have learned to be confident in who I am, and try to surround myself with other people I feel comfortable with. This has helped a lot because these people don’t pressure me to be anyone other than who I really am.

Fresh@News: Did you find upperclassmen intimidating or approachable? Why?

John: I found that everyone at Villanova is willing to lend a helping hand, and that all students are so nice and friendly.  I never felt intimidated here because there was no reason to.  If I needed a ride somewhere, an upperclassmen was always there, and if I needed help on homework, upperclassmen went out of there way         to help. They have also helped me a great deal in exploring some new classes to take. I am currently in the College of Engineering, but this semester I tried taking a sociology class on the recommendation of an upperclassmen and I am really enjoying it. I have been talking to him about how I can take more classes like this and exploring possibly changing my major.

Fresh@News: How did your relationship with your parents/family change?  Was there anything your parents did that was really helpful that parents of current freshmen can do?

John: Well, a great deal has changed because I am now living clear across the country from them.  I have learned to appreciate my parents a tremendous amount more because they have made many sacrifices for me to attend Villanova and I don’t get to see them very often.  I try to talk to my mom at least once a day. I would have to say in the short time I have been away from home, I have grown more independent. I have learned to make my own decisions and take good care of myself. My parents have started to notice this and encourage my growth. They were especially helpful at the beginning of the year when the transition was really difficult. They kept encouraging me to stick it out and gave me the confidence to keep trying new things. I was really open with them and tried to tell them how I was feeling and what was going on here because I knew they could help. My mom really helped me set my priorities and remind me about what is important in life. She kept reminding me to be myself and that really helped.

Fresh@News:  What advice would you give upcoming freshmen to help them adjust to college life?

John: Be confident, motivated, and personable. Get involved. Go out of your way to meet people and always be friendly. Your grades are important for your future, so always stay on top of them.  Also, keep in touch with your family and friends from back home because they are always there when you need them. Also, set your own expectations and don’t try to live out someone else’s college experience. You have to figure out what it is you want out of your Villanova experience and be yourself in trying to fulfill it.

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