Student to Student: Words of Wisdom for Incoming Students

The first year is perhaps the toughest. Here, past and present students reflect on their first year in Georgia Tech Ivan Allen College and share words of wisdom for incoming students. Find more reflections and student to student advise in our Alumni Success Stories and Student Profiles.

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“There's a learning curve. Not on your math test or that English portfolio, but for the year as a whole. Freshman year pushes you to grow in more ways that anticipated, so go easy on yourself! You're not going to have it figured out all at once. It takes time to create your new life. So when you fail that first test, and then don't do too hot on the second one either, remember it's a learning curve. When you spend 20 minutes trying to figure out how the laundry machines work, remember. When you get lost on campus, miss your pets at home, or get locked out of your dorm, remember. When you finally figure out that food trucks take your BuzzCard or that the third floor of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons has an ice cream vending machine, you're finally catching up to the curve. So take pride in the both the victories and the failures because both represent your growth. Freshman year is exciting, frustrating, freeing, overwhelming, constantly changing, and overall really quite remarkable. Enjoy it!”

- Emily Bunker (Literature, Media, and Communication)
Hometown: Peachtree City, Georgia

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“If anyone would have given me some words of wisdom at the beginning of my freshman year, I would have loved to hear someone tell me that college will definitely compel you to expand your mind and broaden your horizons. I've transformed so much this past year both physically and mentally, but I wish I hadn't fought my transformation as much as I did in the beginning of the year. I thought I would have the same types of friends, style, taste in music, and that not much would change about me, but I couldn't have been more wrong. I've stepped out of my comfort zone far more than I ever saw myself doing and I've loved every second of it. So try new things, and don't be afraid to be different from who you have been in the past. College is the best chance for new beginnings!”

- Janelle Owusu (Public Policy)
Hometown: Buford, Georgia

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“The most important thing I learned freshman year was how to love being me. For freshmen, my biggest piece of advice is to get involved in an activity you love doing on campus, whether that means continuing something you did before college or picking up a whole new hobby or skill. College becomes infinitely easier when you have a community of like-minded individuals to help you out and pick you up when you get knocked down.”

- Will Thomas (Economics and International Affairs)
Hometown: Peachtree Corners, Georgia

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“I think my most important takeaway from freshman year is to keep an open mind and not take things so seriously. I came into this year thinking that college was all about academics, and that couldn't be further from the truth. Although academics and grades are definitely crucial to your success at Georgia Tech, I think what makes the entirety of the college experience so great is what we do outside of the classroom or the lecture hall. The clubs and organizations that I'm a part of, along with the real friendships and connections I've developed, are truly what made my freshman year memorable. So much growth happens during your first year of college, and while a part of that growth is purely academic, I think most of it comes from the memories you make and the experiences you have outside of that — without a textbook, laptop, or a phone in your hands.”

- Aradhana Chandra (International Affairs)
Hometown: Alpharetta, Georgia

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“My advice is to not take the advice of the majority. Do not fear a school of which you are unprepared for. If you were unqualified, you would not be here right now. Instead, here you stand with your head held high and an acceptance letter in hand. Take every opportunity to meet those around you. A true friend can come from the most unexpected places, particularly on the days you are down. Surround yourself with those you aspire to be like and move forward and ahead confidently with their wise counsel in hand. You have an extraordinary four (or more) years ahead of you, and it will blow each forethought or indecision entirely away. Confidence is key, and your future awaits!”

- Emily Finger (International Affairs and Modern Languages)
Hometown: Newnan, Georgia

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“It's important to make sure that you love the things you're doing, whether that's your extracurricular activities or your major. I frequently over-commit myself and that's definitely something I wish I had been more conscious of this year. There's a limited number of hours in the day and it's important to be positive that you're spending it in the most effective way possible. There are times that assignments and meetings can be unenjoyable or tiresome. But if every meeting or every assignment makes you feel like you're swimming through molasses, don't be afraid to reconsider your decision to be involved with that particular organization or to pursue that particular major. It's much more important to be happy with what you do than to finish something just because you started it.”

- Elli Goebel (History, Technology, and Society)
Hometown: Decatur, Georgia

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“One of the most important things I learned during my freshman year was the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself. Earlier in the year, I was interested in joining a few organizations that happened to involve a lot of public speaking, which was never a favorite activity of mine. Despite that, I applied to and joined them, and I'm very happy I did. Not only am I passionate about what I'm doing with these groups, but I've also improved my public speaking. My advice to incoming freshmen would be to find something that you're passionate about or always wanted to do and get involved, even if it's not something you would typically do.”

- Janel Gale (Economics and International Affairs)
Hometown: Snellville, Georgia