This Week’s “Ask Elmer”: Advice for Braving Freshman Year

By Elmer

Advice Columnist

Dear Elmer,

What’s your best advice for freshman about how to survive at Washington College?


A First-Year Fearing for Their Life

Dear First-Year Fearing for Their Life,

The best thing I can tell you is just to take a deep breath.

For most of us, freshman year is the first time we find ourselves living alone, caring for and being cared for by no one but ourselves. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon come to this realization. When you do, you’ll likely experience a moment of terror, and rightfully so.

That said, you can take peace in knowing that this can also be incredibly freeing. You are in full control of what you want to study and how you want to spend your time.

You may find yourself wanting to do everything, and that’s not a bad thing. WC students have a tendency to be involved in more than a few organizations at once, and you shouldn’t have to limit yourself.

Just be mindful that you don’t actually try doing everything. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed — and believe me, you will — take a second to reassess.

Take note of all the things you’re doing and why you’re doing them. If you’re doing something to work toward a particular goal (a career, skill development, personal goals, etc.) that’s great! Remember it’s also perfectly OK to do something just because you enjoy it.

However, if you find you’re doing a lot of things that you don’t enjoy and that aren’t working toward anything, you may want to cut back. Just as important as taking that deep breath is giving yourself the time to do it.

While this works great for extracurriculars, you obviously can’t just cut out a class because you don’t feel like it benefits you.

Even still, the same method can help here. Classes can be enjoyable and fill requirements at the same time, try to have a good mix of both. If you find that you’re not enjoying any of the classes you thought you’d be interested in, it might be time to reconsider your major or minor, even if this seems a bit radical.

If you’re still not happy or still feel overwhelmed, remember you aren’t alone. There are tons of resources on campus to help you find your way. Talk to your advisor for help with just about anything, it’s what they’re there for.

If you feel like you need extra guidance on assignments or are having trouble with academics, you can always check out the Writing Center, Quantitative Skills Center, and Office of Academic Skills.

You can also go to the Career Center if you want to find an on- or off-campus job, internship, externship, or work on professional development.

For more freshman-oriented advice you can check out a recent post on “The Leaf,” the blog extension on The Elm website.

Consider yourself advised,



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