Fear Not, First Years

Mattie Bruton

Do your palms sweat at the prospect of having to make friends within a totally new environment? Does your breathing become labored when you contemplate writing a ten page research paper? Do you experience frequent nightmares of missing class because you got lost and ended up on the wrong campus?

If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, you might be a victim of First Year Freak-out Disorder, an ailment characterized by the anxieties that come with transitioning from high school to college. Luckily, I know just the treatment for this peculiar syndrome: a liberal (arts) dose of Transylvania University.

Transy knows the challenges that first year students face. That’s why it has a first-year experience like no other.

This experience starts with August Term, a month-long immersive program truly unique to Transylvania. During August term, you take only one class, which is designed to introduce you to college level reading and critical thinking. You also get a chance to talk to, get to know, and exchange ideas with your peers in your August term class.

August Term also gives you a tremendous amount of free time, which addresses an often overlooked difficulty of being a first year- navigating your social life. On other, larger, campuses, first-years are thrown immediately into the fray, required to juggle the obligations of multiple classes with the struggle to find a group of friends they feel comfortable around. August term takes a lot of the pressure off, with fun and casual events like the Orientation Olympics, it’s easy to break the ice and feel less nervous socially. With so much time to get to know one another, and such an intimate, community setting, I can positively guarantee that you will have made some strong friendships by the end of August term. I know I did.

Other benefits to August term include finding your way around campus (for the directionally challenged among us, like me, August term is really a life saver), getting accustomed to dorm life, and fostering relationships with people who can mentor and guide you throughout your transitional year, like RAs, advisors, and August Term Scholars. Even after August term, these people will still be extremely supportive if you ever need assistance or someone to talk to.

But the first year experience doesn’t end after August term. Throughout the rest of the year, first years participate in First Year Seminar and First Year Research Seminar, classes which teach you how to be successful at Transy academically. Since Transy is a largely writing intensive campus, learning how to do things like decipher difficult texts and correctly format a research paper are crucial. And trust me, learning these skills in FYS and FYRS makes classes infinitely easier.

I, too, was once plagued by First-year Freak-out Disorder- until I came to Transy. I know how it feels to be nervous before starting college. But fear not- there is hope. Transylvania University knows how to perfectly cure all the jitters and fears that come with that first year.

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