Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 22, 2021
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Three years out from their orientation (pictured above), the class of '22 has a lot of tips to share.

Incoming freshmen asked; we answered! After collecting the Class of 2025’s top questions and concerns, seniors Laura Wadsten, Claire Goudreau, Adelle Thompson, Amal Hayat and Izzy Geada pooled their thoughts together to tell you what you need to know. 

What are common misconceptions about freshman year?

Laura: That your roommate will be your best friend forever (maybe they will be, maybe they won’t, and that’s okay!).

Claire: It can be really easy to fall into the mindset of “everyone knows what they’re doing except me.” Let me promise you: Most of them don’t. I’m in my senior year, and everyone’s still largely winging it. That’s adulthood!

Similarly, it can be easy to think that “everyone’s having a better/easier/more fun time than me.” College is hard, and we all struggle in our own ways. You’re not as alone as you might think.

What are some things freshmen are typically told to avoid that they should actually do? 

Adelle: Explore Baltimore. Whether it be older students, administrators or faculty, freshmen are often warned against going to certain parts of Baltimore. As a result, they often end up spending their entire four years inside the “Hopkins bubble.” These aren’t usually overt warnings but covert suggestions. Freshmen should go out and learn and judge Baltimore for what it actually is, not based on the biased perception of another person.

Claire: Drop clubs. Freshman year is your time to experiment with your interests. If you’re even moderately intrigued by a club, go to their interest meetings and events! Maybe it’ll be your new favorite thing on campus, and you’ll make some friends with similar interests! If not, no hard feelings! Clubs don’t expect everyone that shows up to the first few meetings to be a long-time member. What’s important is that you find activities and groups that you enjoy, even if it means cutting activities that no longer interest you.

Laura: Do what YOU want to do, not what anyone else has told you.

Also, don’t just focus on knocking out major requirements; try a variety of classes so you can figure out what you actually like before it’s too late to switch your major (you do have time, though — just don’t put all your eggs in one basket!).

Amal: Actually hang out with your resident advisor (RA) and First-Year Mentor (FYM) leader. They are there to provide you with help and also free stuff.

Also, eat vegetables so you don’t get scurvy.

What common things should freshmen avoid doing?

Laura: Don’t pull all-nighters (sleep is really important).

Adelle: Don’t consume media about Baltimore to learn about it if you’ve never been there before. The fictional representation of a city is not going to be a good judge of character because movies and TV are curated to keep people watching, meaning everything is created to provoke a reaction.

Do you have any advice when it comes to mental health in the classroom?

Laura: Be honest and open with professors if you need extra help. Reach out to Student Outreach & Support. Also, try not to be too hard on yourself. You WILL get bad grades and have bad days, but they don’t define you.

How do you manage to balance all aspects of your life while being in school?

Laura: I don’t think anyone has this down 100% (if you do, please contact me lol), but make sure to plan free time and downtime into your schedule. It’s just as important as your other commitments.

Mindfulness has also been super helpful for me! Pay attention to how you’re feeling, and if you’re having a bad day, don’t beat yourself up over it. Go for a walk around campus, watch some Netflix, grab a coffee with a good friend or whatever else will fill you up.

Izzy: Join clubs to find new people, but it’s not high school. You don’t need to book every hour of your day.

What is your favorite way to relax during the semester?

Laura: Hang out with friends, go for a walk at Stony Run (behind the lacrosse field) or spend an afternoon at the Baltimore Museum of Art (it’s free and amazing).

You can also explore the city. One relaxing option is to head to Patterson Park and grab a cone at Bmore Licks (they have hundreds of flavors).

Amal: Go to the Rec Center. It’s a FREE GYM. AND DO A ZUMBA CLASS.

How do you stay motivated?

Claire: Take a variety of classes! If all of your courses are in the same field, you can get bored or burnt out really easily. I make sure to take at least one class every semester that’s entirely unrelated to my majors and minor. It makes you a more well-rounded person while also keeping things fresh and varied!

Laura: Remember why you wanted to be here. Remember that each semester is only 12-ish weeks. Remember that you’re awesome.

How has being a Hopkins student changed you?

Laura: I do feel like a completely different person in some ways than I was freshman year, but I would describe the change as growing into who I really am and who I want to be. At my core, I’m still me — but a more curious, more accepting, more thoughtful version of myself. Take advantage of every opportunity and try to learn from every experience (especially the BAD ones).

What is the most valuable lesson you learned as a student at Hopkins?

Adelle: It doesn’t make you dumb or weak to ask for help. Everything isn’t supposed to come easy; you don’t better yourself by coasting through life. It’s gonna be difficult, so don’t be ashamed of struggling. Ask for help. Reach out for support. Make Hopkins earn all that money you’re giving them.

Amal: The big, black round thing in the FFC that I thought was a weight for the panini press actually has TORTILLAS INSIDE.

How/when do we start building relationships with professors?

Laura: As soon as you want! Professors want to meet you, and there are so many research opportunities, so if you’re interested in a professor’s research, hit them up! 

Also, go to office hours! I started this way too late in my Hopkins career, and I regret it. Professors are just in their office waiting for you, so take advantage of this!

What is the most important piece of advice freshmen should know?

Izzy: It’s actually super helpful to have friends within your major to get extra support, especially as a woman in STEM. Also, if you’re in STEM-heavy classes, use paper notebooks or get a tablet. Taking notes with graphs and equations on a laptop is, like, impossible.

Claire: Buy a wristwatch. For some reason, almost none of the classrooms on this campus have wall clocks (and some don’t even have windows). Purgatory is being in a three-hour class with no sense of time.

Laura: Stay true to yourself, but venture outside of your comfort zone. Everyone here is coming from different places and on different paths. You should not compare yourself to others. I guarantee that if someone else seems to have it all together, they don’t. We’re all just figuring stuff out. 

Questions sourced by Zachary Bahar via the Class of 2025 Discord Channel.

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