It’s decision season for many high school seniors deciding where they want to go to college next year. Many have already said yes to the University of Oregon and will be joining the Class of 2023 next year. This time of year is very nostalgic for me, as a year ago I was in their very shoes. I was thrilled to start at UO but also terrified of leaving home for the unfamiliarity of college life. Now that my freshman year is almost over, I want to share some of my thoughts on how to adjust to college life as a new student at UO.
The best choice I ever made as an incoming freshman when thinking about the classes I would register for fall term was deciding to join a First-Year Interest Group, better known as a FIG. FIGS provide the opportunity for students to explore subjects they find interesting while being connected with other faculty and students that share their interests. Students in a FIG meet once a week with their FIG advisor and assistant who connect them with resources on campus and help them navigate their first year as college students.
FIGs come in a variety of categories based on interest, including art, sciences, culture and much more. The FIG that I was a part of was called “Social Progress, Social Change,” which focused on examining race and gender through “anti-racist” and “feminist approaches.” With the other students in my FIG, I took Women’s and Gender Studies 101 and Ethnic Studies 101.
I cannot tell you just how essential my FIG was to my ability to make friends as a new student. Because we all shared the same interests, everyone in my FIG became friends very quickly. We studied together and spent time doing fun things outside of class. My FIG assistant, Zoë Haakenstad, organized trips to Eugene’s Saturday Market and midterm-cramming sessions that helped us get to know each other while still helping us stay on top of school work. Through the time we spent together as a FIG, I was able to make friends that have lasted me the entirety of my freshman year.
Ernesto Martinez, my FIG advisor, was also essential to helping me learn where to go on campus for my most basic needs as a student. He taught my FIG how to reach out to our professors, how to use the campus library as a resource for research and encouraged us to explore Eugene off campus. Because of Ernesto’s encouragement to explore areas off campus, I was connected with Womenspace, an organization which I now volunteer at weekly.
While FIGs are a great place for finding a niche, they only last for one term. When trying to find a club or organization to belong to on campus, my advice is to not ignore your hobbies, even if they do not correspond with the major you wish to pursue. Currently, I am planning on majoring in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies, but I still write for The Daily Emerald, which I almost did not apply for because I am not a Journalism and Communications major. However, writing is something I enjoy and I did not want to give that up just because it is not part of my area of study. As a result, I have found a community of people on campus who care about the same things I do. As long as you are passionate about something, you should always pursue it.
Starting college can be an exciting and extremely intimidating thing to embark on. For UO’s incoming freshman, one of the best things to remember is that everyone in the class of 2023 is anxious about the transition to some extent. However, that anxiety will not last long, and soon you will be enjoying everything that campus has to offer.