The Freshie Formula: What I Wish I Knew in the Online Setting
Trying to fit the 1st year of college into a 16 inch screen, a few thousand pixels, and 2 tiny earbuds was a seemingly impossible task, but somehow these numbers had more or less summed up freshman year. Squeezing the huge experience for many of us into an internet browser was not something we could have calculated—we being the high school seniors with new universities to decorate our Instagram bios and an infinite number of expectations for college. With this, 12 months have loaded and ended quicker than anyone could recount all the modules that we had gone through. As the routines and motions set into place again, I can't help but think of a formula for the perfect freshie in the online setting, made up of all the factors and things that I wish I had known then.
One thing I would have definitely subtracted from my first year was overwhelming myself—whether it be getting 3 modules done in one day, joining 5 orgs without much thought, or signing up for 10 more commitments. As a freshman, it feels impossible to not run to all the things available; the pressure adds up to be a student, friend, org member, leader and so much more. Being 1 person with just 24 hours and 0 experience in university, you shouldn’t have to feel as if you need to race to the finish line of ‘Submit Assignment’. With this, the first thing I wish I knew was to have paced myself properly, to not run to the modules, and to know just how many steps I could take with orgs and academics without losing count and becoming overwhelmed.
If I were to have added anything to freshman year, then, it would definitely have been an appreciation for connection. After almost 7 months of government mandated isolation, it felt strange to see people other than our families, much less make friends over a connection of questionable Philippine internet. As a freshman, and especially an online one, it feels much more comfortable to leave college as soon as Canvas is closed, and much more scary to press Join Meeting. However, after almost 2 years of staying home, I can’t even imagine what it would be like without all the connections I’ve made so far—my closest friends, my blockmates, ACTM, and even my professors. I wish I would have appreciated them earlier, to have known that as a freshman, getting over being shy and pressing Send instead was so worth it. Entering your first year in college online, it feels as if you’ll never be able to form an actual connection with people you only know from the neck up—but it only takes that tap of a button to start. Getting close to 3 people or finding home in an organization were certainly some things I didn’t expect, but through hundreds of messages I’ve learned the worth of connection, megabytes and all.
Calculating all of this, with 12 months, 17 subjects, and 5 Calculus tests done, I’ve completed freshman year. I often felt as if there were so many things I could get right, if only I could do it again; to make it more special, to get higher grades, to be a better freshman. Much of what I know now can be summed up in lessons and numbers—but for some reason, trying to define relationships, learnings, and experiences within the binary of a laptop feels incorrect. With this, feeling as if there is a better formula to compute for the perfect freshman year feels even more wrong. Equating such, I find the last thing freshman year made me wish I knew: that my very first year in college, that I’m taking for the very first time, was meant for all those firsts—whether or not they were how I imagined first year to be.
Now, I’m not really trying to fit the 22 units nor the countless commitments I may have just signed up for into the 24 hours of the day. I often enter calls right after closing Canvas, and I’ve learned to appreciate dead air as the quiet of my classes. As practical and perfectly computed as it may have possibly been, I don’t think we really wish to do freshman year all over again, knowing that the year made us into the sophomores we are, and appreciate, today.
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