With prospective students visiting campus and finals coming up, it’s almost time for the class of 2022 to finally move on to their second year of college. The first year of college at Columbia is one memorable year. Who doesn’t remember those awkward NSOP mixers and Carman parties? Of course, being the youngest class also means taking time to get used to life at Columbia and making lots of questionable decisions along the way.
With the academic year coming to the end, it’s the perfect opportunity for the first-years to reflect on their first year of college. Here is what the class of 2022 has to say about their first-year regrets on both their academic and social lives at Columbia.
The overly ambitious ones:
“If there’s anything I could change about my freshman year, I would definitely start homework right when it’s assigned; I would attend classes and keep track of all my exams. … It’s been a rough year, as you can tell.” —Anonymous, SEAS
“I would say definitely start your P3 for UWriting earlier. … I’ve spent some very long nights trying to catch up on that. It’s not pretty.” —Paul, Columbia College
“8:40 classes are a bad idea. It depends on what type of person you are, but they were definitely a bad idea for me. Also, go to class … of course.” —I., Columbia College
The gullible one:
“When someone says something is an easy A and you think you’re going to be fine, it’s still time that you have to spend doing work. So I would suggest trying to minimize how many classes you take freshman year because you’re not just learning in school, you’re also learning about yourself and you have to make friends and do other things, so just take the appropriate amount of classes … and sleep!” —Lisa, Barnard College
The night owls:
“Definitely [regret] taking a late physics lab this semester. It goes from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and the lab reports are due at the end of class, so it’s very stressful and I don’t feel that I learned a lot. So, definitely avoid taking late labs.” —Hannah, Barnard College
“This semester I’m taking a history recitation that starts at 6 p.m., and I just get bored and tired so definitely don’t take late recitations, especially if it’s a class you’re not particularly interested in.” —C., Barnard College
The efficient planners:
“Spread out your classes! Try to actually attend most lectures so you don’t have to end up catching up at home. Although it might seem like less of a hassle, it’s going to be more of a hassle because you’re probably going to end up having two or more tests in one week and you’ll have to cram two months of info, which is kind of tough.” —Mossen, SEAS
“Don’t take five classes a semester. If they’re, like, heavy … two-hour-long classes as well, big no. Don’t do that ever. So bad.” —Khadija, Barnard College
“My biggest regret is overloading on classes. I was in the vicious cycle of thinking that I should take or at least try to take 21 credits per semester in the hardest classes I could take because I had no conception of how hard classes would actually be. Another change I’m making is not doing things you don’t actually like just because they ‘look good.’ I’m realizing that it’s best to do things you really enjoy rather than doing things just because they’re hard or looked well upon by society or prestigious. I also chose to transfer to CC from SEAS for that reason.” —Noah, SEAS
“I regret not going to office hours enough. At first, I thought I needed to have a significant question on something I couldn’t figure out any other way to go to office hours, but now I realize people just go there to get to know the professor.” —Yasemin, SEAS
The ‘too cool for school’ ones:
“Carman is overrated.” —Khadija, Barnard College
“I would definitely not recommend going out all three nights of the weekend. I can say from personal experience it’s horrible having to catch up on school work at Butler all night before an exam because you were out during the weekend. Definitely won’t make that mistake again.” —Anonymous, Columbia College
The social butterflies:
“I think at Columbia I definitely feel like there’s a lot of pressure to branch out and make as many friends as possible. But although you should do that, you should definitely just find a good friend group that you like and share common interests with instead of bouncing from one group to another.” —Mossen, SEAS
“At first during ISOP and NSOP, I felt like it was socially okay to approach people and start chatting with them because everyone was just starting to get to know each other. But after a while, I felt like I just interacted with a closed group of people and stopped trying to get to know other people. If I had the chance, I’d change that and try to interact with more people during that time frame between NSOP and that moment I realized I should be talking to more people.” —Yasemin, SEAS
“The main advice that I would give is to branch out socially. … Make sure you make friends with everyone you possibly can and talk to as many people as you can and don’t get locked into your friend group because you’re still figuring things out.” —Mikaela, Barnard College
Looks like it’s been an interesting year for everyone! For any incoming first-years reading this, we hope you learn from the class of 2022’s mistakes. As to the current first-years, we wish you all good luck on your finals and hope to see you all applying this advice to the rest of your time here.