t’s the end of the third of classes here at Furman, which is about the time that campus life emerges in full view. Clubs like FUSAB and Shucker are competing for new members. Greek organizations are beginning to recruit, and syllabus week is a thing of the past. For freshmen, this time period is their first taste of college, and while this immense change is welcome for some, it is overwhelming and disorienting for many.
As a sophomore who arrived here mid-pandemic, I have never seen campus so busy. But being here in a year that was much quieter, I felt I had room to learn what makes a college experience truly worthwhile, unpressured by Furman’s many distractions. Here is my advice to our new class:
1. You don’t have to know yet how you want to get involved.
As club fairs and application deadlines approach, it is difficult to not already feel behind. But it isn’t possible to know exactly what you want to do without first feeling comfortable where you are. To avoid missing deadlines, I encourage you to apply to clubs you’re interested in. But remember that you’ll have a clearer vision of how you should make an impact once you get used to life here and experiment a little. And if you don’t get into your first-choice club, don’t be discouraged. My favorite involvements have been ones I didn’t know existed.¶
2. Invest in close friendships, and let others come naturally.
Early in my freshman year, I tended to focus more on increasing my number of friends than the quality of friendships I had. I always felt as though if I wasn’t striving for more friends, I would fall behind socially. Yet as soon as I freed myself from this pressure, I could invest more in the friendships I already had or ones that could be easily made. In truth, it takes months to really get to know someone, so if you see people with groups of friends around campus, remember that those friendships are in their earliest stages. Focus on the low-hanging fruit: the people within your reach right now. Spend time making close friendships rather than agonizing over what other friend groups look like. As you invest in people nearby, others will come into your life in ways you may not expect. My roommate this year is someone I met at a volleyball game that my earliest Furman friend made me attend!
3. Don’t feel guilty about taking alone time.
As you find yourself in more social and co-curricular settings on campus, you may develop discomfort in taking alone time. But it is impossible to stay sane if you never take time to recharge, reflect, and do things you love solo. I promise you will not miss out on anything if you need a few hours to yourself one afternoon.
4. Leave campus weekly.
Being on a small, secluded college campus can become claustrophobic. Luckily, you live near an awesome city! Some of my best memories were when my peers and I left behind the noise of campus and studied at a coffee shop or grabbed sushi downtown. My favorite spots are Swamp Rabbit Café, Bridge City Coffee, Basil Thai, Craft Axe Throwing, and M. Judson Booksellers.
5. Talk honestly with people or seek therapy.
Most of your friends likely feel similar to or exactly how you feel right now. The conversations that started many of my friendships came from my being transparent about how the first weeks of college are hard! Don’t be afraid to seek the advice of people around you or the advice of a professional from the Counseling Center. I wish the Class of 2025 a great start to college and a sense of ease in these first weeks!