After the first year of college, a student has not only survived one of the biggest transitions of his or her life, but has also learned a thing or two: where the best coffee is on campus, which professors to avoid, what belongings simply take up space in a dorm room and how to live with a complete stranger.
Fresh out of their freshman year of college, The Evangelist asked local students, "What do you wish you knew before starting college?"
Anthony Grieco, a 19-year-old from Saddle Brook, N.J., is a finance and management double major at Siena College in Loudonville. He first looked at Siena because its president, Rev. Kevin Mullen, OFM, was once the pastor at his parish in New Jersey and is a friend of his father.
"I expected the school to be harder to get around and I expected everyone there to be more introverted," said Mr. Grieco; "but everyone was really friendly.
"I wish I had known to be more open when I first came to the school, to ask more questions, and to be more open with the people I live with rather than just the people I had class with. At the end of the year, they all become your friends and your group."
He admitted to The Evangelist that he only used "about one-fourth" of the things he was told to bring with him to school: "The list said to bring an ironing board, but I didn't even open the plastic on it until the day before my parents came to visit. I didn't want them to think I wasn't using it."
He added that he'd thought the cafeteria food would be better and expected his courses to be easier.
The latter is "a huge misconception about Siena," he said. "Some people think it's just like a community college and not as academically challenging, but it's the real deal."
The student is now working with Siena's admissions department on a marketing campaign, highlighting the college's academics.
Regarding the Franciscan presence on campus, Mr. Grieco shared some words of wisdom for incoming Siena freshmen: "Don't be afraid of the friars. I know when you first walk on campus, you don't know what to make of them, but they're an amazing group of guys and just everyday human beings like us."
For Kevin Horan, a religious studies major at Hartwick College in Oneonta, the first year of college was the chance to challenge himself and try new things he never would have before.
"One of the most important things to do freshman year is to get involved, even in the things you weren't too sure about in high school," he said.
For Mr. Horan, this included playing a lead role in the school's production of "Wait Until Dark," serving as treasurer for the Newman House and joining the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
Though Mr. Horan thrived in his first year of college, there are still some things the Connecticut native wished he had known a year ago: "I went in undeclared but still thought I would become a history or psychology major eventually," he said; "but I randomly took a class in Buddhism, which prompted me to look into religious studies.
"For those unsure about what they want to study, take classes in what you think you will major in and take classes you aren't too sure about.
"I also wish I had known there was an easier math class I could have taken," he joked.