So you’re about to be a freshman at Cal Poly- congratulations! These next few years you’ll make some great memories, meet amazing people, and learn A LOT (I’m not just talking about the things in your classes). It can be overwhelming, there’s a lot of change coming your way, so take some tips from a few of the old-timers. They’ve already been in your shoes and have (hopefully) picked up a few things since then. Here’s some advice they wish someone had told them during their freshman year.

1. Be fearless. 

“Be fearless. There is so much opportunity in college and this is where you find out who you want to be in life so if you want to do something, go out and do it!! Join that club or take the class you’ve always wanted to! There’s nothing holding you back… [take] the risk!”

 –Hannah Allen (3rd year), Biological Sciences

2. Make good first impressions.  

“First week of a class, make friends. You can have study sessions, collab on tough homework, and fill each other in if you miss a class, plus it’s way more fun to work through a class together rather than on your own.”

-Evan Jameson (3rd year), Computer Engineering

3. Make friends everywhere. 

“Don’t be afraid to talk to anyone, you never know who may end up being your best friend.”

-Delaney Fitzsimmons (3rd year), Biomedical Engineering

4. Don’t think that everyone has it together but you. 

“A lot of time you’ll feel like you’re alone in college but really most of the people in college are going through the exact same thing. You may feel like you’re alone, but you’re not, people understand you more than you think. Also, don’t think you need to pull all-nighters to get A’s”

-Peyton Bilo (3rd year), Biological Sciences

5. When it gets tough, you don’t have to do this alone. 

“Be honest with yourself. College is fun but can be very stressful, so don’t be ashamed to seek a little help at the counseling center or from friends if you ever feel overwhelmed.”

Michaela Barros (3rd year), Journalism

6. Balance school and fun.

“Always make time for fun… It’s easy to get too stressed out over assignments and tests when in the end they aren’t as important as one might think.”

 –Liam Martinez (4th year), Mechanical Engineering

7. Adjustment is hard, don’t sweat the small stuff. 

“Don’t worry too much about the small stuff.  It’s your first time living on your own. In the long run, those things aren’t going to matter.”

-Connor Crowe (3rd year), Experience Industry Management

8. Take time to be in the moment.

“Make time for leisure. You’re in a beautiful area with so much to do. No matter how bogged down you feel, don’t miss out on the opportunities in front of you. Use time walking to class as a way to relax. Take in your surroundings and acknowledge the people you’ve met before (and there will be so many people that you become acquainted with) rather than passing the time on your phone.”

-Larissa Kurtz (3rd year), Landscape Architecture

9. Don’t forget your roots. 

“The first year of college, everything is changing so quickly and its easy to be swept up in the chaos of it all. Take time to get grounded: call a friend or family member back home, reflect on what you’re doing, how you’re changing, and who you want to become. Change is good but you never want to lose yourself in the process. AND, find a way to curb your Starbucks addiction: its not worth the plus dollars or the extra time in the long lines.”

-Megan Melnyk (3rd year), Microbiology


10. Live knowing that you’re in charge of your own destiny.

“Advocate for yourself. Go talk to professors. If there’s someone you want to know better, make an effort to spend time with them. If you’re struggling with the transition from high school to college, talk to someone and get help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you want something, don’t be afraid to go for it. P.S. Campus Market delivers to the dorms if you order over $15.”

-Jeanne-Marie McPherson (3rd year), Microbiology


11. Time flies, make it count.

“Make the most of your college experience because in the blink of an eye it’ll be over before you know it. Also, go to office hours”

 -Swarnjit Boyal (4th year), Civil Engineering



Megan Melnyk

3rd year Microbiology major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. When I'm not writing or studying you can find me running the beautiful trails of San Luis Obispo with my wonderful teammates.

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