By Caroline Beck || Contributing Writer

Starting your first year of college is an exciting yet overwhelming experience. There is a wide variety of emotions associated with the process. On the one hand, you get the opportunity to move to a new place and create a new chapter in your life. On the other hand, you have to leave your hometown, your family, your friends, your bed, and the routines you grew so accustomed to. When I arrived at Franklin & Marshall on August 23 to begin my freshman year, I was not sure how to react to this new transition. I looked around at the beautiful campus and slowly began to realize that this campus would become my home for the next four years. Having spent seven years at a small, tight-knit all-girls school, I didn’t think I wanted to have a new home. I did not want to leave all of those memories or those people behind. Although I knew I was ready to go to college when the time came, I didn’t have any expectations as to what it would be like. All I had was my dad telling me that college is the best four years of your life, which was something that seemed too good to be true.

To my relief and somewhat surprise, the first few days of college were really enjoyable. I decided to sign up for the music pre-orientation program run by Dr. Norcross and some of the upperclassmen, which allowed incoming freshman who were interested in pursuing music at F&M to move in early, audition early for the band or chorus of their choice, meet other first-years, and have some fun. Although it takes me a while to adjust to a new place, I love meeting people and talking to people. This program allowed me to make some pretty amazing friends, and it allowed me to try to ease into college in a nice and relaxing way. It was also nice because I had forgotten what it was like going to school with boys. I was lucky that I had the chance to move in early because if I had chosen to go to another school, I’m not sure if I would have gotten this opportunity. Thankfully, I would not be on my own for the regular orientation and would have people I could hang out with while the rest of the incoming first-years got settled into their dorms.

The four days of regular orientation were long and exhausting, with lots of activities scheduled every day. I was getting more overwhelmed by college and especially the amount of people who were now on campus. I was feeling a mix of doubt and insecurity, asking myself if I had made the right choice in coming here to F&M. I ended up calling my dad almost every day of orientation. One day when I called him, I asked him why he told me that college will be the best four years of my life. He responded by saying he might have been wrong in telling me that and that there was another part to the statement. He told me that although college will include some of the best moments of your life, there will be instances that will prove to be some of the most difficult times in your life. You will be challenged academically and socially. You will meet people who you may never see again or who may end up being some of your best friends. There will be good days, frustrating days, and days where you feel completely alone. You will have amazing classes and boring classes. Above all else, college is a time of growth and self-discovery. You will learn more about yourself in the next four years than you could have possibly imagined. You will have so much freedom and responsibility. You will find happiness in the little things and become more appreciative of the relationships in your life. You will learn and laugh with the friends you make along the way. You will receive a top-notch education and use that education to make a difference in the world. And lastly, you will have the power to create your own path.

This first year of college has been a huge transition for me. I’m still getting used to it a little bit, but I’m confident that I made the right decision in coming to Franklin & Marshall. I’m looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for the rest of the year as well as the next four years.

First-year Caroline Beck is a contributing writer. Her email is