There are few things I consider myself well-versed in enough to give advice on. For example, if you want to know the best soups in the dining hall, I can help you (side note: It’s definitely the lentil). Or if you’d like a rundown on the best study spots, I will gladly recommend the Labs study room or the left side of the library. Other than that, I still don’t have very much figured out. 

However, there are some things I wish someone had told my fourteen-year-old self as I arrived nervous to my Freshman Orientation. 

I have a sneaking suspicion that some of you, this year’s freshmen, are feeling the same way. Maybe you are living away from home for the first time, or maybe this is the first time you’ve attended a school outside your hometown. Perhaps you already have a sibling here or, like me, you know absolutely no one. 

So, in an attempt to save you all from some stress and nervousness, here is what I wish some upperclassmen had pulled me aside to say: 

Take a deep breath. Nothing you do this week (or this semester) will make or break the next four years. Take your time and relax. Everything is supposed to work out and worrying only makes this transition more difficult. 

No one else has it all figured out either. I remember being very intimidated at Orientation. It is easy to feel like everyone else is smarter or more put-together than you, but trust me, they’re all nervous or confused too and are trying to hide it. Even those upperclassmen you see in the hallways don’t know everything. I know someone who didn’t even discover all of Main school’s bathrooms until junior spring. As much as we’d like you to believe we have it all figured out, we don’t. 

There is room for everyone. I am a firm believer that all students find their place at CA, one way or another. Even if it doesn’t come right away, you’ll eventually find your “people” here and discover where you fit into this community. 

Be open to new things. This is, perhaps, the number one thing I would have told my freshman self. Before coming to CA, I thought I had myself all figured out. I planned to study, make some friends, and keep doing the things I had always done. However, not even a month into freshman year, I found myself invested in activities, sports, and classes I hadn’t planned on. Be willing to take on new challenges. Some of my favorite times at this school have come simply because I tagged along to a club meeting with a friend or decided to join a sports team. 

Starting high school, at CA especially, gives you the opportunity to take these risks and to stretch yourself. Trust me, your time here will fly by, so don’t spend all of it worrying. Enjoy this time, in all its awkward glory, because before you know it, you’ll be a senior like me trying to help the new students figure this place out.