Nearly four years ago, I ventured onto the Concord Academy Quad for freshman Orientation, shaky and timid like a newborn fawn. This marked my official transition into high school life, and I was simultaneously anxious and excited. Leading up to my first day, I had internalized every piece of advice bestowed upon me by friends, family, and teachers: “Try new things!” or “Savor every moment; four years flies by!” While their attempts to prepare me were well-intentioned, the prospect of high school still terrified me, and I realized as I moved through Orientation that there was so much I had to learn. 

To any new students experiencing the same uncertainty, especially in the wake of a virtual fall semester, fear not! Here are a few things I wish I had known my first year at CA. 

While it may not be obvious, everyone is just as nervous during Orientation as you are. Those first few days of freshman year can be overwhelming, especially when it seems that friendships have already formed in such little time. As I have progressed throughout my four years at CA, however, it has been very comforting to hear my outgoing peers admit that they were just as nervous as I was during Orientation. 

As you navigate your first year of school, you may notice a slight social divide between day students and boarding students. While CA prides itself on having similar numbers of both, the debate between boarding and day life is a constant topic. Boarders have 24/7 proximity to friends; day students lack off-campus restrictions; boarders argue that they are more immersed in the community; day students can drive. The most valuable lesson I have learned throughout my time at CA, however, is that friendships between day students and boarders are powerful. As a day student, making friends with boarders has provided me with countless opportunities to engage in campus life, whether it be through sleepovers in their rooms, late-night movies in Hobson, or weekend trips to Faneuil Hall. If you are a boarder, you may also find yourself longing for a home-cooked meal or a change in scenery, and having a day student who can invite you off-campus is a huge perk. Hopefully online learning will alleviate some of this divide in the present and into your future years at CA. 

Entering a new school as a freshman entails adjusting to not only a new social environment, but also a new academic environment as well. The CA community is known for its love of learning, which is why the J. Josephine Tucker Library is such a popular spot for students to congregate during free blocks, lunch, and breaks (when attending classes in-person). While the library is a wonderful campus resource, it tends to get crowded, which is not always conducive to productivity. If you are anything like me and require complete silence in order to do your homework, the Concord Free Public Library, otherwise known as the CPL, is the perfect place for you. Located across the street from the Student Health and Athletic Center, the CPL features quiet study areas, collaborative spaces, and nooks that are all incredibly comfortable. This library is my favorite place on extended campus, and the silent, historic ambiance provides a wonderful atmosphere to write papers, study for finals, or simply, relax. Despite school being virtual for the fall semester, I hope that you all will have the opportunity to explore the CPL and CA libraries later this year. 

The transition into a new school may seem overwhelming, especially during this time of uncertainty. With some pieces of advice at your disposal, however, your first year at CA will go by smoothly.