If you’re wondering what life will be like once you get into college, you’re not alone. Taking that big, next step in life is exciting for some and terrifying for others. Colleges like St. Lawrence University know this and they go out of their way to help make the transition to college a smooth one. Below, eight Saints from St. Lawrence share their insights on what the 1st year experience was like for them.
The 1st Year Experience at St. Lawrence University
Nick Santaro ’18
My friends at other schools are jealous when I tell them: We have everything we need right here on campus. I’m meeting new people and am really close to my friends here because we’re together all the time.
I was pretty nervous about going to a place where none of my high school friends were going. I wanted to meet people and break the ice, so I signed up for the intermediate kayaking Pre-Orientation Trip. It was a lot of fun and we became really great friends. When we got back on campus, the Orientation Leaders did a great job of easing us in to college life. Your orientation group is your First-Year Program, and they are the people you live with and go to lunch and dinner with for the first few weeks. It all helped me feel really comfortable right away.
Amanda Gellis ’18
One thing I tell my friends looking at colleges: The most important part about college is the people. No matter where you go, as long as you can find people you can connect with, you’ll be happy, and that’s what I’ve found at St. Lawrence. The people here are so welcoming and inclusive.
The First-Year Program (FYP) at St. Lawrence is great because you’re in a class with people you live which makes it easier to relate to each other because you have that in common. Our FYP professors were great, too; they even invited us over to their house for dinner. In the second semester, you take an FYS, which is a smaller class that focuses more on research. My FYP and FYS weren’t related to my major, but it was great to do something different, and the skills you work on – writing, research and presentation – will carry over to any class you’re going to take.
Alondra Martinez ’18
One thing that surprised me about St. Lawrence was: If you’re walking behind someone, they will hold the door for you. I come from L.A., where people don’t do that. Everyone does it here!
I came to St. Lawrence wanting to become a pediatrician, and I was stuck on that idea. But when I got here I realized I could take some classes to see what I’m actually good at, and now I’m interested in psychology. That’s the beauty of the liberal arts at St. Lawrence: the classes let you flourish in different ways and let you explore a lot of things about yourself that you didn’t know you had passion or talent for. We’re young and don’t know what we want to do, so now we have the chance to figure it out.
Marco LiCalzi ’18
Something that worried me when I was applying was: “What happens if I have a problem and there is no one to help me? What I’ve learned here is that I will never be alone. There are always people who want to help.”
Getting around on campus is easy. I live in a dorm that is really central and I am able to walk everywhere I need to be within five minutes. I also like to rollerblade to get from place to place, and other people use bikes and skateboards. As for the food, I wanted to go to a school where I would have options for the four years. St. Lawrence has that; there is a lot of variety in choices and places to eat.
Gabrielle Smith ’18
When I’m not in class my favorite things to do are: Dance, hang out with my friends, and talk to faculty. They are some of the coolest and most caring people anywhere. They are great bowls of wisdom and I love hearing about their experiences and getting advice from them.
Almost every student stays on campus during the weekends. There’s just so much to do on the weekends, but also throughout the week. I sometimes feel overwhelmed making decisions on how I want to spend my time. The Association for Student Activities does a great job planning events for students, such as comedy shows and movies. But, so do other clubs and academic departments! Some club or department is always making the effort to bring cultural diversity to the campus, and I really like that.
Emily Parent ’18
My friends at other schools are jealous when I tell them: Our Outing Club sends out daily emails about free hiking, rock climbing, cliff-jumping or skiing trips around the North Country. In the winter, they take students to Ottawa to ice skate on the Rideau Canal!
I really wanted to start a Photo Club so students who love photography could go on excursions, critique each other’s work, and hold workshops. I mentioned the idea during my rowing practice and an older teammate offered to help me make the club official. Then another friend told me about her chemistry professor who loves photography, so I reached out to him and now he’s our adviser! The size of our school and our supportive community made starting the club easy. Now I have a lot of new friends who share the same passion for photography as I do.
Robert Archie ’18
My favorite part about studying off-campus my first semester was: Traveling on the weekends and exploring the world. I’ll definitely study abroad again while at St. Lawrence; it’s a great way to incorporate what you’re learning and connecting it to the real world. But I’m torn about where I’ll go. There are so many cool options to pick from!
I applied for the London FYP because I wanted to see what living in the real world was like before coming to campus. There were eight of us and we lived in flats where we had kitchens and could cook our own food. Our FYP met twice a week and we Skyped with an FYP back on campus and did joint research projects and presentations together. We also got to take classes that helped us learn about London, Europe and our surroundings. When we got back to campus, we went through Orientation and integrated into the FYP we had connected with all semester, which was great and helped us feel at home faster.
Mark Jannini ’18
In the fall, I signed up for the LINC [Laurentians Investing in Networking and Careers] mentoring program, which matched me with an alumnus based on what I was interested in: environmental law. He was an environmental consultant and we talked at least once a month. Between everything he knew and everyone he knew, he helped me map out different career possibilities and connected me with people who could help me – his connections were amazing! Through him and Career Services, I found an alumna who was an environmental attorney just 20 minutes from my house! I met her and within a week secured a summer internship. The LINC Program helped me realize what I want to do, which has helped me better plan my classes and where I’ll study abroad, and has given me a mentor for life.