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Your Transition to Life at Emory: the Good, the Hard, & the Funny

Alexa is finishing up her first year as a student at Emory College and has some advice to share with any incoming first-year student. The advice is honest, hard, and fun(ny)—because who doesn’t love a great gif? If you find yourself considering Emory, maybe some of this advice will help you mentally prepare to be a student here!

The struggle of transitioning into college is real.

IT HURTS. Not always, of course, or for everyone in the same way, but honestly, transitioning to college can be a hard big deal. Want to know what I mean? Read on!

FUN FACT: Emory University is ranked #20 in the nation (U.S. News & World Report) & there are a ton of amazing students here!

There are a lot of colleges in this big old chunk of land we call America, and the college admission process shows it. Emory is a competitive school to get into, so students who are admitted are all gifted in their own rights. A lot of the admitted students have had successful experiences sticking their fingers into a lot of pies—being leaders in campus organizations; being at the very top of their classes academically, etc.

The reality on campus is that with so many diverse, fantastic, smart students, leadership positions are hard to come by. Work in the classroom is harder. Within your first few weeks, if you’re particularly ambitious and apply for a place in several different clubs that you believe are your collegiate calling, may even hear no. A few times. The truth of the matter in attending a school like this is that, unless you are applying for a position 100% in your high school wheelhouse, you  honestly may not be the most qualified candidate.


Apply anyway. Ok. Don’t apply to everything. Don’t apply to positions because you think it will look good on your resume, or because it’s something you did in high school but didn’t particularly like. When you’re considering applying for a position in a club, think about why you want to do it. Are you doing it because you love it? Or because you feel like you should do it, for the sake of graduate school, law school, medical school, or beyond? If you don’t value what you’re doing, you’ll end up just taking time away from activities that you do love. Really evaluate your intentions. But if and/or when you do get rejected, know it’s okay. REJECTION IS GOOD, ADULT EXPERIENCE TO HAVE.

The first time I was rejected in college was for student government. I had been elected into my high school student government for all four years. But when I ran for a position in college, I earned enough votes to place me 6th of 10 candidates, of which only the top four got the position. I cried. And I know this sounds cliché, but I am so glad that didn’t end up happening. That happened three times. But the interests that I had when I first came in with have refined. And it took me getting rejected from the things that I thought I wanted to be in to realize how I wanted to be a student leader on campus.

So, tip #1: Be prepared to fail and fail hard. And be OK with it. Because it’ll make you a better person! Promise!

FUN FACT: There are a lot of movies and television shows about college, & most of them are hyped up. Not real life.

College turns out to be a ~fAnTaStIc~ time for a lot of people. But if you have certain expectations, and your college life doesn’t live up to it, you will feel disappointed.

Don’t compare your experience to what everyone says it’s going to be like. Have your own experience. Sure, experience things but don’t do things mindlessly because you think that’s just the college life. Each person’s college experience is a little different. Embrace that. It took a no-nonsense, tough-love soccer coach who really set me straight after the terrible first semester that I had. My first semester was nothing like the movies, and I thought that there was something wrong with me because I never had the time to do stereotypically college things. She said, “Who said college is supposed to be fun? The movies? And further, who said life is fair?”

Fun will happen in college, but don’t hold yourself to that standard. You aren’t going to have fun everyday. And that’s okay. OKAY SO EXPECTATIONS SCRAPPED.

Tip #2: Cherish the happiness and take sadness seriously when you need to. All of that is OK!

FUN FACT: Humans are social animals!

One of the most popular narratives about college is meeting life-long friends while having deep, middle-of-the-night conversations in someone’s dorm. And that happens for some people or occasionally to most people. But there’s no need to hold yourself to that high standard.There are around 1,350 students in the first-year class of Emory. Realistically, you aren’t going to meet everyone within the first few days, weeks, or months, if ever. Most of the people I speak to in college say that they met their ride-or-die sometime after their first year. So if you are one of the also many who do find their perfect squad within the first few weeks of the school year (like my roommate), congratulations! Celebrate that and enjoy it!

But if you don’t mean that perfect group right away (like I didn’t, right away), it’s not the end of the world. Keep your options open. What I realized recently is that all of my closest friends here are actually older than me, and that is such a fantastic advantage. They help me along, point me to resources, act as references (most of them are in Resident Life or president of a mutual club) and have fantastic stories. One tip, if you have an identity that Emory has a designated safe space for on campus (Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, female and more coming soon), hang out there to find people with shared identities. You can find amazing people like that!

Tip #3: It’s OK to make friends right away. And it’s OK if it takes you a few months to really settle in.

I hope you’ve found some of my experiences and advice helpful. No matter where you go to school, I’m sure some of this could apply to what you’re about to walk into in August. And just for fun, because some of that was heavy, a lot of de-stressing will be done by watching cats do  really relatable things. Here’s a head start on college cat experiences:

^When you have a 4 page essay due tomorrow

^When life feels bigger than you think it should be

^Trying to hang on to a good GPA over the semester

^When someone treats you to a meal off-campus

Best of luck as you’re deciding where to enroll. And if you do choose Emory, awesome! I hope these tips and gifs help you keep it real.

AlexaYanar_PortraitAlexa Yanar 20C
Double major in Qualitative Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies
Atlanta, GA



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