DANIEL RICHARDSON, George Mason University
DR: I was always told by my parents that “You are lucky that you go to Mt. Lebanon, Dan.” I never really understood why until I got to college. The teachers and staff do an excellent job at preparing the students who desire to go on to college. The teachers also prepared me for what college professors expect from their students. I felt like I had more lax professors my freshman year at college as opposed to my high school teachers my junior and senior year.
JT: What was the hardest part of the transition from high school to college?
DR: I would say that living on my own was the hardest part. I have two parents who know my every move at home but at school I have the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Soon into my first semester I realized it wasn’t easy to wake myself up for class, do my own laundry and set study hours for myself.
JT: Is college less or more challenging than high school?
DR: Academically, less. Socially, more. In high school I was to study for seven classes in my senior year. For college I only have to study for five and I have a lot more free time to study as well. I never thought I would have the amount of free time I do until I got to college. As for socially, in college people don’t care what you do. The classes are a part of your major so they are filled with many students that are interested in what you are interested in. You can do whatever you want and not have anyone judge you. I remember the feeling all too well in high school.
JT: How do you balance academics, extracurriculars and a social life?
DR: What every college freshmen needs is discipline. I quickly learned this when my friends were going out for the night and I had two tests in the morning. So I disciplined myself into going to the library, which is quieter then the dorms and staying in on a weekend night to study. I use the “work hard, play hard” mentality to get me through because college should not be a time to stress over hard classes but a time to grow as an adult and having a blast while doing it.
JT: What surprised you the most about college?
DR: Probably the people who I have met. There are around 20,000 undergrad students is the most diverse student body in the country. Northern Virginia or NoVa as we call it, is very diverse because of close location to Washington D.C. So I have met many international and immigrant students including American southerners and northerners. Also, I thought Fairfax was going to be more southern in what I thought but it wasn’t at all.
JT: What’s something you wish you had done your freshman year that you didn’t do?
DR: I wish I had really explored my interests so that I picked the correct major. Even though I am a psychology major and I am proud of that, there is always something in the back of my mind telling me to do something else. But let’s face it, you need to do something you love but also consider the possibility of making that into a career in the real world. You need to be balanced in today’s times.
JT: Are you glad you left Pittsburgh?
DR: I am VERY glad I left Pittsburgh and the bubble. I needed something new and exciting and Northern Virginia has been just that. But it’s funny, I always somehow keep talking about how amazing Pittsburgh is and how the sport teams are the best and the food is excellent. My friends at college think I am obsessed with Pittsburgh. I had Penguins, Steelers and Pirates decorations in my dorm room and one of my backgrounds on my laptop is the Pittsburgh skyline and the other background is the Washington DC skyline.
JT: What was the most memorable part of your freshman year?
DR: The most memorable would have to be getting initiated into the Delta Chi Fraternity. I spent my first semester in the associate member process and it was very difficult but I have incredible bonds with all my brothers in Delta Chi. I also was voted as a freshmen to be the secretary, which is one of the highest leadership position in the fraternity. It was life-changing for me because it pushed me into the direction of becoming a man. I suggest that every college freshmen go Greek because it’s will make you friends easily, prepare you to become a leader and will create the best memories of your college career.