The Best and Worst Decisions Freshmen Students Make at Notre Dame

Notre Dame Freshman

By Lindsay Sena

By Lindsay Sena
Unigo Campus Rep at Notre Dame

It is inevitable that as a freshman, you will make mistakes. But how much these mistakes affect you and the “best years of your life,” is up to you. My biggest mistake was focusing on the romantic life at Notre Dame—rushing into a relationship too quickly. Being in a serious relationship—one which lasted until the end of my sophomore year—prevented me from socializing with more people of the opposite sex and was also damaging to my same-sex friendships, which are an important aspect of college life. The best decision I made as a freshman, however, is that I was never afraid to ask for help. ND has a great tutoring program for first-year students, so instead of being stubborn when I faced challenges in several courses, I asked for outside help.

Junior Leslie Vaughn made a similar mistake to mine her freshman year.

“My worst decision was coming into school with a boyfriend,” Vaughn said. “I spent too much time worrying about him instead of trying to make friends and get used to being at college. Then we ended up breaking up anyways and I had to start all over while everyone else had already made friends, and was comfortable being at college.”

But despite her boyfriend, Vaughn made a decision that helped her branch out.

“My best decision was joining Project Fresh, a Notre Dame dance group, even though I thought I couldn’t dance. I made awesome friends and it was lots of fun,” Vaughn commented.

Many freshmen believe that their first year is not important academically. It is an “adjustment period,” and therefore it cannot actually affect your future. Junior Kim Fitzgibbon’s worst decision was taking calculus freshman year.

Freshmen Business-majors are required to take calculus, but Arts & Letters majors, such as Kim, who majors in Art History and Anthropology, can opt to take less challenging math courses to fulfill ND’s requirement,

“It hurt my GPA and I could have taken an easier math,” Fitzgibbon said.

Similar to Fitzgibbon, Malia Makowski made the mistake of “bringing my laptop to class.” She said. “I didn’t pay attention and got a bad grade in math because of it.”

Junior Chris Doyen said he underestimated the academic challenges of college.

“I thought I was more than sufficiently prepared to handle the course load with minimal effort,” Doyen said. “Socially, I did not consider the effect priorities and time management could have on my life until I realized that my future was directly dependent on my college career.”

Fitzgibbon and Makowski agree that while the academics are important for freshman, the relationships you build are much more important.

“The best decision I made,” Makowski said, “was branching out and meeting new people. My sister went here, so it was easy and comfortable to latch onto her during my first few weeks. But I am much happier because I branched out. Freshman year is about getting out of that comfort zone that being in high school creates.”

Jokingly, Junior Laura Moore-Shay said that her worst decision was eating too much “fro-yo” in the dining hall. But “talking to an Anthropology professor about getting involved in his research” was the best decision she made. Since freshman year, Moore-Shay has been able to attend several archaeology digs in Ireland. But she still regretted “not going to a lot of ND school spirit things.”