Upperclassmen Look Back On Their First Day At Mason

Students sit outside the East Building at Fairfax Campus. Photo by Alexis Glenn/Creative Services/George Mason University

Stories and advice for new students


Although college life at Mason may seem daunting as a new student, it is good to know that almost every upperclassman (and even some faculty members) were feeling the same way.

Sophomore Melat Tarekegn remembered her first day at Mason.  “I’m not going to lie, the day for me started with a lot of nervousness and self-created doubt but as time went on, I realized that I am not the only one who is nervous and worried about the course work and that I need to open up and relax a little bit,” Tarekegn said.

Prior to opening up, Tarekegn often wondered who would sit next to her, who she would be friends with and how her year would go.  

“Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone and introduce yourself,” Tarekegn advised. “It’s not only good to know others but it’s nice to have someone that has your back in case you miss class.”

Upperclassman Vianca Ortiz was also nervous on her first day as a Mason student.  “Driving to campus, I played my favorite songs to calm my nerves and to keep me awake since I was tossing and turning in my sleep the night before,” Ortiz said.

Students playing cards in the Commons community on the Fairfax Campus. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

Ortiz was worried that her professor would be “cold and stern,” but instead, her professor “warmly welcomed the class with a big smile.”

“I felt more relaxed after meeting the rest of my professors and introducing myself in my classes because I realized that college was not much different from high school,” Ortiz said.  “At the end of the day, I gained confidence and new friends that made me feel happy and ready to tackle my first semester in college.”

Now in her junior year, Ortiz had some advice to give to new students.  “My best advice to new students is to take care of yourself,” Ortiz said. “It is important to stay healthy, eat and get enough sleep. Being healthy and energized helps you to do your work and focus during class.”

Natalie Williams, a transfer student who came to Mason from NOVA in 2017, says her first day at Mason felt “very normal”, which is exactly what [she] wanted.  While attending NOVA, Williams was involved with Mason’s Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM).

Now in her senior year, Williams gave some advice for new students.  “New students should talk to their professors,” Williams said “Go to their office hours! I found a clear difference in classes where I took the time to talk to professors.”

It is important to note that every Mason student will have a different college experience. So, even if your first day or week didn’t go well, keep your fellow upperclassmen’s advice in mind and remember that things can still get better.