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  • Posted 7 years ago


Dear Freshman Delaney

A new chapter in your life is about to begin!

By Delaney Sullivan

Dear Freshman Delaney,

A new chapter in your life is about to begin! How excited (and nervous!) was I when I prepared to embark on this new journey nearly three years ago. It will feel different being away from home, not having your old high school buddies nearby, and not being able to eat mom’s home-cooked meals every day. I guess the most difficult thing is no longer having a best friend or even a group of close friends around anymore. It will take some time to integrated into this new community and to make some new friends so, when you begin, be sure to be as social as possible. Attend all the meetings in the dorm lounges, participate in as many activities as you can (ski trip – definitely go to that!), sit next to your dormmates in classes, and avoid, oh please do avoid, sitting in your room all day, only reading books or playing games or Skyping distant friends. There’s a time for that, but at the beginning of freshman year, it’s time to meet some new friends and make some new connections. When you are in your room, leave your door open; an open door is an invitation for others to come in and chat. You may think that the most important thing is academics: learning from professors who know their stuff or getting into medical school, but, in reality, the most important thing to do is to meet new people. You can always do everything else on your to-do list, but making new friends gets more and more challenging as time goes on and as people begin to form their own friend groups.

Upon entering college, I, like so many others, created a four-year plan and envisioned how I want to live out my college experience. While it’s great to plan ahead, I would strongly advise following your plan very, very loosely. Adhering too strictly to a set plan limits your ability to be adventurous and you’ll end up missing out on many wonderful opportunities. It’s great that you want to major in bio, fulfill premed requirements, study some computer science along the way – but have you considered taking some non-academic fun classes or joining (or at least trying out) a student organization or two? There are so many things that I should have done by now (taking social dance, trying out an athletic class like rock-climbing or tennis, or joining a community service organization) and now I am having a difficult time cramming those things into my senior year schedule. So please be adventurous and, perhaps, try out something completely new.

You might have been a star in high school but now it’s time to wipe your slate of accomplishments clean. Stanford is a lot different than high school and you’ll be outclassed in almost everything. If you’re thinking of taking the most difficult classes possible your first quarter because you “like the challenge”; please think again. No matter where you come from, you do not know what skill level you are at in any subject and you do not know how much you can handle. For your fall quarter, you should take easy classes and minimal units of coursework – after you first quarter, then you should have the hang of things and should then register for a more challenging course load. There’s really no need to overbook yourself with courses fall quarter of freshman year; there are 11 other quarter for doing that!

Finally, if you think Stanford to be a perfect, utopian place, think again. Yes, Stanford is an amazing place and I wouldn’t want to go to college anywhere else. I love it here. But is my life perfect here? No. To quote Dr. Seuss: “I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.” Indeed, there are times where you will feel dejected. Dejected because you scored below median on an exam, dejected because you feel left out, or dejected because life gets tough, both socially and academically. But it’s important to keep your chin up, communicate your worries with friends, and remember that mostly everyone here is a victim of the Duck Syndrome.

Now, go out and have fun!
Senior Me (Delaney Sullivan)

Delaney Sullivan

Delaney Sullivan was born and raised in Sacramento, California and was a biology major ('16) with strong academic interests in biology, computer science, and medicine. As an undergrad, Delaney invested a lot of time in cancer biology research at the School of Medicine, tutoring and helping out with the biology core classes, and working on his personal coding projects. In his free time, Delaney enjoys socializing with his friends, playing Japanese role-playing video games, and occasionally playing the piano.

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