College classes weren’t the only “first” that students from the Class of 2023 encountered last week. Freshmen sat down for their first meals at the Dobbs Common Table, gathered for their first hall meetings and took their first ever walks through the Quadrangle. From the Coke Toast to Songfest and the looming threat of midterms, it can be difficult to navigate the first year at Emory. To gather some time-earned advice for first-years, The Emory Wheel interviewed three upperclassmen and one sophomore about their first-year experiences.

These transcripts have been edited for length and clarity.


“Don’t set limitations on yourself.”

Courtesy of Heather Li

Heather Li (22C) is a second-year quantitative sciences major, intending to apply to Goizueta Business School. She is a sophomore advisor in Hamilton Holmes Hall, a tour guide, and a member of both Atlas Consulting Group and Delta Phi Epsilon sorority.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out and push yourself outside of your own boundaries. There are a lot of things in college that you can do. Be aware of all of the opportunities and choices that you have. Don’t set limitations on yourself.”

“Don’t be afraid to be alone. I think a lot of people think that they have to do something with someone else at all times. I think it’s really good to have time to yourself. The more involved you are, the more time you will need to recuperate and reflect. Also, make sure you meet Dooley!”


“You’re here for a reason.”

Courtesy of Emma Davis

Emma Davis (21C) is a junior majoring in biology and international studies. She is heavily involved in research on campus and is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and Emory Atlanta Pediatric Cancer Outreach (APCO).  

“Do all the homework. Do the readings. They suck, but actually do all the readings for all of your classes — especially science classes. Doing the readings really does help.”

“[You might] feel like you aren’t as smart as the people around you. A lot of people at Emory are exceptional students, and in their high school environment they were top of their class. Coming to Emory, it seems like everyone is so smart and so involved. You’re here for a reason. You’re just as smart as everyone else.”

“Also, you should definitely take a random weird class. My freshman seminar was about classics and we talked about how the classical word [is shown] in modern movies. Just take a weird random class in something that just sounds vaguely interesting. Don’t be too focused on career stuff. There’s a really important balance between having fun and sitting in your room all day doing homework.”


“Be excited to fail.”

Nuhan Ahnaf (21C) is a junior double majoring in Arabic and biology. He is also a resident adviser in Few Hall and a member of Emory Arabic Table and Emory Bike Social.

“[Remember] that no one on campus knows each other yet. I would say that is a blessing in disguise. Everyone has a clean slate, and everyone is looking to meet new people. [Freshmen] should keep their minds open because everyone is ready to make friends.

“Keep your mind open and be excited to fail. There will be a lot of failure, but you’ll come back much stronger, and you’ll be surprised to see how far you have come.

“I don’t think a lot of first-years get to do this, and it’s kind of a cliche, but they should travel to all the highest points of Emory. Go to the top of the Rollins School of Public Health, the top of the Emory Hospital or the Rose Library, and just see Emory for what it is. I think that’s something that no freshman should miss out on.”


“It’s O.K. to change course.”

Courtesy of Annie Schiffer

Annie Schiffer (20C) is a senior double majoring in biology and environmental sciences. She is a member of the crew team, a certified trip leader for Outdoor Emory and the co-president of The Pulse.

“My freshman year, I was really trying to decide what exactly I wanted to do. [I had to decide] if I wanted to [continue with] the activities I was involved in [during] high school, or if I wanted to explore new things … I wish that I did a little bit more exploration [before] filtering my activities. I wasn’t involved with Outdoor Emory until my junior year … which is crazy because I now feel that it’s such a defining thing about me.

“Academically speaking, it’s okay to change course. I was on the pre-health track … and I switched to something else and am doing more ecology research. Even if you are sure that you want to do any pre-professional track, make sure that you explore other classes and other majors. You may find that you like something a lot more [than you thought].

“[Music Midtown] is a great way to go out and see Atlanta. You should [also] really take advantage of the Emory Experience Shuttles. Those are a great way to explore Atlanta, and I did a lot of that my freshman year.”