Mikaela Cohen Essay Graphic

Our UGA 101 guide to campus includes letters of advice and recommendation from students and recent graduates. These are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Red & Black. 


Thinking back to the summer of 2016 as I prepared to enroll at UGA, I was scared to leave my hometown to embark on an unknown journey. My two-day orientation alleviated my fears somewhat, but the nerves kicked into overdrive as move-in day approached.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for you, the class of 2024, as your first day approaches with only an online orientation to attend. The only thing that I can give you is the advice from an old, seasoned UGA student who almost experienced it all. Taken with a grain of salt, there are experiences that I wish I took, so I hope you take them instead.

When you move into your dorm, keep your door open. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible because you never know who you’ll hit it off with. Sure, you’ll meet a lot of fleeting acquaintances, and you’ll lose touch with a sizable number of them along the way, but branch out and learn who you are and who you’re compatible with. The person two doors down from you could be your new best friend, or they could be your roommate next year in your first apartment.

Take any class that interests you, even if it has nothing to do with your major. Your first year is meant for exploring. You never know if one class could turn into a minor, double major or inspire you to change your major entirely. If at least one professor doesn’t make you question your mindset, then keep taking new classes.

Challenge yourself and your social constructions. Be open to new ideas, ideologies and philosophies. UGA is filled with students from different countries, religions and cultures — the opportunity to expand your cultural outlook is endless.

You will make mistakes, but learn from them. There were classes I missed because I slept in. There were nights I stayed out too late and there were tests I wished I studied more for. There are professors who saw more in me than I saw in myself. There are people I stopped talking to and I can’t even remember why. There are opportunities that I should have taken sooner. Needless to say, everyone makes mistakes. The key is not making them twice. Keep your mistakes few and far between, and learn from them.

Don’t skip classes, save the late nights for the weekend, study for tests ahead of time, prioritize the friends that prioritize you and don’t sell yourself short. You can be anything you want and college is the time to make that happen.

With coronavirus as the backdrop to your freshman year, you’re already learning how to improvise, adapt and overcome. As a 2020 graduate, I’ve definitely changed during my time at UGA and I wish someone had given me the advice that I’m giving to you.


Mikaela Cohen, class of 2020, has held several positions at The Red & Black including assistant news editor.

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