2024 The Academic Comeback - Advice I Wish I Was Given as a First-Year

Category Student Voices


Samia Afrose Class of '25
Authored on January 14, 2024


As a first-generation, low-income student there were many things I felt unprepared for and was unaware of. However, from my experience I would like to share some pieces of advice and tips I wish were told to me as a first-year, so you all are better prepared!

Apply to internships early!!!

Student working on their laptop.

In high school, internship and summer program applications usually came out starting in February. However, in college internship opportunities can be released starting from the Summer before. I recommend starting your applications as soon as you can and taking advantage of your breaks from school to focus on it. You can find internship opportunities at the Harvard Student Employment Office and the Mignone Center for Career and Services.  

Take this year as the time to explore your interests and get some of Harvard College's requirements out of the way

Student studying at a library

One thing I wish I had taken more time and done more research on was classes as a first-year. I recommend taking at least one GenEd class and picking classes in various subjects even ones you have no experience in or are hesitant to explore. Freshman year is your year to have a better idea of what you are interested in. 

Slow down, get organized, and pace yourself - don’t overwhelm yourself with too many commitments

A calendar and clock.
Picture Credit: vecteezy

Transitioning from high school to college can make it very easy to want to join lots of clubs and take many challenging classes. However, it is also important to be sure to pace yourself, balance out your classes, and not overwhelm yourself with extracurricular activities. There are so many classes, clubs, internships, and research opportunities to explore and fortunately, you have four years to explore them!

Use the resources available to you

Students working together

There are countless resources at Harvard and at times it can be overwhelming to remember all of them. I recommend taking the time to get familiar with them and take advantage of them! Do not hesitate to reach out for support from anyone. Coming from someone who has always avoided asking for support I definitely wish I looked into the resources provided at Harvard sooner. Some of the many resources include the Writing Center, the Mignone Center of Career and Services, and the Academic Resource Center. You can check out some of the many resources offered at Harvard here.

As always, sleep!

A koala sleeping
Picture Credit: rawpixel

It can be pretty easy to mess up your sleep schedule and stay up late at night. As a junior, I have finally realized the importance of a healthy sleep schedule. I found myself getting more work done when I slept early and woke up early. You will thank me when you have your 9 am classes.

All in all, everyone has their own unique experience at Harvard. It is okay to make mistakes and to not know things. There are resources at Harvard to help you and you will meet amazing friends from all years to provide you with some guidance. Make sure to give yourself a break and have fun too!


  • Academics
  • First-Year
  • Student Life

Samia Afrose Class of '25

Hi! My name is Samia Afrose.