Fresh Starts and Fall Semesters

Category Student Voices


Portrait of Alli, student
Allison Class of '21 Alumni
Authored on October 19, 2018


As a Western New-Englander, I take fall very seriously.

Growing up the autumn season was a flurry of falling leaves, pumpkin picking and, my personal favorite, harvest fairs. Everything is at its most cozy and beautiful just as nature is about to hit the reset button and move on to winter and spring. I couldn’t help but associate going back to school each fall with my own personal “reset button,” and since coming to Harvard this annual fresh start has been one of my favorite parts of the school year.

My first year on campus I focused my fall on adjusting to college. I met with my academic advisor multiple times to outline my academic, extracurricular, and personal goals for the first semester. She helped me see the value of exploring different academic areas and extracurricular activities while also making sure to preserve time for things like friends, exercise, and self-care. While I had entered school planning to be a Government major and to spend all my time on political organizing and activism, I soon realized I was interested in the social sciences more broadly and in exploring the arts. By the end of the year I found myself wanting to major in Social Studies and spending much of my time writing articles for the Arts section of The Harvard Crimson, one of Harvard’s on campus newspapers.

Harvard Yard trees with fall foliage

There's nothing truly like the view when the leaves change in New England <3 Photo by: Samuel Fisch

This fall, the Charles River in view as I moved my bags into my new campus home of Winthrop House, I set my sights on finding the things that make me happiest at Harvard. I reached out to catch up with friends I lost touch with, took opportunities to build a set for a play and work in an on-campus restaurant, and searched the course catalogue for classes in the History of Art and Architecture department: in which I’ve decided to do a secondary (aka Harvard’s version of a minor). Reaching out to my friends and making time in my schedule to see them has made my friendships stronger and the activities I’m doing have introduced me to even more wonderful people I otherwise wouldn’t have met.

I’m also taking a class called Modern Art and Modernity that has already introduced me to so many amazing artists and paintings that I can remember seeing in museums but not knowing more about. If my first fall on campus was all about adjustment, the second has been all about improvement.

I think what makes college so amazing is not just the wealth of opportunities available and people you meet, but the fact that as you try new things and meet new people you continue to grow and change as a person.

Each semester and school year is different and each fall is a new opportunity to reevaluate and set new goals for the year ahead. I don’t know what changes next fall will bring, but I hope they’ll be as wonderful as all the fall foliage!