Students standing up and cheering

Students cheer at Scholars Convocation during the first week of classes in August 2019. At Convocation, Scholars students and alumni provided wise counsel to these first-year students on succeeding in college. PHOTO: Lisa Helfert

Student Advice: How to Succeed in College

First-year Scholars students have a lot to absorb in their first couple of weeks at the University of Maryland (UMD): rooming with someone who may be a stranger, navigating a large campus, understanding the expectations of their professors, making new friends.

At Scholars Convocation during the first week of classes, these new college students received advice from Scholars students before them on how they can make the most of their time on campus. Here we share the hard-won wisdom of those students—as well as the advice of other Scholars students and alumni.


Ferddy GedeonFerddy Gedeon_lowerres cropped.jpg

Year: Senior

Major: Psychology

Scholars program: Science, Discovery and the Universe

Campus involvement: Co-president of SPARC (Scholars Promoting And Revitalizing Care), community assistant for Prince Frederick Hall, volunteer at Campus Pantry

Advice: If I were to go back and give my freshman self advice about college, I would tell my younger self to explore all my options. When I first started at UMD, I had a very narrow-minded view of college and what I wanted. But it’s okay to change your mind! It happens a lot more often than you might realize.

Also, you don’t have to hang out just in your Scholars circle. Branch out and make a variety of friends!


Calvin Burns_lowerres.jpgCalvin Burns

Year: Junior

Major: Civil and environmental engineering

Scholars program: Environment, Technology and Economy

Campus involvement: National Residence Hall Association, Student Government Association Sustainability Committee, resident assistant

Advice: Use the resources available at UMD. This school is overflowing with opportunities and professional staff eager to help new students find their calling. Never be afraid to send an email to someone, regardless of their position. Don’t be intimidated by a title—they’re just people, like everyone else.


Christine Rhee

Christine Rhee_lowerres.jpg

Year: Senior

Major: Middle school math and science education

Scholars program: Global Public Health

Campus involvement: Scholars ambassador, resident assistant in Denton Hall, orientation advisor

Advice: Please take advantage of all the Scholars staff and faculty! They are there to support your growth not only as students, but as individuals, too. They are great mentors and resources, but you have to do your part and seek them out.

From personal experience, I know Scholars students are naturally inquisitive and ambitious individuals. But take time to enjoy your first year too! You may feel pressured to ace every exam while getting involved in a bunch of leadership positions… but freshman year is also the year when you make the most friends, so take time to enjoy the journey because time flies in college.


Alexander Eng

Alex Eng_lowerres.jpg

Year: Junior

Major: Computer Science; Mathematics

Scholars Program: Science and Global Change

Campus involvement: Logistics coordinator for Scholars in Action, teaching assistant for CMSC 330 (Organization of Programming languages)

Advice: Keep an open mind about everything you see and everyone you meet. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

The other thing freshmen should know is: The Scholars program is what you make of it. It can be just another class that you have to take during your first four semesters at UMD. Or, it can be a gateway to learning new and interesting things—as well as getting involved with organizations and with people you never would have known about otherwise.


Alejandra MelnykAlejandra Melnyk_lowerres.jpg

Year: Sophomore

Major: Government and politics

Scholars program: International Studies

Campus involvement: Residence Hall Association leadership, resident assistant, Scholars Advisory Board

Advice: Take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. Go on all of the field trips, even if they’re not mandatory. One of the best experiences I had was on a Scholars trip to New York City.

Also, get involved in the leadership of your Scholars program. It is a great way to interact with your director, and you get to know students from other programs as well.


Cyrus Belsoi_lowerres.jpgCyrus Belsoi

Year: Junior

Major: Psychology

Scholars Program: Life Sciences

Campus involvement: Lakeland STARS tutor, Student Affairs Diversity Advisory Council, research assistant

Advice: Be ready to learn a lot about yourself. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And it’s okay to struggle. You will learn a lot about yourself in times of adversity. But by no means are you to do it alone. Lean on your friends and mentors for strength and support.


Share this post