The insider's guide to the Jerome Fisher Program at the University of Pennsylvania

What I’d Tell My Freshman Self: Advice from Sophomore M&Ts

Starting college is exciting…and scary! There’s a lot to discover and at times it can be overwhelming. With so much to learn, where do you start? That’s where the M&T community comes in.

 We asked those who know the college transition experience best, our rising sophomores, to give their advice to the incoming freshman class. See what they had to say!


Don’t worry about getting into the right classes! Be open to changes. It’s common to change classes in the first few weeks of the semester. –Jake Beckerman, M&T ‘20


You are about to embark on a great journey of self-discovery and personal growth. Although it sounds cheesy, freshman year at Penn is a great time to meet people from all sorts of backgrounds and interests. Here is some of my advice as you enter this new stage of your life.

1) Get to know upperclassmen. One of the best things I did first semester was meet up with upperclassmen I knew at Penn. As an eager freshman, I signed up for all those random coffee chats and programs to meet older students. You may think that you’re busy in the beginning of the year, but you really have a lot of downtime. My advice: go on as many coffee chats/lunch breaks with upperclassmen as you can. Classes don’t start to pick up after the first two months of school and it’s helpful to gain insight and advice from older students. I learned about numerous clubs, classes, and programs. Upperclassmen have all been in your shoes and are more than willing to share advice with you. More so, it can mean a lot to see a familiar face walking down Locust Walk during your first few weeks of class.

2) Apply for lots of clubs. Yes, you’ll hear about the competitive atmosphere at Penn. “You won’t get accepted into any clubs, everyone is more qualified.” That’s not true! Spend time on applications for clubs, but focus on the one’s you’re interested in. It’s okay to apply to numerous clubs and get rejected. It’s okay to get accepted to a number of clubs and drop out of the one’s you don’t like. Again, ask upperclassmen about their experiences and what clubs they enjoy being part of. Do what makes you happy and don’t worry about applying to the same one as your friends. Clubs are a great way to meet new people and realize some of your interests. Everyone finds a club, activity, hobby that they enjoy. Don’t feel stressed if it takes you longer to find that community – it is here at Penn.

3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many people come to Penn as the top students in their high school. It’s okay to struggle. It means you are finally being pushed and growing as a person. Tutoring and asking questions is never a bad thing – it’s an opportunity for growth. Form study groups to review for exams, take advantage of all of the resources that Penn has to offer.


4) Schedule your time wisely. Yes, as M&Ts we all have busy schedules. Numerous classes, tons of activities, group projects – the list goes on. But, don’t let that stop you from being social. It’s important to find balance in your schedule. I depended on Google Calendar to organize all my time. Schedule a lunch break or coffee chat during your breaks between classes. Find an exercise routine that fits your schedule. Take the time to meet up with friends and explore Center City over the weekend. Set aside time to study, but also make time to relax. Make the most of your time! -Sophia Moses, M&T ‘20


Meet as many people as possible. The people are the best part of Penn, so don’t limit yourself to just one group. Above all, do what you want to do, not what other people want or expect you to do. You control your future. Good luck – it’s going to be amazing! -Ryan Galvankar, M&T ‘20


Take chances, don’t mistake regret for failure, and stay curious about the people around you. Listen to the colors of words! This is the start of one of the big moments in life, where people are given the explicit opportunity to become who they want to be. And the explicit opportunity to eat great gelato. –Halil Can Memoğlu, M&T ‘20


Sounds cliché, but freshmen year will really go by in a flash. Be open minded to trying new experiences and take the time to appreciate all the new people you meet. -Emily Tan, M&T ‘20




  1. College is all about balance: Trying new things vs. sticking to a routine. Studying an extra hour vs. going out and having a good time. Meeting new people vs. hanging out with older, more familiar friends. Many will tell you to go out, explore, break your comfort zone. I’m not discouraging that, but I suggest keeping some things constant as it’ll help you find stability and peace when you need it most.
  2. College is what you make of it: It’s definitely not necessary, but nice to have a sense of what you want out of your freshman year before you arrive. You’ll quickly realize that you don’t have enough time to do everything! Be proactive, not reactive, in deciding how you want to spend your time.
  3. College is about creating bonds: Be ready to form some really strong friendships. The people get close to are what make Penn so wonderful. As a freshman, everyone is friendly and willing to help you out. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice! There are countless amazing people both inside and outside of M&T, and these people will be your closest friends for the next four years, if not the rest of your life. –Jimmy Xue, M&T ‘20





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