Stanford freshman finds transition to college a breeze

May 27, 2010 — by Olivia Chock

Transitioning to college can be tough for most people. Getting used to having roommates instead of having a room all to yourself, navigating a significantly larger campus with thousands more students than at your high school and, of course, having the independence that punctuates the whole experience. But for ’09 alumnus Aaron Garg, who attends Stanford University, the change was minimal.

“I think since I’m still going to school around the same area, I don’t feel as much of a change as the students from further places attending Stanford do. I can still go home a lot and I see my parents pretty often,” said Garg.

Even before Garg moved in at Stanford, he already felt at home. He knew the Palo Alto area well because of its proximity to Saratoga.

Academically, Garg said there wasn’t much of a transition period from high school. He said students from many other high schools are having difficulties, but the academic environment of Saratoga prepares its students very well for college—even competitive ones like Stanford. Garg also stressed the helpfulness of living in a dorm with students who are taking the same classes.

“In high school, I would just study by myself in my room. In college, even if it’s 3 in the morning, I know there’s always going to be someone still up so I can study with them,” said Garg.

Because students are not allowed to choose their roommates, Garg advised students to fill out rooming applications with complete honesty. He said the school does a good job of matching students with like-minded individuals, utilizing an e-Harmony-esque approach that takes juvenile metrics such as how clean they like their rooms and what activities they are interested in.

“I would recommend applying for a freshman dorm. The energy is a lot better and the staff does a great job of making sure you feel welcome,” said Garg.

According to Garg, one of the biggest mistakes college students make is spending too much money on textbooks. Instead, he advises students to go on Amazon.com to check availability in textbooks or borrow textbooks that their friends no longer need.

“The Stanford shop is right there, so students are tempted to go buy brand new textbooks. They’re just so expensive, and you usually only use them for one semester. Sometimes, people will even sell their old textbooks for very cheap,” said Garg.

Garg also said it’s important to apply for clubs at the start of the year. They are a great way to make friends and find a home in a group of people who have similar interests.

“I made the mistake of joining a club second semester. Clubs usually do bonding first semester, so by the time I was in the club, everyone already knew each other so it was harder to get acquainted with people,” said Garg.

Garg’s balancing of his social and academic lives has helped him make the most of his newfound independence, and he believes that incoming freshmen should adhere to this balance too.

“School is always extremely important, but it’s also important to make time for friends and socializing in college. It’s all a part of the experience,” said Garg.

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