Freshmen and Self Control

From free time to buffets.

Creative Commons photo by ToniVC. Source: Flickr

College — it’s synonymous with independence and freedom in many freshmen’s heads. This may be the first time that they are living apart from their parents, figuring out how to budget their money, and learning to manage their time. Heading off to college means living on your own, getting to do whatever you want without constant supervision, and being able to make your own decisions. But this all takes some adjustment. The simultaneously most thrilling and most nerve-wracking aspect of independence is being able to do just what you want. How much self-discipline do freshmen really have?

From the buffet at Annenberg to only a few hours of classes each day, for many, college life is very different from high school life. Here, there is more food, more free time, and more work. A freshmen’s typical day generally revolves around food, work, and sleep, with a couple of extracurricular activities sprinkled here and there.

For some, the buffet in Annenberg poses the threat of eating more than one usually would. “It’s a problem. I’m definitely eating more because the food is just there, ” says Cary Williams ’16. Compared to living at home, where there is a limit to the amount of food for each meal, the limitless portions at Annenberg in conjunction with frozen yogurt available with every meal and the multitude of other sweets and desserts undoubtedly contributes to the age-old problem of the freshman fifteen.

But for others — including those who don’t enjoy the options served at Annenberg — the freshman fifteen doesn’t seem to be a problem at all. “I’m eating less meals a day here — I often just eat one meal a day, but sometimes two. I feel like I’ve lost weight,” says D.J. Badillo ’16.  And many more are still trying to tentatively find their balance in the new college environment with different food options. “It’s hard to quantify,” says Jennifer Kizza ’16. “I eat less at Annenberg, but I find that I’m going to restaurants in the area more. I eat more servings than I did back at home, but I don’t snack as much.”

When it comes to adjusting to the college workload, however, Harvard has no lack of help to give to students. The Bureau of Study Council runs workshops on topics including procrastination, note taking, perfectionism, and reading strategies. Generally, many freshmen appear to be coping well and adjusting rather quickly to the college workload. “I’m actually procrastinating less than senior year. I’m more on top of things,” says Laura Ottinger ’16. Those who take part in time-consuming extracurricular activities find that the time they spend at these activities actually helps them manage their time better. “Since I also do a sport, it really helps because I get back from practice and I know that I need to get the work done with the time that I have,” says Christi Scott ’16.

Although not every freshman on campus takes part in sports, many still take the time to exercise. Despite the worry that some parents may have about their child lounging around their room all day, many freshmen are finding ways to stay fit. “I’m getting about the same amount of physical exercise — around an hour a day. Here, I work out, back home, I danced,” says Sarah Haemisegger ’16. Others go for jogs every morning, take part in field intramurals, or play Frisbee out on the lawn.

Regardless of whether it’s food, homework, or exercise, freshmen seem to be adapting quite well to the new college climate. Although there are currently no statistics on dietary habits or how freshmen spend their time available at the Bureau of Study Council or University Health Services, the class of 2016 seems to be off to a good start.

Milly Wang ’16 (keqimillywang@college) wants all of the freshman parents to know that they can rest easy knowing that their children are doing well on their own.