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An Engineering Freshman's First Week

Unknown faces: Everywhere. Newfound freedom: Every day. One might call it exhilarating, and another might find it frightening. It's a freshman's first week: impactful in every way.

Humans hastened on crowded sidewalks. Some strutted casually with their heads held high and others kept their eyes focused forward, determined to arrive at the correct destination. Though the leaves had yet to transform to colors of orange, yellow, or red, fall semester had arrived. While many of those returning to campus fell back into routine, a group of students became official cougars for the first time: freshmen.

Mixed memories often occupied the minds of continuing students when they reflected on their first year of school: overwhelming. Thrill inducing. Unforgettable.

Freshmen pursuing engineering degrees typically understood the high expectations of the major, and if they didn't, professors would likely let them know. Homework and projects might have appeared demanding and threatening to a student’s grade, especially if they arrived unequipped for the semester. Thus, an engineering freshman’s first week was particularly important.

The week before the semester starts, BYU holds a New Student Orientation to help freshmen find their way to classes, learn about campus resources, and feel more comfortable with their transition to the atmosphere of a university.
Photo by Gabriel Mayberry/BYU Photo

One freshman, Andrew Bouc, confidently stepped up to this next level of education. Since his childhood in Lake Zurich, Illinois, Bouc desired to work in STEM. As a kid, he left library shelves empty of books about space and electromagnetism.

Caught up in the excitement of going to BYU, Bouc never thought to be nervous. Instead, he adjusted to campus settings rapidly, walking through his class schedule multiple times, and exploring engineering opportunities, such as the robotics club he plans to join. Encouraged by his positive start, Bouc moved forward from his first week without looking back.

“Each step [of education] gives you more opportunity to explore what you’d like to do … I know this is the next step where I’m able to do even more than I have in the past,” Bouc said.

However, many freshmen lacked the same confidence endowed in Bouc, not to mention the students who enrolled with undeclared majors. Rachel Lattin came from Logan, Utah to go to school at BYU, just like her parents. Although civil engineering and chemical engineering interested her, she had yet to determine if she would pursue an engineering degree.

If the task of acclimating to BYU becomes too difficult, multiple other students and staff are there to help freshmen feel supported and uplifted in this new journey.
Photo by Gabriel Mayberry/BYU Photo

Lattin studied at a small high school, so when she saw the group of freshmen at new student orientation, she thought to herself, Oh wow, this is a really large school. Then the first day of school arrived. Masses of students roamed around inside and outside. Shock ran through Lattin's system. Suddenly, the school seemed more daunting.

Although the first two days of the semester resulted in rushing around and devoted efforts to remember class locations, by Wednesday Lattin settled into a routine. “It’s going to be better next week,” Lattin reassured, “It is such a good school [with] great learning. I know there’s great opportunities as you get into upperclassmen internships, hands-on experience, research. But, also just making lifelong friends.”

While both of these freshmen experiences differed drastically, important similarities attached the two: Classes were hard, but working in STEM was worth it. The new semester would offer many exciting chances to grow as an individual and as a student. They were both glad they came to BYU.

Whether a student hits the ground running or stumbles a little at the beginning, a freshman’s first week is always memorable.