From first year to last: Perspectives on college life by a first-year and a senior


Peyton McKenzie

Associate Opinion Editor Michael LaRocca (left) and Opinion Editor Xavier Cullen (right) both started their QU journey within the confines of The Ledges residence hall.

Xavier Cullen and Michael LaRocca

Getting over the first-year fears

By Michael LaRocca, Associate Opinion Editor

Emma Kogel

I never had a worse pit in my stomach than the one I felt on the evening of Aug. 24, 2021. As I was eating my final dinner at home for the foreseeable future, the weight of my situation finally bore down on my psyche. 

With mere hours before I was to move into Quinnipiac University, I realized I knew nothing. I had monumental expectations for what I wanted my college life to become but no idea of how to get there. I knew nothing about my roommate besides his name and whatever information we exchanged over the few text messages we sent to each other. I was going in blind. 

However, the next day came, and eight months later, I cannot overstate how thankful I am for the decisions I made and where they led me. No matter how cliché it sounds, staying myself got me through the shredder that is adjusting to college, almost unscathed. 

That first weekend — the free trial of the college experience — was a blur. I met dozens of people. Some would become my best friends, and some I would never speak to again, but who was I to judge that at the moment? 

As the weeks went by, my group of friends developed in such a natural way that it felt involuntary. My biggest fear about the college adjustment process fortunately didn’t come to fruition. Just by meeting the people who lived next door, I found a crew that appreciated me for who I was.  

While the people around me fell into place nicely, I knew that I needed to find a purpose. 

Heading to Quinnipiac, I wanted to join student media, but I didn’t really have a focus. In high school, I was my radio station’s program director, so some part of me thought I would follow that path once again. However, as I scoured the involvement fair before it started, I stumbled upon The Quinnipiac Chronicle’s table and was greeted by Editor-in-Chief Michael Sicoli, who I immediately formed a connection with.

After what felt like hours of conversation, I was hooked. 

I don’t know if I was talking to the right people or if I was just plain lucky, but my college world had formed around me seamlessly. All throughout high school, I was told that getting involved with organizations and putting myself out there was the key to a good college life. Only now, after going through it all personally, did I realize they were absolutely right.

This mindset does not strictly apply to students within the School of Communications. Anyone who goes to any school, studying any major, with any interest can find a place when they go to college. Whether it finds you, like it did for me, or you find it, your place will be waiting for you. 

Me writing this piece is not meant to imply that I did not make any mistakes this past year. It took me forever to figure out who I wanted to be outside of my friends and classes. In fact, I don’t think I’ve found the answer, but the big point I take away from it all is that I’m not worrying about it. 

To all of the people I met and never spoke to again, worries I’ve had, friends I’ve made, classes I hated, new things I tried and everything else in between — thank you for getting me to where I am today.

As I head into my second year at Quinnipiac, it would be nice if I were to get more involved in other areas of campus, but I can also say that I am content with where I am. Sometimes, I wish I could go back to my Aug. 24 self and just tell him, “Please relax. Everything is going to be alright. Things may seem odd or even a little scary, but it all works out.”


The road after a rocky start

By Xavier Cullen, Opinion Editor

Emma Kogel

If I met first-day-of-college Xavier, I don’t know if he would recognize me now. It’s been a long three years at Quinnipiac University as I prepare to graduate in a month, and who I am has changed drastically in that time. 

Before I stepped foot on campus in fall 2019, I was shy, awkward and afraid to make friends. I didn’t think college life would fit me well, and I swore I would never party. I’m happy to say I proved myself wrong in all those ways and more. 

When I first arrived at Quinnipiac, I was thrown in The Ledges dorm room with three random roommates, and I could barely sleep because it was so humid in the building. I remember feeling so lost and out of place. My normal awkwardness was heightened when I had to make conversation with guys that I thought I shared nothing in common with.

Flash forward three years, and we’re all still living together, and I’m on The Quinnipiac Chronicle’s editorial board with two of them, Editor-in-Chief Michael Sicoli and Sports Editor Riley Millette. As I look back on my journey so far and the people I’ve met along the way, I began to understand that those first moments, while memorable and the topic of many nostalgic conversations with Mike and Riley, aren’t the biggest moments in my college career.

Everyone talks about the jump from senior year of high school to freshman year of college, but I think a bigger jump comes in the years following that. The shift doesn’t happen overnight. There’s no massive ceremony or party to celebrate it. Instead, it comes and goes without you noticing. While my first year at college completely redefined who I was and how I carried myself, the next two years were crucial in molding me for life beyond school.

Maybe it was because my second year was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, but that time was when I learned how to be an adult. I got past the butterflies of living away from home and focused on maturing myself.

Did I mess up a bunch of times? Absolutely. But I’ve learned that you can’t change the past. I could sit around and relive bad memories or think about what would happen if I did something differently, but what good does that do? 

You will miss assignments, get into arguments with your best friends and forget to call your parents on the weekend. It happens to even the most prepared college students. Everyone has a plan until life punches them in the mouth. You’ll get hit so many times that getting in the ring with Mike Tyson sounds more fun.

But throughout all that hardship, one thing stayed the same — my friend group. I took dozens of different classes, had a few different jobs, met plenty of different people and made so many memories, but my friends were a constant through all of that.

Associate Opinion Editor Michael LaRocca and I were lucky because we were randomly grouped with amazing roommates that turned into great friends. I know plenty of people who had to leave their dorms because of the abuse they experienced from their roommates. 

I don’t know what I would do in that situation, and I won’t pretend to know the answer for it. But whatever happens freshman year doesn’t define you or your college experience. At the end of the day, we’re all still kids trying to grow up in a weird time in our lives. It might feel like you’re in the eye of the storm, but don’t put too much stock into one year or one semester.

Even if you don’t find the perfect friend group, the best student organization or even the right major for you, you still have time to grow and learn. If I could say one thing to freshman-year Xavier, it would be to take a breath and enjoy the fun times while you can. You only get to be young once.