Zoe Berg, Senior Photographer

Yale College’s Fall 2022 term officially concludes classes on Friday, Dec. 9 at 5:30 p.m. For first-year Yalies, completing their first semester marks a milestone in their academic careers.

The first semester is a time where many students are still finding their place at Yale. While navigating the first semester can be difficult, many students report that Yale ended up meeting and even exceeding their hopes.

“Yale has met my expectations and even more,” Andrew Tran ’26 told the News. “The classes have been a good balance of challenging and manageable, and I’ve met many amazing, close friends across many different academic areas.”

Making friends

First-year students from 10 of Yale’s 14 residential colleges live on Old Campus. It is the oldest part of the University’s campus, making it a central site for people to visit.

For Beverly Perkins 26, one of the highlights of first semester was the new friends she made on Old Campus.

“My first semester at Yale has been pretty incredible,” Perkins said.  “I’ve loved getting to know so many interesting people with such different backgrounds, and I really do enjoy living on Old Campus in such close proximity to my new friends.”

Each year, many activities are held on Old Campus to encourage students to meet their fellow first years.  Events such as the annual Fall Festival give students the opportunity to connect with one another.  

Another tradition that Old Campus is widely known for is the Freshman Snowball Fight.  After the first snowfall during the winter, there is a huge snowball fight held on Old Campus.  The snowball fight is one of the many non-academic events that allow the first-years to connect.

Overall, Perkins has had a very positive experience at Yale so far. Though some classes are challenging, she expressed that she is “learning a lot and making lots of friends, which makes up for the work.”

Navigating course selection, resources and advising

Yale College offers over 80 majors. The vast number of majors gives students the flexibility to explore and connect with the many departments and academic resources across the University.

The first semester is a time when many students choose to explore the over 2,000 courses offered by Yale College.  Some students come to Yale knowing exactly what they want to study, while others treat the first semester as a time of exploration. 

Howard Dai ’26  described his experience as a first-year student looking to pursue a STEM degree.

“My classes aren’t too bad so far; a lot of my workload actually comes from Chinese,” Dai said. “One thing I wish I had more of is balance in my schedule, because right now it’s all problem sets for homework, and because two of my problem sets are due on the same day, I’ve been worried about the future as the classes get harder.”

Students are required to fulfill distributional requirements. This includes a minimum of two credits in social sciences, humanities and arts and sciences.  Additionally, students must complete skill requirements by enrolling in at least two courses for credit in writing, quantitative reasoning and language proficiency. This allows students to explore classes that they would not normally take.

Another first-year student, Ivan Sinyavin ’26 , shared his experience with the global affairs department.

“A highlight of Yale so far  has been learning from renowned experts in my classes and events on campus,” Sinyavin said.  “The faculty and opportunities at the Jackson School are incredible, and I’m excited to take more classes.”

Each department has a Director of Undergraduate Studies which students can reach out to when selecting classes in their area of interest.  The emails for each DUS can be found on each department’s website.  Students are strongly encouraged to reach out to the DUS for the majors they are interested in.

Extracurricular activities

At the beginning of each year, Yale holds an extracurricular bazaar in the Schwarzman Center.  Various student groups fill the center with posters, pamphlets and equipment to advertise their activities toward students. 

The extracurricular bazaar is where many first-year students are first introduced to the many activities offered by the University.

First-year student Lailah Nabegu ’26 described her experience with finding extracurriculars that met her interests in STEM. 

“There are a lot of opportunities for mentorship through programs like STARS and affinity groups,” Nabegu said.  “There’s also a surprising amount of opportunities to do STEM outside of classes and I’m personally training with the STC as a student tech, and I do front-end web development for a Yale computer society team.”

Winter recess officially starts at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 21, and spring term classes begin at 8:20 p.m. on Jan. 17, 2023.

Adam Walker is the University Editor of the Yale Daily News. He previously covered Yale Law School for the University desk. Originally from Long Island, New York, he is a rising junior in Branford College double majoring in Economics and American Studies.