Snowy First Day of Classes Allows First-Year Students To Reflect on Wisdom Earned

January 17, 2024 By Renee Grutzik, Renee Grutzik,

University of Virginia students walking to class Wednesday were greeted with a blanket of white snow stretching across Grounds, marking a picturesque start of the spring semester. 

The kickoff to the new semester offers students a fresh start – a chance to reflect on the accomplishments of the fall semester and determine how to improve going forward. 

For most first-year students, the fall semester was the first time they were away from home for an extended time, serving as an adjustment period for the newly minted college students, who learned many lessons in and out of the classroom.

One lesson Alice Chen learned since coming to UVA is the variability of the college grading scale. 

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“I learned that getting an ‘A’ in high school is a lot different than getting an ‘A’ in college,” she said. Chen, who intends to apply to the McIntire School of Commerce, is most excited to take Foundations of Commerce this semester – her first taste of her intended major. 

Chen also looks forward to taking a Chinese course to fulfill her College of Arts & Sciences language requirement. 

After adjusting to the grading differences from high school, Chen has high academic hopes for the spring. 

From bagels and snacks to soft drinks, students found familiar comforts for new schedules and classes as they returned to Grounds for the school year’s second half. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

“This semester, I hope to get straight A's,” Chen said.

Like Chen, first-year student Grayson Archibeque is interested in applying to the McIntire School of Commerce. While applications to the program aren’t due until a student’s second year, Archibeque set a personal goal to demonstrate better time management skills this semester. 

“I learned last semester that time management is everything,” Archibeque said. 

Time management skills are essential to flourish in college, but developing these skills doesn’t happen overnight. As a first-year student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science hoping to study aerospace engineering, Henry Church set a goal of managing his time better to ensure he receives at least seven hours of nightly sleep.

Winter break can seem like a long absence from good friends as students return to the rigors of academic life and the joy of friends and fellowship in the spring semester. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

This semester, Devyn Kate Rieger, a first-year student in the School of Education and Human Development, is most excited to take classes that align closer to her intended major. 

Rieger plans to get more involved in the community service scene through the University’s volunteer clearinghouse, Madison House. She plans to volunteer at the C-Street Cooperative School in Charlottesville’s Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church. 

 “I am excited to work one-on-one with preschoolers this semester to get experience working with children,” Rieger said.

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