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A couple of months into their first semester of college, the five freshmen Fusion is following have adjusted to dorm life, looong lectures and new social situations. Here they update us on what they wish they'd known a year ago as they began the college application process.

For earlier installments in this series, click on the following links.

Part 1: Fusion's Freshmen Five tell us what college is really like

Part 2: Fusion's Freshmen Five update us on how college is going

1. Cece, 19

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

School: American University, Washington, District of Columbia

(Andy Dubbin/Fusion)

College is "hard work," Cece says, but the people are "really awesome" and she's made "some pretty good friends" in her dorm. The "stress of the workload" can be trying at times, as can adjusting to a social scene with lots of new faces, but overall, her verdict is "so far, so good."

On what she'd tell people applying to college:

You can be happy at most schools, no matter what. You're going to find people to connect with. It's not the end of the world to not get in to your dream school.

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2. Denis, 20

Hometown: Washington, District of Columbia

School: Montgomery College, Takoma Park, Maryland

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(Andy Dubbin/Fusion)

Denis "just had midterms and it was great," he says. The fact that he's "been busy investing time in something productive" makes him proud. Denis enjoys his biology and writing classes, but doesn't have much time to hang out with classmates because he works 25 hours per week at a restaurant to make ends meet and pay for school.

On what he'd tell people applying to college:

You should go. It's an experience that everyone should have. It's a new environment where you need to schedule your time and do things in a specific time frame and be more disciplined. It's a little bit tough at the end of the day, but it's something that will change your life.

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3. Elmu, 19

Hometown: Washington, District of Columbia

School: George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

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(Andy Dubbin/Fusion)

Things "are going pretty ok-ish," Elmu says, but the workload for classes has gotten "a lot more heavy" and there are "essays due every week literally" during the midterm exam period. But everyone in his dorm "is still getting along" and he's trying to organize social activities, like squash games, with friends and roommates. "Everybody here is supportive," he says, and there's always something interesting going on, but the "food quality is so bad" he ends up spending lots of money on meals outside of his meal plan.

On what he'd tell people applying to college:

Research what you want to major in and if you don't know, apply everywhere. Apply to a diverse range of places. Look for scholarships. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by not applying because you think your grades or SAT scores are too low. Schools are looking at more than that.

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4. Maria, 18

Hometown: Staten Island, New York

School: College of Staten Island, Staten Island, New York

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(Andy Dubbin/Fusion)

Maria is "finally getting used to" college, she says, and really enjoys her biology class. Having classes on Saturday and Sunday can be difficult because there are fewer buses from the home she shares with her parents and siblings to campus, but things are generally "good." She had an interview for a retail job recently, which would allow her to earn some money to help with school expenses.

On what she'd tell people applying to college:

Don't focus on what everybody says to focus on. Focus on what you want to do, what you want to major in. If you can do it, great. If you can't, it's ok. Sometimes we think we'll like something, but once we start and see how it is, we don't like it. That's ok. It's always good to have someone to talk to, especially for DACA students. Sometimes you think you don't have a chance. We have to look around and see that there are other people just like us who are succeeding in life. College is not as difficult as everyone said it was.

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5. Sarena, 18

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

School: Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia

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(Andy Dubbin/Fusion)

Midterm week "has been a little bit stressful, a little bit of a challenge studying for everything at once," Sarena says, but she's been having fun "hanging out with friends." Living in a girls-only dorm has had its fair share of drama, Sarena says, and "it seems like people oftentimes don't boost each other up, they bring each other down." But she hopes that will change, because, she says, "as women, we shouldn't do that."

On what she'd tell people applying to college:

Definitely visit. Visit on a day where they wouldn't expect it, when kids are in class, walking around, and you see the atmosphere. Oftentimes, it feels as if schools put on a front for you and you don't get the real experience. Do your research and look into what the school has to offer you. Don't just try to fit into the school. You don't want to change yourself too much, otherwise you won't like it.

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College confession

The following story is from one of the five students above, but is not placed with their name to protect their privacy:

The girls and boys don't really interact in the evenings because all the freshmen have curfew. It's supposed to protect us and lower the rate of rape, since we - everyone, but mostly the girls - are most susceptible during the first weeks of college. So we have curfew at 11 p.m. on weeknights and it's supposed to end at homecoming, except we're not getting off because these visits keep happening. This girl snuck out the laundry room window and went to the boys dorm and someone found out because an alarm went off. Everybody's rooms had to get checked all over again and everybody's mad because they feel like curfew will never end because these incidents keep happening.

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Check back soon. We’ll post an update in mid-November, when our Freshmen Five will be done with midterms and looking forward to Thanksgiving break!

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.