It's time to check in with the five college freshmen Fusion is following.
The first time we spoke with them, these three young women and two men were nervous about being on their own but excited at the prospect of a little independence. Now that they've had a few weeks to adjust to the heavier workloads and trickier social situations of a college environment, we chat with each freshman about what's great and what's not-so-great about the first semester.
As we mentioned in our introductory post, Fusion's freshmen class is a diverse group: black and white, documented and undocumented. Some of them attend private, four-year colleges far from home; others are enrolled in two-year, public schools in their own backyards. Each has a unique story to tell.
1. Cece, 19
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
School: American University, Washington, District of Columbia
On time management: "It's good, a lot more work than high school, but manageable if you take the time and plan it out. It can be a little overwhelming, but you've got to do it."
On freedom: "The best thing is having the freedom you have to choose when you're going to hang out with friends, sleep, work… The most surprising thing is how little time there is for everything."
On first impressions:"Honestly, coming in the very beginning was just terrifying. You don't know anyone… knowing that you're not going to summer camp for three weeks… that you're pretty much never going home again."
On dorm food: "It's actually, surprisingly pretty good."
On parties: "I've gone to a few. They're interesting… well, they're kind of gross. Loud, definitely an experience. There're different frats that throw different parties, and each one has a different vibe. Certain ones you know to stay away from, or you're told to stay away from."
On drinking alcohol and doing drugs: Yes. I mean, not to any drugs, but yeah."
2. Denis, 20
Hometown: Washington, District of Columbia
School: Montgomery College, Takoma Park, Maryland
On the first days: "It's been the most exciting thing. It's going well."
On community: "The best thing is the support that you get from the teachers and tutoring centers. Basically that and making a lot of friends. I'm meeting different people and learning a lot from them."
On apartments: "I just moved two weeks ago… to be closer to school. I live on my own now. I need to take the bus, but everything is ok with that… It takes about 35 minutes to get there."
On priorities: "You can get into sports and dancing, things like that… I went to join the soccer club but, because I didn't know how my classes were going to be, I didn't want to spend time in the club because I might need it to study… I want to get involved in classes first and then see if I have extra time. I might join next semester."
On college friendships: "I've been having lunch with my friend. She's from Korea and has lived in the U.S. around three years, so about the same time I came. She wants to be a nurse, too, so we've been hanging out… I don't really see people off campus."
On studying habits: "I do my homework and everything at home. Sometimes I go to the library if I need to print something."
3. Elmu, 19
Hometown: Washington, District of Columbia
School: George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
On boredom: "I'm never really bored in college. A lot of people are texting me. I've never had a dull moment. College is what you make it. There's something to do every single day - homework, socializing, meeting new people, even Greek life."
On the Freshman 15: "I need to learn how to balance my food intake. The Freshman 15… if you're not paying attention, it's not even 15. I gained the Freshman 20 my first week!"
On information: "There's a lot going on on campus, but you don't find out until the day-of, or randomly. Today there was a Latin American organization festival that I didn't know about until I walked past it. Getting to know more info would be great."
On visiting home: "We talk a lot on the phone and we're close but I try to stay away from DC. It's so close it's tempting to go home every weekend, but then I wouldn't be enjoying my college experience. I want to be here, get this in first and then go back."
On all-nighters: "Sleep does not matter. Red Bulls and Monsters will pull you through."
On classes: "Classes are so… I don't want to say easy, but really laid back, really chill. The hardest thing is Arabic."
4. Maria, 18
Hometown: Staten Island, New York
School: College of Staten Island, Staten Island, New York
On living at home: "It's kind of different. [My parents] treat me more like an adult. I used to have some responsibilities but now I have more, more control over my own money and everything I do has consequences."
On professors: "They're basically all funny and really good. One of them makes me tired… He's philosophy so he kind of doesn't finish his sentences, but sometimes he does. If you don't understand him you're screwed."
On working: "I have applied, but haven't heard back."
On costs: "The money! Everything costs so much. The books are ridiculous. Oh my goodness, I wasn't prepared for that."
On new friends: "Some of my old classmates are some of my classmates here and I've also talked to other people, but not too many yet."
On parties: "I'm not really a party type of person… I don't stay at school late."
5. Sarena, 18
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
School: Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia
On the transition: "It was a rough transition, really rough, but it was interesting. I came by myself… but then found other friends so campus seemed to get better."
On knowing when to say no: "Things happened with credits. I tried to get involved, but had to scale back a little… I couldn't do everything."
On free activities: "My mom is putting $100 in my account every month but I don't really need to spend money. I get activities for free… food is included… so I really don't need to spend money."
On dorm life: "I like the girls in my dorm. There are people from everywhere, so there's a lot of lingo, people saying different words… I have a group of friends I hang out with that's a variety."
On communal bathrooms: "I don't like the bathrooms. It takes a lot to get used to."
On feeling contained: "My least favorite thing is not being able to… we have a curfew. And not being able to go off campus because we don't have cars."
On campus safety: "There are cops everywhere, we have an emergency system and I feel very safe… we had a training here today about sex assault… They tell you to walk in pairs… One time, a friend and I were walking from a party and somebody was following us, but there were so many cops, they ended up disappearing. I was nervous about it at first, but I don't know. I don't want to assume anything, but you can tell."
On parties: "I went to two off campus. They were lame, pretty much upperclassmen. They target freshen…It was a lot of drugs and alcohol and they tried to influence you to do stuff… so me and my friend left."
Check back soon. We’ll post an update in mid-October, when our Freshmen Five will be in the thick of midterm exams and papers. They might even have done laundry by then!
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.