Student Affairs

Alumni give timeless advice to incoming Clemson Family


Students walking library bridge on campus
Students walk across library bridge at the start of the school year.
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By Sidney Smith, Junior (Class of ’24), Marketing

The first year of college often brings unfamiliar environments, challenging courses and new friendships.

In this transitional period, it can help to look to those who have worn the same shoes for inspiration. Clemson graduates from 1970 to 2022 — who successfully survived their first year in college — have timeless advice to share with the Class of ‘26 to prepare them for this new and exciting journey.

The following Clemson alumni from a variety of majors volunteered their words of wisdom for first-year students’ self-affirmations, academic and social success as well as their recommendations for a Clemson bucket list.

This first piece of advice is one admitted Clemson students have likely heard before, but it rings true throughout all four years — congratulations on being accepted to Clemson University!

YOU GOT IN! Just breathe. Remember to take breaks, hangout with your friends and most importantly, sleep!

Maddi Riester, architecture, Class of ’22

Over the first few weeks of college, there will be many opportunities to join clubs and organizations, gain new experiences and converse with different types of people. This is key to building confidence and friendships.

Try, experiment, never shy away from asking for help and most importantly, let people help you! There are so many amazing people out there in Clemson ready to help you.

Ishan Sharma, mechanical engineering, class of ’21

With new opportunities, though, comes the needed awareness of being spread too thin.

Try not to be too hard on yourself. The comparison game is one you will lose every time. You are on your own path, and that’s a good thing.

makayla stark, psychology, class of ’19

Set a time each day or week to take a day of self-care.

AManda hollowell, class of ’22

Students conversing on campus
Students make conversation with their peers on campus.

To be successful in the transition to college, self-care needs to be a priority. After that, alumni recommend prioritizing academics. After all, attending college is about obtaining a degree to be successful in the future.

Do not short change the time you spend at the library…[there are] too many distractions in the dorm.

paul “randy” bazemore, industrial management, class of ’70

Build relationships with your professors. Beyond the information they share in class, they are a wealth of knowledge. They may expose you to realities you never thought were possible.

tevej rhodes, economics and psychology, class of ’21

As students work toward their degree, they will likely face a new social atmosphere. Having a successful social life is a subjective idea, but these Clemson alumni focus their advice on comfort zones and kindness.

Get out of your comfort zone early. Don’t be afraid to try new things and gain new experiences.

justin green, business management, class of ’20

The most important advice I can give though is to be kind. Never forget to be kind to those around you, all of your fellow first-years and all of your fellow students. If you’re stressed or anxious, then chances are they are too.

tate fowler, world cinema, class of ’21

Don’t be afraid to go to events or to talk to people! Reach out to your peers in your classes to see what you all have in common.

daisha cunningham, accounting, class of ’22

Whether it is the self-affirmations about growing as a person individually, academically or socially, the Class of ‘26 can have comfort in the fact they are not alone. While words of wisdom are helpful, sometimes it is nice to just have a concrete suggestion. This bucket list, provided by the aforementioned alumni, balances their affirmations with 10 tangible items for first-year students to accomplish during their time at Clemson:

  1. Attend all of the first-year student social gatherings
  2. Go to Tiger Prowl (Clemson’s student organization and involvement fair)
  3. Try the gluten-free cookies in the dining hall (they’re the best ones)
  4. Go kayaking at the Snow Family Outdoor Fitness and Wellness Complex
  5. Try different study spaces — THEN pick your favorites
  6. Have a sunset picnic on the dikes or rowing docks
  7. Make a friend in the dining hall
  8. Explore the S.C. Botanical Gardens
  9. Order fried pickles at Loose Change
  10. Learn the words to the Alma Mater

To the Class of ‘26, the time to be a Clemson Tiger is near. Whether inspiration comes from self-affirmations, academic tips, social suggestions or bucket-list ideas, a transformational, exciting journey starts with timeless advice.

After all, time flies when you are having fun.

Albert Einstein and all Clemson graduates, ever
Students at graduation
Members of the Class of ’22 celebrate graduation in Littlejohn Coliseum.