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This past week, our rising college freshmen came together for dinner and some real talk about what to expect their first year of college. Our students, like many on their way to campus for the first time this fall, have heard a lot of advice about the experience they’re about to have. Most of this seems to come from older teachers, family, or advisors who went to college years ago and can sometimes seem disconnected from the here and now. To bridge this gap in understanding, the highlight of the night was the CSI student panel. Consisting of two newly-graduated UMass Dartmouth students, a student who just graduated from the University of Vermont, and a UMass Boston rising sophomore, the panel was able to cover a diversity of recent college experiences. Freshmen were able to hear about everything from the highs and lows of the first semester to the importance of finding “your people.” A strong theme of the night was community. The older students warned about the dangers of not asking for help or attempting to do everything on your own. It takes a strong community of friends, professors, and mentors to make college happen.