This academic year, Jared Rhee ’22 is a freshman for the first time in four years. Having graduated from Concord Academy in May of 2022, Rhee is currently enrolled in his second semester at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Though the transition from high school to college is one that the majority of Concord Academy students will eventually undertake, Rhee’s experience is, of course, an individualized one. Here are the highs and lows of his journey so far.

Rhee’s workload in college is admittedly much heavier, but he feels that the academic aspect of his transition has gone the smoothest. On time management and work completion strategies, he said, “I would say that CA prepared me well in that regard, and so far, I have not had much difficulty adjusting to the workload and maintaining a healthy coursework/extracurricular/life balance.” Rhee developed his effective methods of workload management through necessary practice in high school. “Definitely take advantage of CA’s resources and think of your classes as a chance to practice that skill to avoid struggling too much in your first few months at college,” he advised.

Of course, transitioning to college has posed challenges as well. If workload management has been the smoothest adjustment, navigating the new social ecosystem of college has proven to be a more challenging obstacle for him. Rhee said, “Predictably, transitioning from CA’s small, connected community to a much larger one has been a difficult process. What I didn’t expect was how much more effort you have to put into forming and maintaining friendships, since you may not see your friends consistently around campus or in classes without making plans like you do at CA.” 

Indeed, the unique sense of connection and freedom at CA is what Rhee misses most about high school. At CA, he recalled, “I felt I could experiment and explore interests in a supportive and risk-free environment: you have the chance to join random clubs, try out for new sports, and take any class that catches your eye without having to think much about graduation requirements.” On the other hand, Yale’s culture surrounding extracurriculars is more rigid: “I’ve found that there are more barriers to this freedom in college, like competitive application processes for clubs and higher time commitments,” he noted.

Though certainly difficult at times, college has presented Rhee with exciting and fresh opportunities of which he is eager to make the most. “Since coming to college, I receive a ridiculous number of newsletters each week from so many cool groups offering so many cool events. There is always so much going on and so many amazing opportunities to pursue: I recently attended an orchestra performance, went to a reading by US Poet Laureate Ada Limón, and talked with the author of the book that we were reading in my seminar when he came to visit. It’s easy to get caught up in classes and extracurriculars, but I’m trying to take advantage of the incredible artistic and cultural enrichment offerings while I can,” he said. 

All in all, Rhee’s experience as a college freshman has thus far been both challenging and fulfilling. As he navigates the new, exciting environment at Yale, he carries with him all that he learned and misses about CA. A wonderful community member no matter where he goes, Rhee is becoming more acclimated each day to life as the same amazing fish in the novel, bigger pond that is college.