Chien Ho, '15, (far right) gathers on Foss Hill (a large hill in the center of the Wesleyan University campus) with other students participating in Wesleyan Mathematics and Science Scholars (WesMaSS). The two-year program helps prepare freshmen for science and math classes and offers research opportunities.

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Chien Ho enjoys Wesleyan’s welcoming atmosphere, takes rigorous science courses

Find out what the members of the class of 2015 are up to in their first year of college. A college freshman is featured in the Freshman Focus every week.

Chien Ho, ‘15, attends Wesleyan University, a small liberal arts college in Middletown, Conn.. Wesleyans don’t declare a major until the end of sophomore year. Ho will attend the Freshman Panel on Thursday, Jan. 7.

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: I’m taking a first-year seminar on writing, environmental history, chemistry, biology and intro to sociology.

I’m also in WesMaSS (Wesleyan Mathematics and Science Scholars), which is recommended for freshmen. It’s a two-year program that I had to apply for. It’s every Friday for an hour. It helps prepare students for science and math classes at Wesleyan with activities and workshops. We don’t go over any material, and it mostly helps with transitioning into college and setting goals. The program offers research opportunities, and research is something I’m interested in doing at Wesleyan in the future.

Q: Which class do you like the best?

A: My first-year seminar on writing because it’s really small. I like small classes because I get to know my professor, and I think large classes intimidate me. There are only five people, so you have to do the reading or else they know. It’s discussion-based and everybody has to contribute, so it’s forced me to speak up. My writing has really improved.

Q: Which class is the hardest?

A: Biology because the professor goes over the material really quickly, so you have to spend a lot of time with the reading. Some of my classmates took AP (Biology) in high school and I haven’t, so it was a little more difficult for me. But it wasn’t too bad.

Q: How are you adjusting?

A: The workload is very challenging, but it’s manageable. At the end of the day, you’ll get everything done.

I was homesick at first, but I was able to adjust. This is the first time I’ve ever been outside of California, but I made a good group of friends and that helps with the transition. I went to Wesleyan for a weeklong course over the summer before orientation started. I got to meet some friends and get accustomed to the campus before school kicked off.

Q: How’s your dorm?

A: Good! I live in Bennet, which is one of the two freshman dorms. I live in a double. It has air conditioning, which a lot of dorms don’t have.

Q: Do you get along well with your roommate?

A: His name is Matthew, and he’s from Brooklyn. He’s a cool dude. He plays like 11 different instruments, but I might be exaggerating. If he practices while I’m studying, I can ask him to stop and he will. He’s really cooperative.

Q: Are you participating in any extracurricular activities?

A: I tutor, mostly in math, but it’s more of a job. I’m a part of two different tutoring programs, and they both focus on middle-school students. It’s a good break from academics and studying. For one of them, I go to a middle school, which is a good break from being in the library all day.

Q: What’s Middletown like?

A: Middletown’s main street is a couple blocks from the campus. It’s a cute town and it’s very small, but Main Street has a lot of very good restaurants. I go in almost every Saturday to eat with a group of friends.

Q: How many people attend Wesleyan?

A: A little more than 3,000. You get to know a lot of your classmates. Whenever I walk to class, I always see a face I know.

Q: What’s your favorite part about Wesleyan?

A: You can do whatever you want to do and no one will judge you. While I was visiting, my shadow kept saying “You be you,” and after I got here I realized how true that statement is. It’s a very welcoming campus.

Q: What surprised you?

A: This might seem silly, but how cold some days are. I’m so used to going outside in T-shirts. Adjusting to the weather was something that I knew I was going to have to do, but I didn’t realize it was going to be so hard. Apparently, this season hasn’t been as cold as it usually is, which is making the transition to the Northeast easier. It’s still really cold at night.

It was also challenging talking to professors because they’re intimidating at first, but it got easier as time went on.

Q: Why did you choose Wesleyan?

A: Diversity was a big factor. It was something that I didn’t know I wanted until I was done visiting different kinds of campuses. I also knew that I wanted to have strong student-teacher relationships, like at Country Day.

Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2016?

A: I’m just going to say Kevin Rossell’s (‘14) advice because I still use it. Procrastinate by doing other work. It makes no sense, but sometimes you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t start at all!

—By Sonja Hansen

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