Stepping onto Lehigh’s campus as a first-year student can bring fun and excitement, but it can also present intimidating challenges. College brings a more rigorous workload, many new people to meet and a social scene to decipher.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone you already know and trust to show you the ropes?
Some first-year students have received this treatment from older siblings who are seniors at Lehigh.
Though following in the footsteps of an older sibling is often planned, some students with a brother or sister at Lehigh say attending the same school was not always their intention.
Now three months into school, these first-years are more accustomed to the way things work and have settled into the Lehigh community. However, students still said having an older sibling around can soften some of the rough edges of first-year life.
The Port siblings: Michael (’22) and Lianna (’19)
“(Lehigh) was actually further down on my list,” said Michael Port, ’22, whose sister Lianna is a senior. “I didn’t really want to attend the same school, but it was just the way things worked out. And now I am happy that we are at the same school because it’s nice and convenient.”
When it comes to registration and thinking about which classes to take, Michael said having a sibling who already knows a lot about Lehigh academics can be a big help.
Lianna said she encouraged her brother to come to Lehigh.
“He wanted to do computer science and business, so he looked at the CSB program, which is what he is in now,” Lianna said. “I think he is happy he came.”
The Sheikh siblings: Sana (’22) and Sahar (’19)
“I was torn between Vanderbilt and Lehigh and ended up (applying) Early Decision 1 to Vanderbilt, even though I knew I wasn’t going to get in,” said Sana Sheikh, whose sister, Sahar, is a senior. “But as the decision time got closer, I started to realize that I’d rather go to Lehigh than Vanderbilt, especially because I am really family-oriented and my sister and I have always been very close.”
Sana agrees with Michael — informative advice from an older sibling helped ease her transition to Lehigh.
“My sister is majoring in behavioral neuroscience, and we are both on the pre-med track with a focus in biology, so she’s really helpful with what classes to take,” Sana said.
When she was registering for first-semester classes, Sana said she had no idea how to make her schedule. Sahar stepped in and helped her plan all along the way.
Although the social and academic upsides are significant, Sana said you never stop being looked at as someone’s younger sibling.
“The one thing that bothered me walking around campus at night was when people would say to me, ‘Is that Sahar… Oh my god, are you Sahar’s sister… Do you know my friend Sahar?’” Sana said. “That’s probably the one thing that I get annoyed about because nobody really cares about who I am, they just see me as Sahar’s sister.”
However, Sana said Sahar assured her that she is only going to be at Lehigh for one more year, and Sana has the next three years to be her own person and make her own mark at Lehigh.
The Graff siblings: Adam (’22) and Kevin (’19)
Adam Graff, ’22, believes having older brother, Kevin Graff, ’19, at Lehigh benefits him academically and socially.
“He helps me with scheduling, telling me what classes are harder than others, the workload of certain classes — and for the classes he didn’t take that I’m interested in, he’s able to text some of his friends asking them if they took the class,” Adam said. “Socially, he helps me with clubs and Greek life.”
Kevin said he feels responsible for Adam at parties, which he has no problem doing but still feels like a burden nonetheless.
Overall, the students spoke of their first-year experience with their siblings by their side more positively than negatively, and are appreciative of the help and support they receive from their siblings in their first year at Lehigh.