It's your time. You've worked hard to get to this moment, and now classes are about to start. Congrats, and welcome to RC year!
I have a few friends who will be joining the HBS class of 2017, and they have recently approached me for advice. I realized that some of this content may be helpful to the larger community, so I'm also posting it here.
1. Make an effort to form more than surface level connections.
At the start of your first year, your section will have a million social events. You'll chat with your sectionmates and peers from other sections, and then you'll move on and chat with even moroe people. While it's great to get to know a ton of people, try to have conversations that go beyond the typical questions of "Where are you from?" and "What did you do before HBS?" These are the conversations that you'll remember later.
2. Don't stress about commenting in class.
At HBS, 50% of your grade is based on class participation. This means it's critical that you comment regularly in class. Most people suggest trying to comment once in every 2 or 3 classes. Early on, many people try to have the perfect comment. Honestly, there's no such thing. Just say what you believe, and don't be afraid to say something wrong. Your peers are there to support you. Despite the fact that grading is based on a curve, most people aren't actually trying to compete against one another. After the first few weeks, you'll start to understand this better. Also, the quality of comments will progress throughout the year. You don't have to be perfect on day one.
3. It's okay to over schedule yourself, but also take time to relax.
Are you interested in 10 different clubs? No problem, join them all. Want to finally try yoga? Awesome, there's a beginners class every Thursday afternoon. You'll probably see me there. Are you considering 50 different career fields? Cool, there are events for all of them. In business school, there are so many opportunities that it can, at times, become overwhelming. But don't be afraid to explore. Joining a club doesn't mean that you have to attend every meeting. In fact, it basically just means that you want to be on their email distribution list. You can then decide how involved you want to be. If you're the type of person that likes to constantly be doing something, that's great. If you're more like me and enjoy some alone time, that's okay too. Take advantage of the unique resources that you'll have for the next 2 years, but also make sure to take some time for yourself.
4. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Everyone at HBS is super smart. At times, however, that can make it challenging to ask for help. When everyone else seems to be understanding something, it's hard to be the person to say "I don't get it." But honestly, you're not the only one thinking it. HBS offers private tutoring (free) for all classes, and the more technical courses like finance and accounting offer weekly review sessions. In addition, your classmates are one of your best resources. If someone says a comment that you don't understand, invite them for coffee after class and chat about how they got their answer. This will help you understand the material, while also being a great way to form deeper relationships.
I also have given random advice about laptops, school supplies, dating, and other stuff, but these seem to be the topics most frequently asked.