Faculty, students share tips for freshmen

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by ROB CURRY, Assistant News Editor
Freshmen are settling into their first college semester. That is just a few weeks of waking up at the first alarm, of running late or conquering mornings somewhere comfortably in the middle.
Freshmen are collapsing into piles of fresh books and supplies in the plush furniture of the Elliott Union lounge.
Some are navigating the maze of Grinstead or learning which hall will not get them from Martin to Wood.
Week of Welcome has given way to classes, and now that Greek Life has rushed for new pledges and student organizations have welcomed new members, the routine of schoolwork is setting in for everyone.
Ashleigh Blystone, a community advisor in the UCC, advises new students how to use their planners.
“I paper clip old pages so mine opens to the right week. You can highlight classes and class assignments in different colors and mark off completed tasks.”
Dr. Polychronis, director of the Counseling Center, said, “Incoming students may not have the time management skills they need. The challenge is figuring out, ‘How do you deal with big chunks of free time?’ You regulate yourself.”
This means finding out how long it takes to study, do homework, attend meetings, go to class and spend free time with friends.
These skills can come naturally with a responsible student ethic. Haley Steele, another community advisor in the UCC, said, “I believe the speaker at convocation said something to the effect of ‘Make your decision before you have to make it.’” She added, “Make your decision ahead of time to avoid the pressure of the situation. That pressure can lead you to make an impaired decision.
“You can leave for class anytime in the hour before. Be prepped because engagement with class should extend beyond the time you’re in class. You can’t expect to be ready just as soon as your rear hits the seat.” Students can engage classes rather than expect to learn passively.
Polychronis explained, “The student needs to go in realizing they are partners in learning with their professors. They should not come in with the attitude that they are a container the professor is going to pour knowledge in.”
He said engaging professors will help students feel comfortable talking to them and asking for help. However, the advantages of engagement do not just apply to class.
Students should make sure to engage themselves.
“I wish I knew the value of your own attitude my freshman year,” Steele said. She explained that a poor attitude was self-defeating. “Learning voice was an extended process of self-hate, looking at my faults. You have to think positively about your talents, strengths. Find what you care about, and with your work ethic, you can create new goals.” She added that a degree and job experience should be top priorities.
Pursuing goals and managing student life is not something students have to do alone. There are many free resources.
The Student Success Center in room 3150 of the JCK Library offers tutoring and studying strategies. The Writing Center, which has returned this year to Humphrey’s 116, helps students write papers and improve writing habits.
The Career Services Office in Union 302 helps students connect with employers, create résumés and practice for interviews. The Counseling Center in Humphreys 131 helps students overcome personal obstacles and social issues.
These institutions are designed to help students reach success. However, Steele advised to also, “Talk to CAs. We are trained to be aware of the different resources and figure out who can help.”
“Take Rate My Professor with a grain of salt,” Blystone warned. “You’re more likely to hear something when it’s bad than good. Get to know people in your department because face-to-face advice can be more helpful.”
For new students, communication skills will be tested. “The sooner you can build a community, get involved, the better off you’ll be,” Polychronis said. “Become friends with people on your floor, people you meet in class, in organizations. Start an organization. Building new friendships is part of the college experience.”