It’s that time of year again, the freshmen are moving into the dorms this weekend and our apartment complex is as busy as a beehive with the new residents moving in as well.
Fall is my favorite time of year (besides the amazing weather and cute clothes) as a higher education professional. Fall is when your hard work is realized and the excitement of a new entering class is everywhere. This post is something I have wanted to write for a long time, so here it is (finally).
I read something this week in reference to moving in that said, “When your mom wants to unpack all of your clothes and make your bed – Let her. When your dad wants to introduce himself to all the people on your floor – Let him. When they want to take pictures of every move you make this weekend – Let them…As you start the new chapter of your life, they are also starting the new chapter of theirs…So let them treat you like their ‘baby’ one last time.”
This speaks volumes because, at the end of the day, they are going to be your biggest support system so don’t cut them out. Lean on them when you are struggling. No one expects you to know how to “adult” in the first year of entering this new stage in life. I can’t tell you how many times I called home from the grocery store to ask what product my mom recommended. Whether it was laundry detergent or what soup when I was sick! I also asked a few mom-looking ladies in the grocery store a couple of times.
Your university will likely have an activity fair or some way for you to learn about the organizations and activities/events you can participate in. Do that! Find out where you fit in. See if your major has organizations dedicated to students seeking the same/similar degree as you. This helps in picking classes/professors, finding study groups, learning about internship opportunities, etc.
This is one of the things I wish I learned earlier on. Do you study better in a group or alone? By using flashcards, reviewing notes, or reading the text? Essentially, be aware of how you study and stick to what makes you successful.
This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many students skip class and then wonder why they failed or weren’t successful. Showing up is half of it!
When you move in make sure to introduce yourself to other students in your dorm. If you are in an all freshmen dorm then they are going through the exact same life change as you. Same goes for your classmates. You don’t have to be best friends with all of them, but you would be surprised who you will meet.
Time management! Determine how you are going to keep track of your assignments, exams, extra-curricular activities, work schedule, etc. Whether this is plugging it into a calendar on your phone or writing it down in a planner the old fashioned way, time management skills are key to success in college and life.
Do not be afraid of them! Most professors are willing to answer questions after class or during office hours. Just make sure you have quality questions.
Much like learning about activities on campus, learn about the services your university has to offer. There may be free tutoring, a place that helps edit your papers, a health center for when you are sick, or counseling services if you are struggling mentally or emotionally. It is ok to admit when you need help. These services are here for you because we all know college is a transition period and it’s challenging.
Going to a party or a bar? Know who you are going with and make a plan for coming home safe. There is nothing more terrifying than finding yourself in a bad situation. Have a good time, but make smart choices.
I mean physically active. We have all heard of the freshmen fifteen (hence the title of the post), but getting involved in intramural sports, going to the rec, or participating in group fitness classes will improve your overall wellness and cognitive function. But please don’t go to the gym for social hour!
Your university offers advising, but take charge of your own degree plan. Understand how to read your degree plan and course sequence. Many students let someone else make these decisions for them, but those individuals make mistakes too. You don’t want to find yourself in the last semester missing one 3-hour course that will keep you from graduating.
Secondly, know what classes you have taken. For example, I was enrolled in an accounting class my sophomore year and during my advising session the advisor listed that class as one to take the following semester. If I didn’t know I was in that class or had already completed it then I could have easily enrolled and retaken a course I didn’t need to.
Find a job! Not only does this offer some income, but it gives you experience to add to your resume. If you can find a job on campus (especially one that aligns with your future career), even better! Campus jobs are great and give you the opportunity to know faculty and/or staff. Work hard and they’ll be your biggest supports when you need references or letters of recommendation.
Again, a no-brainer, but procrastination is real. Just don’t let it get the best of you. If a large project seems overwhelming, work on it a little at a time. Your syllabus tells you what is coming up and getting a head start is important.
Try things outside your comfort zone. Go to a cultural event, visit an art gallery or theater production on campus, consider studying abroad. You learn just as much outside the classroom through experiences.
Most importantly, don’t quit. Earning a college degree does not come easy, regardless of how others make it look on social media. Enjoy the time you have, the memories you will make, and keep marching forward.
I hope you find this list helpful and you take some of the advice to become successful. College really can be the best time of your life so start off on the right foot. Until next post…xoxo Becca
At some point in your college career you will have to email your professor(s). There is certainly a right way and a wrong way. Some students might think this is a ridiculous blog post, but I’m tell you, as a higher education professional I have seen some pretty awful emails from students. Email etiquette is a thing! Here is an example of a bad email to a professor…
To: Science Woman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
can u tell me how to do number 4 on the problem set. i no u went over it in class but i have had a VERY LONG week lol tests ha ha ha and i lost my notes. pleeease help
The question is, is this how you will be emailing your supervisor one day? I would hope not! Let’s talk about the right way to email your professor.
Consult Your Syllabus: The syllabus acts as a contract between the professor and his/her students. It provides more information than a semester calendar and attendance policy. Many questions can be answered by reading the syllabus. It also contains the professors contact information.
University Email Address: It’s important to use your university issued email address. The university provides you an email for more reasons than getting student pricing for Amazon Prime. Bonus tip: Don’t use your university email address to sign up for store’s emails. Your inbox will quickly get bogged down with marketing emails and you might miss something important from the university or your professor(s).
Subject Line: Start your email with a clear subject line. Perhaps what class you are enrolled in, followed by the reason for emailing. i.e. ENGL 1301.01: Homework Assignment 15
Greeting: Emails should have the structure of a letter; a greeting, the body of the letter in paragraph form, and a closing with signature line. The lack of a formal greeting or the casual “hey” will not earn your points. Begin your email with Dear Dr. __, or Dear Professor __,. Consider their education and position before omitting a greeting!
Get to the Point: To begin, identify yourself and what class you are referring to. Construct a brief email containing only the necessary details. Professors are very busy and don’t have time to read through paragraphs of unnecessary information. Lastly, clearly state the intent of your email and what you are seeking. This helps the professor easily identify what it is you need.
Closing: It is wise to thank a professor for his/her time. A closing like, “Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.” or “Thank you for your assistance.” are both good examples of a closing. Remember to also use “Sincerely” “Best regards” or other formal closing before your email signature.
Email Signature: Signing your email, like you would a letter, is also crucial. It gives you one more opportunity to identify who yourself how to can be reached. Your full name, student ID number, and an email address are a good place to start. Many students include their various officer positions in student organizations, but this is extra fluff that is irrelevant to emailing a professor. Unless of course you’re communicating something about your student org.
There you have it, the most effective way to email your professor. These same principles can be applied to emailing university staff as well. If you take nothing else away, identifying yourself (with name and student ID), being brief, and being formal are key!