OFF TO SCHOOL
Incoming College Freshmen/Returning Students...
It's been a long time since class was in session in person. Perchance some of you are meeting new peers. For some of you, college is new to you. Worry not, younglings (and, to those of you who would have joined a campus community for the first time last year, welcome to THIS year; we are still so happy to have you); "Professor" Kent (GV class of 08; student from 05 to 10) is here with some hand helpful advice. Maybe some older "students" would wish to help you out too.
MEET NEW FRIENDS
College can be a crazy time (especially arriving for your first time; and perhaps particularly the year after a Pandemic).
Maybe you’re attending school close to home and are fortunate enough to be attending university with grade school friends at your side to experience college together.
Maybe you’ve packed your bags and are intentionally attending school out of State.
Either way, your college years will be a lot easier with friends at your side (if nothing else, you could gain some new confidants and, hey, weeke might be less dull with new friends to share them). Maybe you’ll be very lucky and your new roommates will BE those friends…
For me, I was very fortunate to have met Campus Ministry within very few days of reaching Grand Valley. For the next several years, I had an extensive group of friends to share my weekends; and to confide my hardships in…
When you meet a group of friends like that and find a place to fit in in a new community, you try to schedule time with them (not too much, mind you; you're still at school). For me, that meant Friday/Saturday night weekend activities and mission trips over Spring Break (mostly Habitat for Humanity).
I spoke above of time-management between socializing and classes. THAT lesson is coming back...now.
CREATE A SCHEDULE
It IS important to spend time in a new community of peers once that's been established. If this is ALL that you do with your time at college, your time at University will not last long.
Create a schedule (at least internally) between classes, ample study time, meals, and ample time with friends. (For weekends, sports might fall into "ample time with friends to support your home team" for instance).
I understand that classes and studying are not often the "fun" parts of college (and, for an introvert, the same goes for meeting new people). For an extrovert, for the "fun times" at college to LAST long enough to make great memories, you'll have to work hard at the important parts.
DO YOUR CHORES
This part is CRITICAL to those who now live ON campus (dorms/apartments/fraternity or sorority house/etc.).
Congratulations, junior; you've just moved out of the house to stretch your legs at university. You know who didn't move WITH you to provide a maid and meal service...?
Don't strain your brain too long on that last question.
Clean up the living room after yourself. The dorm room/bedroom could use some picking up from time-to-time too. Offer to help with the dishes. At LEAST do your own laundry (a treasure trove of quarters might be convenient here). Learn to prepare meals; or at least understand when your system needs you to use the campus meal plan to feed yourself.
PARTICIPATE IN CLASS
Depending on your major, your classes may not always be strictly book and paperwork.
A lot of the Political Science or English majors encourage (healthy) class participation.
Learn to speak up for a position (but to do so respectfully).
My writing classes at GV had us craft and submit our student writings for peer review almost every week. "Participation" did not END with writing a review at home. We then had to go to class and face others a constructively honest critique of their work; while patiently and stone-facedly ACCEPTING an appraisal of our own.
Fresh out of a school system where, a lot of times, students are to listen to the teacher, learning to PARTICIPATE in class can be difficult. If nothing else, listen to what OTHERS have to say; and maybe take really good notes.
YOUNG AND IN LOVE.
THIS one's for those of you who turn up at college single.
You're no longer in your parents' home; but maybe some of the VALUES that you grew up with can come into play here.
My own campus had about a 35/65% Male/Female ratio (Then, I dove headfirst into Campus Ministries; with about the same ratio in a smaller, open and receptive microcosm). Granted, the guys were cool to talk to and get sage advice; but I had already been single my entire life way back then. Who I scanned a ROOM to talk to (sometimes, just before shoehorning a "bookmark" into a conversation with one of the "Brothers" and putting them into a corner) were my "Sister" Lakers/"Sisters in Christ."
...Yeah; if my mind and heart AGREED on them being like sisters to me, I might have acted very differently.
The Campus Min. women were a new breed for me, usually offering the receptive warm embrace of friendship. When I put it out there, mistakingly thinking that this was how we were to greet each other at all times in all situations, THAT was a problem (and that life lesson resonates with me today. "The awkward embrace leads off with an equally awkward question.")
Ladies and gentlemen, I can't speak for when you're going to meet your partner in life or your next relationship (if I can't even speak for where my FIRST real relationship is). Maybe they're at university; maybe they're not. Stick to your guns and be yourself. (Oh; and TELL them after an opportune amount of time to establish that you do like them. We people are quite advanced; we are not [yet] psychic or telepathic).
STICK TO YOUR VALUES AND PRINCIPLES
You're grown, you're out of the house, and...you're presented with some tough decisions that you may or may not always feel comfortable calling home and seeking advice about.
This DOESN'T always refer to the advances of the opposite sex as I may have led on in the previous portion. Questions of drugs/alcohol/"the-party-atmosphere" COULD very well come up at least ONCE over the course of 4 some-odd years at University. Maybe even "to-or-to-not-skip-a-day-of-class" is filed under "Principles" too.
Do NOT sacrifice all of your personal values and principles for just anyone/ any group (and try to respect the values and principles of others too. I mean, isn't that how YOU would like your sacred values and principles treated?) When in doubt, it's usually best to have established a core group of peers to share with and help hold you accountable; because you're not always going to want to call home at all hours of the day and lay THAT at your folks' feet; ESPECIALLY not when a huge part of University life is being FREE from home.
IT'S OKAY TO CHANGE YOUR MAJOR!
(A few times).
Most people walk into college their first time with something of a plan as to what they want to DO (and, for those who don't, there is also no shame in going "Undeclared" in your first semester or two while you figure that part out).
If you're lucky enough that the first major you picked is "the right fit" for you, you are very lucky indeed and GO with that.
Some people are not so lucky and they find that their first Major of choice will not be their lasting one...
It's okay to change your Major once or twice throughout your college experience. Maybe the next Major will be a better fit for you (and, hey, if you're really lucky, your next Major isn't that far off from your original one and you've tackled your core classes for BOTH and only have to do two or three extra classes).
Stay true to yourself and, when in doubt about your Major, that's why we have Academic Advisors.
By the way...
KEEP YOUR ACADEMIC ADVISOR APPOINTMENTS
Do what you can to hold these as sacred as possible. Your Academic Advisor is there to help you schedule your next course load and WILL be there to help you through any questions you may have about your Major of choice (that could very well include questions of changing it).
Share with them as honestly as possible and listen to them as closely as you can.
Class dismissed. Thanks for listening, kids. Now go out there and "ANCHOR UP!"
Oooh; that "Anchor up" part, right? Sorry; Grand Valley reference.
"Now go out there and live your best possible campus experience!"
...THAT part's staying.