Being a new student in college can be either one of the scariest or most exciting times in your life. It can even be both. You might be wondering: how are you going to fit in? How are you going to make friends? Where are your classes? What am I going to do on campus? A part from being a former college freshman, I'm also a trained and experienced First in the PACK mentor - meaning, I work with first-year (more specifically first generation) students to help them adjust to college life. So if you're starting your first year at Loyola University New Orleans this fall, this is for you -- if you're starting somewhere else, then maybe this could help you too.
1. Finding your way around
If you're attending LOYNO in the fall, then you're in luck -- the main campus is only about two city blocks long and everything is about 5-7mins away from each other. Walk too far to the front of campus, you'll clearly see that you're now in Audubon Park. Walk too far back, even thing turns green and you're suddenly at Tulane University. So breathe -- the campus isn't as big as it seems. Regardless of where you're attending, try going to the building where your class is located no less than about 10 minutes early to figure out the exact location of your classroom. No one will think you're weird. I'm a senior and I'll be doing the same. Plus, at Loyola, it's super common to see a bunch of people sitting and waiting in the hall outside of their classroom. Monroe Hall's renovation even included a plethora of new seating and outlets on every floor so you could do just that.
2. Making friends
Not everyone makes best friends at orientation. Not everyone makes best friends during the first week. If you did, there's a big chance that the two of you may not even end up talking once the spring semester starts. And you know what? That's ok. If you're worried about making friends, here's my biggest tip: be yourself.
Yeah, I know, super cheesy, BUT totally true. You don't have to be in the same sorority/fraternity/honors society/dorm etc as your friends or same club as the people you want to hang out with. Think about what you would like to do, what your interests are in, what your hobbies are, what you want to accomplish, and then go out and seek activities or go to the places that interest you. Put yourself out there. You don't have to be the same person you were in high school if you didn't like that. A lot of new students at LOYNO, and I'm sure many other places, meet a ton of people just by joining clubs and organizations. Some of them meet just by striking up a conversation on the elevator or campus event. Like someone's shoes or backpack? Think it looks cool? Tell them. You might make a new friend just by being yourself and making an honest statement.
3. Juggling life
Call your mom. Just do it. Call her, she worries. Call your grandparents. Call who took care of you on a fairly regular basis. Get a planner. If you're terrible at keeping up with planners, use apps. iCalendar, MySchoolLife, and many more have features that help to remind you when/where your classes are, when you have exams, what assignments are due, when those assignments are due, as well as a multitude of other things to help you keep up with your course work. Chances are, you won't remember to do it just from the rush of first year emotions and new college student responsibilities, so set your smart phone up so your technology can do all of that memory work for you.
Also, set time aside to do your work. Whether it's waking up early between 5-7 a.m. to get work done, a special two hours slot between courses, or right after all of your courses end, just set aside time to complete assignments.
If you're struggling in classes, here's a few things to try:
-Tutoring. Most campuses have free tutoring. Loyola has the Student Success Center, Math Lab, and Language Center that are full of trained and experienced people who will give you no cost, judgement free, and super helpful tutoring.
-Talk to professors. Loyola's professors love to help. They're always more than willing to talk about class during office hours or via email. They loved their subject enough to go to grad school for it, so don't think it's a bother trying to ask them to talk about course topics.
-Internet. We live in a wonderful time where tutorials are just crawling all over the web along with helpful tips and academic hacks. Use your Googling powers to your advantage.
4. Theft Prep
Not to alarm you, but people steal things. If you're living on campus, ALWAYS lock your dorm room. If you're outside of your dorm or just on campus in general, please don't leave valuables just sitting around. LOYNO is a private school, but literally anyone can walk onto just about any college campus. BUT...
Even I have left a few things on accident. So here's a few ways to prep in the event that you fall victim to human forgetfulness.
-Register your laptops with campus police. It makes it so much easier if you have to report something stolen. If you attend LOYNO, then you can do that here: http://finance.loyno.edu/police/laptop-tablet-regi...
-Register your bicycles with campus police. LOYNO peeps can do that by dropping by the Loyola University Police Department (LUPD). Also, park you bike at a rack and use a lock.
-If you're a commuter student and lockers are available on campus, please get one. You're not going to want to carry all of your things all day and unlike residents, you don't really have anywhere safe to put your stuff (unless you want to go back and forward to your car all day which is super inconvenient for me personally).
-If you have Apple products, remember to sync all of your devices and turn on the "Find My..." services. I often put my iPhone on silent so having someone call my phone when I can't find it is totally useless. With the Find my iPhone app, I can find the exact location of my iPhone and make it beep all by using my laptop or my iPad. There's also Find My Mac and Find my iPad. I'm sure other smartphone companies have similar features, I just don't know them because I've never used them (Apple Addict Alert). But these features come in handy because sometimes theft didn't actually happen. I've heard of people hiding their roommates things because they were having guests over and didn't want to chance their things being stolen and totally forgetting to tell them. Also, people tend to misplace things in general -- ALOT.
5. Messing up
Hate to break it to ya, but it's going to happen. No one is perfect. College might be the first time you've ever failed a test. You might say something totally stupid to a bunch of potential friends. With going to a Liberal Arts college like Loyola, you may actually end up accidentally calling someone by the wrong pronoun. You may see some really hairy guy in a dress and assume something about his gender identify, but he's really just some guy who's like "Yep, I'm a dude who likes wearing dresses and not shaving, whatever." You might even say something like "God, why doesn't she have a bra on?" to someone else who may also not be wearing a bra and get a very angry lecture about why women shouldn't have to wear bras or you may end up sitting behind someone in class who is only wearing a bra and some shorts and no shirt. College is a learning experience. What ever happens, whatever you say, take responsibility for you actions. No one is perfect. No one knows everything. You may meet and hear about people who do and believe things that you've never heard of before. Doesn't mean that you have to now become these new people. It also doesn't mean you can't join in either. It's all your choice. Life is an experience, but most of all it consists of a ton of trial and error.