Having worked with and among college students for over twenty years in various roles from director of housing to student affairs to campus ministry at multiple universities and colleges, I’ve noticed some recurring themes and thought I would put together a blog post with some advice for your consideration. I also decided to poll some of my twitter followers and friends and received some suggestions from them as well. Some I agreed with and some I didn’t. But I will share anyway. If you have any suggestions or advice that you would like to share, just add it in the comment box below.
8 a.m. Classes are Evil: this one came from a tweet and made me laugh. Once upon a time I would have agreed. I come from a family of night-owls and so growing up I just followed that schedule. I stayed up late, got up late and avoided 8am classes like the plague. Until one day, working in design lab at 3am (I was an architecture major) I realized that I had been totally unproductive from about midnight on. I was getting annoyed with all the other students who were getting a bit punchy and loud. I decided to go home and sleep. The next day, rather than doing the normal routine of getting into the lab in the afternoon and staying up until the wee hours, I came in in the wee hours and worked through the morning and early afternoon. It was then that I realized that a) I was a morning person and b) that my most effective time was between 6am and 10am. I ended up loving morning classes. And the best thing was that that I had my afternoons and early evening free. The moral of the story, try an 8 a.m. class. You might like it!
Books and Beer don’t mix: This one is self-explanatory and it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun. It is real relationships that make things fun, not the alcohol content!
Be Yourself: You are going to be in a new place, with a lot of new people, away from home, perhaps for the first time. You will want to make friends and so it is easy to fall into the trap of going along with others just to be part of the group. Whether it is about partying or opinions or practicing your faith, you might be tempted to hide who you really are. Or you might wear one mask with one group of friends and another with another group of friends. It takes a lot of energy to be someone you are not. For blog post on a similar topic check out this Busted Halo blog post.
Allow yourself to feel: This was advice I received from a religious sister. Transitions are hard, because everything is new and different. You will most likely get homesick at some point. You may miss friends from high school. There will be times when everyone is happy and excited about being at college, and you are not. You know what? It is OKAY.
Don’t hide in your dorm: Go out and meet people, join a group (check out the Newman Student Org!), start a whiffle ball game, go for a walk and discover new places, go get a cup of coffee and start up a conversation with another student in line.
Don’t try to do it all: This is the corollary to “don’t hide in your dorm”. It is easy to get overcommitted and over scheduled. Try to find a balance between studies and groups and friends, and sleep and exercise and doing laundry.
Find a time and place for prayer: If you are Catholic, commit to going to Sunday Mass (click here for Mass Schedule in Keene), but also find a time and place for daily prayer. Quiet is sometimes hard to find, but check out the chapel upstairs from the Newman Center. Go for a walk around the athletic fields. Find a cubicle in the back of the library.
There are a lot of other pieces of advice, but we will add those in future posts.