Tips for the Coming Year – for New Students

Today’s tips for the coming year will focus on our new incoming students in the Class of 2020.  I happened to see an article on Facebook and discovered that it was written by one of our seniors, Hayleigh Carroll (’17).  The article is entitled “The Top 5 Ways To Be The Coolest And Most Popular Freshman At Wake,” and in it Hayleigh outlines some of the things she wished she had known as a freshman.  Hope our P’20 families – and their Deacs – will find it helpful.

Haleigh’s first bit of advice – don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone – echoes what might be the #1 tip I’d heard all summer at our New Student Receptions.  Upperclassmen/women student panelists consistently said at the receptions some variation of “Don’t be afraid to try something new” or “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there”  or “Get out of your comfort zone.”  And it’s true.  You never know what friends you might make, or what fun new passions you might discover, when you try something different.

A few of the other frequently-mentioned bits of advice that I’d heard repeatedly at New Student Receptions:

Go see your professors during office hours.  Office hours are set times when the professor will be in his/her office just waiting to see students who want to drop in.  This is a great way to get to know your faculty – and for them to know you.

Go to the Student Involvement Fair.  This is the best way to get involved – it will be held on Tuesday afternoon, September 3rd. All the student organizations at Wake Forest will have tables on the lower quad (Mag Quad, aka Manchester Quad).  Each table will have a sign up sheet and students can put their emails down to be added to the distro list.  Caution: don’t sign up for 50 things, or your inbox will be flooded and that can be overwhelming.

Remember that all first year students are in the same boat as you are.  Everyone in the Class of 2020 will experience feelings of nervousness, excitement, etc.  Everyone will get lost at some point looking for their classrooms.  Everyone is trying to meet friends and develop relationships.  So if you have a moment where you feel like “everyone else has it together and I don’t” – remember that everyone else feels the same anxieties and pressures as you do – just perhaps at different times.

If you need help, ask for it.  There are great support resources – academic, emotional, spiritual, residential – that are there for students.  At the first sign of needing assistance, students should reach out and ask for help.  If a student doesn’t know where to turn, a great first resource is their RA (Resident Adviser).

Don’t procrastinate/find a time management schedule that works for you.  While procrastination might have worked in high school, it will not in college.  Students fare best when they find a study space that works well for them (some people need quiet, some people need to be in a public place) and when they regularly schedule homework and studying.  Pro tip: many students have talked about treating 9 am-5 pm like a work day: when you are in class, those are “meetings” and everything else is “office time” when you do your homework, papers, and reading.

You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate.  You want to get along, yes, but roommates don’t have to do everything together.  Roommates can have different interests, different friend groups, etc.  So if your roommate doesn’t feel like your best friend, that’s OK.

— by Betsy Chapman
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