By Lesly Luna
On move-in day your loved ones probably flooded you with advice for this new chapter in your life. A chapter with augmented responsibility and self-accountability in which we are expected to be adults (but really aren’t). Congratulations on making it this far, and I hope you make the most out of the exciting years and memories ahead of you in college.
The following is a collection of bits of advice concerning survival of your first year here at Salem:
- Focus on academics. While college is a fun experience, you must be dedicated to doing your coursework to succeed. It is important to know yourself and develop healthy study habits according to your personal preference. For example, it is likely not a good idea to study on your bed, as it may lead to laziness and excessive comfort so find a place on campus that is right for you with the least amount of distractions. Also, if you’re not a morning person, 8:00 A.M. classes are probably not for you; you have the freedom to choose your own schedule, so it is best to choose wisely.
- College ≠ high school. Many students make the mistake of thinking they can get by like they did throughout former schooling. Good grades may have come naturally for you in high school, but you will have to earn them in college. If you slack off your first semester, your GPA will surely take a hit and that is not something that is easy to recover. Don’t forget the advice Dean Calovini pointed out during orientation: “Attending every class is important.” It may seem like a good idea to sleep through a morning class, but missing out on important exam points and attendance credit isn’t worth a few extra winks of sleep.
- On procrastination: Organization is key. Professors often make their assignment deadlines known at the beginning of the semester and expect you to be prepared. The most helpful means of preparation are planners, a visible calendar in your dorm room, several alarms, or an app on your phone—whatever it takes for you to manage your time and prioritize activities, all while adhering to deadlines without having excessive caffeine or unpleasant all-nighters.
- Use available resources. Don’t be afraid or shy away from asking for help if you have questions. Resident Assistants and professors are always willing to be there for you. If you are having difficulties with a subject, tutors and the writing center are available to you free of charge. If you need additional help with research, the library has research guides willing to assist you as well. In your college years, networking is just as important as sitting in a classroom; after all, what you learn will be eventually applied outside the classroom. If you need extra help pursuing jobs or internships, the Career and Professional Development office hosts several events throughout the year and are always willing to help to prepare you to find the one that is your right fit.
- Explore Winston-Salem. Discover the city and school’s rich history and traditions, and definitely take advantage of what this city has to offer. If you are interested in music, arts, volunteering or trying new foods, there are events almost every weekend so you will always have something to do. If you are from the city, branch out and try something new—there is something here for everyone. (Stay tuned for free or low-cost local events updated weekly at thesalemite.wordpress.com).
- Keep an open mind. You may be wondering why there are individuals around campus who sport seventeenth-century fashion on the daily or why some juniors admitted their summer-long admiration for you before asking you on big/little dates. For many people, first year can be a shocking experience as students from different walks of life cohabitate in this institution; don’t exclude them just because their viewpoints are not the same as yours. Discomfort leads to learning when combined with an open mind. College should be a learning experience and making new, diverse friends can help you grow as individuals. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be yourself.
- Call your mom. As cliché as it may sound, it is vital to remember your roots. Whether you like it or not, your hometown is the place where you’ve made the most memories. It’s helped to shape you into the person you are today. Keep in touch with your friends from home and contact your family on occasion too. They may be able to empathize with certain things you can reach out for during your transition (as a support group), and will certainly appreciate acknowledgment from you in your rapidly demanding college life. In the case you need to talk to professionals, counselors are also available to you at no cost through Health and Counseling Services located in Clewell basement.
- Get involved. Salem offers many different sports, clubs and organizations in which you can meet new people and develop lasting relationships. All extracurriculars are listed in the handbook and if you don’t find one that adheres to your interests, you can always start your own. Another way of finding other students who share similar interests is by joining campus Facebook groups, in which you can also find out about different on and off campus events as well as buy or sell items you might need throughout the year.
- Find a balance. College includes a social life and an academic component, but in order to succeed, it is best to avoid tipping the balance too far in either direction. First year for most people means more freedom but also just as much an increase in responsibility. Make sure you make the most out of your college experience, and remember that you are not alone in this journey.