Tag Archives: first day of school

So You’re In Grad School: August

Here we are. The start of a new school year. This is when I should have started my SYIGS series, you know, so it started with the school year. Oh well. If you’re new to this, SYIGS provides some tips as well as gives information on what to expect in a Student Affairs-esque grad school program. Everything I write is based on MY experience at Grad School State…your program might be somewhat different, but it shouldn’t be TOO drastic.

If you’re a first year student…

You’re probably getting ready to leave for grad school if you haven’t already. I’ve said it time and time again – grad school is VERY different from undergrad. It’s an adjustment and it will take you some time to get used to it. That’s okay. Oh, and you’ll probably also learn a theory that will later explain your behavior during this time period.

My first few weeks at GSS were jam packed with training for my assistantship…why yes, I was in ResLife! Not only did I have training for my position, but I also sat through all of RA training so I could know the campus and the procedures better. It was a big help, especially since GSS and Undergrad U were VERY different institutions.

GSS held a graduate school orientation. The ResLife office made sure to have it on their schedule so us newbies wouldn’t be missing anything important. It wasn’t like the fun-filled orientation that I went through as a student and that I saw GSS freshmen going through. No campus tours, no entertainment, no ice breakers. I was so confused! I went to a resource fair, but instead of showcasing the different departments on campus, I was provided with bank and insurance options. At one point I was told I needed to pick up my student ID, but I didn’t know where to do that! It was at this moment that I realized graduate student services is an area that will probably be on the upswing in the next few years…

Another eye opener was that there were a lot of people in my program OLDER than me. Many of the students had graduated from college and worked “real” jobs before realizing they hated being mindless corporate robots whatever they were doing and making the decision to start a new career. So at the end of the day while I wanted to go to the bar and get to know my new classmates, they had homes and husbands to get home to. Who does that?

I guess all of my previous “points” have been stories about my experiences, my major tip for this month is DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. I can promise you that there will be somebody in your program or working at your assistantship who thinks they “know everything” and will roll their eyes at your question, but do not let that deter you! Training and orientation are the times to ask questions!

If this is your second year…

You might be a little bored right now. I’m sure there are training things that you are being forced to go to that you feel you don’t need to go to because obviously you learned it all before. Obviously. Yes, you might be bored, but please don’t let this attitude show! It might stop one of the new students from asking a question (see above).

I definitely recommend getting to know the new grad students in your program. Did you have a second year take you under their wing last year? Be that person for someone else! It is great to form a friendship like this now so you can help someone with this whole grad school process.

I had someone take me under their wing and then I took someone under my wing. I am in touch with both of these people. My “older” friend helped me as I was navigating the job search process. I just helped my “younger’ friend with hers and I also talked her through some tough decisions that she had to make during grad school.

No matter what year you are…

August is a crazy month for Student Affairs…students are returning, orientation is happening, training is happening, and of course there is a HUGE programming push during the first few weeks of school. Good luck to all of you out there!!

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How to Not Be THAT Freshman

Everybody eventually looks back on their first year of college and says to themselves, “was I really¬†that clueless/naive/dumb/etc ?!?!” I started asking myself that about halfway through freshman year. I’ve thought long and hard about what makes freshmen so…freshmen-y and have compiled a list of tips for you.

Look down.

Are you wearing a lanyard with your key/ID/meal card around it? Take it off. Right now. That’s how everybody knows you’re a freshman. At one institution where we used our IDs to enter our buildings, I carried mine in my back pocket. There were only a few instances of leaving it in yesterday’s pants. A lot of schools use some type of proximity sensor so you have to just wave something as you walk by. Figure out what works best for you, but seriously, take the lanyard off your neck. You don’t want to be THAT freshman wearing a lanyard.

Look to your left. Now to your right.

How many people are you walking around campus/your new city with? Is it more than four? Stop, stop right there. I know that they say “safety in numbers” but you’re going to the extreme. You know that awesome party you’re about to go to? Well, it just got busted because a neighbor saw twenty five freshmen walking up to the door. Walk in small groups so you stay safe but don’t anger the neighbors. Also, if you’re coming home from a party, it’s much easier to see if you’re missing a person out of a group of four than forty. You don’t want to be THAT freshman wandering campus in a herd.

Got Questions?

Contrary to what some professors and teachers say, there are dumb questions. There are certain people provided to you early in your freshman year to answer many of your dumb questions. These are your orientation leaders and RAs. But after a certain point, Google is your friend. Need to contact the Health Center? Search for “(your school’s name) Health Center”. Tada! In class, if you have a question that only relates to you (“Can I miss a quiz because my brother’s wedding is that weekend?”) ask the professor at the end of class or during office hours. You don’t want to be THAT freshman asking dumb questions in the last five minutes of class.

Know Your Limits

In college, you can have too much of a good thing. Just because your dining hall is all-you-can-eat doesn’t mean you need to eat it all. Put down the brownie. Grab a piece of fruit every so often. You don’t want to be THAT fat freshman. For alcohol, take it easy. Yes, you probably will have at least one night you regret, but you don’t want to be THAT freshman that throws up all over the communal bathroom during orientation. As for sex, wrap it before you tap it. No glove, no love. However you want to say it, USE PROTECTION. Susie Q might look at pure and innocent but you do not know what sort of Fifty Shades of Promiscuity she might be into. Likewise, Susie, make sure you’re on birth control. You don’t want to be THAT pregnant/STD-carrying freshman.

Don’t Panic

A lot of what I said probably just made college seem like the most terrifying (or most wonderful) place on earth. Everybody will be stressed out or nervous or scared at some point in their college career. You might go from being be THE valedictorian of your class into a freshman class where there are many other valedictorians. Congratulations, you are now average. You might get a bad grade. You might sleep through a class. You might be sitting here reading the above realizing you are THAT freshman. Stop. Take a deep breath. Don’t have a meltdown in the middle of the hallway. You will survive. You don’t want to be THAT crying freshman.

Congratulations, Class of 2016, for making it this far. Good luck with classes and don’t try too hard.

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