I remember being bombarded with information coming in as a first year student. Even though there was a lot of new information and I felt like a deer in the headlights, every piece served as great reassurance that I could handle the next big step into the realm of post-secondary education.
Based on my first year experience, I’ve compiled my top suggestions to help you make the most of your first year.
Residence Hall Living
Make your living space your own.
I’ve seen some really cool set-ups and decorations throughout my time here, so don’t be afraid to bring your cool posters and lights. Most of the dorms allow you to move some or even all of the furniture, so make your dorm however you feel most comfortable – just be sure to follow any guidelines.
You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, but still get along or at least try to.
Some people get lucky and become best friends with their roommate and, on the extreme end, others make little contact with them because of their different interests. Either way, right off the bat, try to find common ground and try to get to know them.
Befriend your RA – they are there to help you.
Your Resident Advisor is there to provide you with any support you need! Having trouble with a class? Chat with them. Not sure how to contact a professor? Chat with them. They want to help you succeed! On the other hand, your RA will set rules that are meant to be followed for your safety and the safety of others. If you break rules, that’s one way to get on the bad side of your RA and that’s not a place you want to be.
Take advantage of the study groups in your hall by getting to know your ARC (Academic Resource Counselor).
Every residence hall has a student staff member who is there to help you with your academic needs including study techniques, ways to help you stay on top of class work, etc. Don’t know who they are? Ask your RA!
There are over 150 groups on campus, so try something out and figure out what you enjoy.
From Greek life to graphic design to religious interests to ultimate Frisbee, you have a lot to choose from. Browse the categories and then go find them at Backyard Bash, Sept. 6 from 5-7 pm.
If your specific hobby isn’t an organization yet, you have the freedom to make one!
Does this sound like something you might do? Check out the Involvement Center’s website to find out how to start an organization and feel free to email with any questions- the staff in the Involvement Center are great!
My advice is this: pick one organization (or two) to join.
Your first year is going to be filled with meeting new people. Chances are, a good chunk of the friends you’ll make will be from within an organization, so don’t miss out on those friendships and put yourself out there.
There are tons of great jobs on campus.
You can find job postings through the Career Services website or Campus Life Today (an email that goes out to all students daily). I’ve found that being employed helps me manage my time better and helps me stay on top of class work.
Find a job if you have time and don’t overwhelm yourself.
There are opportunities out there that allow you to pick how many hours per week you want to work, so even if you can only have five to 10 hours, there are still plenty of places that can adjust to your limits. However, if you just want to take the first year to get classes under your belt, that’s completely fine too.
The professors at UW-Stout do an excellent job to ensure you’re getting what you need, whether that be by making themselves available during office hours, providing study groups for the class, answering emails and phone calls, or sharing advice on how get the most from your education.
I was worried about the rigor of college classes and the advice I received from other UW-Stout students was this: go to class and you’ll be fine.
The first step is going to class. Without mom and dad waking you up to ensure you’ve made it to school, you have the freedom to sleep in, but do not be tempted by this freedom. Going to class helps you understand the material more and some, if not most professors, only give certain information in class and don’t post it online. They expect you to be there to get the information, so chances are they won’t be too pleased if you skip and ask for the assignments.
Talk to and get to know some classmates around you.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Start things up with some small talk with people you end up sitting next to in class. These people might become your support system throughout the semester. You can form study groups, ask for help or clarification on assignments, or if you have to miss class for a valid reason, they can give you the information you missed.
Pay attention to the syllabus.
This will be your saving grace. The syllabus has everything you need to know about the class, including contact information for your professor and their office hours, attendance policy, homework and test schedule, and grading scale. Most of the time, when students email their professors with questions about an assignment, the reply will be “It’s in the syllabus,” so check there first!
Make an initiative to stay healthy.
So this means basic things like trying to get enough sleep, wearing proper clothing for the weather and eating a healthy meal.
Staying healthy will get tricky once someone on your floor or in your room gets a bug.
If you do end up getting sick, they have health services located right on campus. You can find their website here.
Make time for fun to reduce stress.
There are plenty of free on-campus activities to go to when you need a break from class and stress. For example, Blue Devil Productions hosts a concert every Thursday with a different genre; films every other Friday that are right out of theaters; comedy shows from talent featured on America’s Got Talent or Saturday Night Live, and open mic nights that you can sign up to perform in!
Also, be sure to follow UW-Stout’s social media pages and watch our Take2 at UW-Stout Weekly News Video series. It’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Good luck, Stouties! You’ll do great. #StoutProud