You say “Goodbye” and I say “Hello. Hello, hello.” ~ Hello, Goodbye,
by the Beatles
You’ve already visited your campus, taken the tours, met with some key people, attended orientation sessions, received your welcome packet, activated whatever needs to be activated – or are in the process of doing so – discussed and negotiated various subjects with your parents, met your new roommate and your RA, and so on. If you haven’t completed all of the aforementioned, let’s start with your parents:
- Discuss Access To Your Academic and Health Records: As you enter college as a legal adult, the right to access your academic and health records that your parents have had to date now terminates. For your parents to continue their access to your records your signed approval is required for each. This is obviously an important discussion to have with your parents. If you’ll be granting them access, you must put your permission in writing. Visit your college health center for information on HIPAA authorization and your registrar’s office for guidance on FERPA permission. Seek further information on the laws governing both so that you are fully informed.
- Say “Thank You”: Your parents have contributed their time, energy, funding, practical and emotional support and who knows what else to the cause of your upbringing and college education. As they drop you off on campus, tell them how grateful you are and try not to be too obvious about shooing them on their way. Introduce them to others when appropriate.
- Set a Schedule: Agree on a timeframe for campus and home visits and phone calls. Conversely, try not to text them every hour with requests to do things for you. This is a time to separate from your parents; do so with sensitivity and balance. They’re still part of your life, but you’re on the path to establishing your independence.
Now that you’ve said goodbye to your folks (for now), focusing on the following points will help your hello to college life be pleasant and productive:
- Become Acquainted With Your RA: Your resident assistant sets the tone for your resident community, and will be an important person in your life. She’ll help to solve problems, provide information, settle disputes and organize events. Get to know her on day one and establish a relationship. You might even decide to become an RA at some point, and having someone experienced and connected in your corner can be helpful.
- Read Everything In Your Orientation Packet: Your first few weeks on campus will be packed. You’ll be crisscrossing campus, making wrong turns, talking to the wrong people and perhaps showing up at the wrong lecture hall. Stuff happens. To mitigate mistakes and angst, take the time to go through your OP thoroughly.
- Show Respect for Faculty, Staff, Security and All Campus Personnel: Address your professors as “Professor” rather than using first names unless you are invited to do so. Honor classroom and lecture hall rules, and skip the talking, texting, gum and knuckle cracking, cutting, arriving late and eating while the session is in progress. Respect the staff, as well, whether it’s the registrar’s office, health center, academic advising or career center; honor closed doors and don’t barge into offices, call people by their first names and make demands. Know how to communicate properly via email, and refrain from texting members of the faculty and staff unless you’re invited to do so. Be polite to everyone. Start building your brand as a serious, intelligent student, who also has a light side, great sense of humor and loads of charm! Your professional behavior will pay off by earning you a top-notch reputation and good relationships campus-wide.
- Get Involved on Campus: Once you have everything under control, start meeting people and building relationships with fellow students, faculty and staff members. Find out about clubs, associations or athletic teams you might wish to join. Attend campus events, and explore community service and campus job opportunities. If you have trouble getting started, don’t be discouraged. It sometimes takes awhile, but keep trying. Just be sure to balance any such activities against your workload, which is your first priority.
- Visit the Career Center: It’s never too soon to visit your college’s career center and introduce yourself to the staff. It’s a smart move to start early with this office, as career planning can start in freshman year with major selection and exploring interests, and you may want or need to search for an internship before junior year. You’ll also want to explore all the services your center offers so you know where to go to receive career counseling, interview prep and assistance with any career-related issues. In addition, many career centers offer valuable and enjoyable events and workshops that provide enrichment training and job-related networking opportunities.
- Maintain a Healthy, Balanced Diet, and Get Enough Sleep: It’s important to watch what you eat – avoid the dreaded “freshman 15” — and get enough exercise and sleep. Doing so will go a long way in providing the energy and sharp mind to keep you sailing along.
- Pass on the Alcohol: First, you’re likely below the legal age in your state and, second, you have enough to cope with without addling your brain and body with booze and putting yourself in compromising positions.
- Seek Help When You Need It: Freshman year can be stressful on many levels. By your sophomore year, you’ll be an old hand at college life and new students will be asking you for help and directions. But now everything is new and unfamiliar. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance and advice with academic, health – including mental health– financial or social issues. There are many valuable services available to you on campus that are included in your tuition. This may be the only time you will not have to pay extra for these services, so take advantage of them! Check that OP again, go to your college’s website or ask your RA.
You’ve made it this far, so stay aware, focused and positive and you’ll be off to a great start!
Until next time,