Transitioning into your first year of college can be a challenging process. From leaving the comforts of home to adjusting to the workload of college courses, there are a lot of changes that you are facing. Keeping all of this in mind, we spoke with several people on the DBU campus to get their recommendations on how to have a successful first year on your college campus.
1. Go to class
Remember, your primary reason for being at college is to earn your degree. Patty Whiteley, director of academic advising, shares, “the majority of F's are earned from excessive absences. You should go to class even when you have stayed up half the night, when you have a headache, when you feel exhausted, when it is raining outside, when it is cold, etc.”
She also adds, “You should never miss the class just before an exam, because that’s when the instructor gives helpful information on what will be on the test. When the day comes that you are really sick or have an emergency, you can be absent without putting yourself at risk for failure.”
2. Get involved
One of the greatest things about college is the opportunity to explore your options through activities, organizations, and ministries. There are a wide variety of activities on campus for you to try out and join. Lindsay Rose, director of student engagement, recommends, “Find an organization to be a part of! Attend campus life activities to meet students. Find something that interests you, and join with other students who have similar interests and passions. You will not enjoy your college experience fully if you do not get yourself involved in campus life!”
3. Invest in those around you
One of the DBU resident directors, Deanna Rollette, expresses, “As Christ did not come to be served but to serve, believers have been given the same mandate to the world around them. Residence halls are a unique opportunity to encourage and invest in the lives of others in the hall and building. By getting to know your hall-mates and suitemates, community is developed and lives are changed for the better. Investing and connecting will improve your time in college and the residence halls.”
4. Embrace spiritual growth
College is the season of life where you have more free time than you will ever have in nearly any other stage of life. Chris Holloway, director of global missions, shares, “For the most part, college students are single, work part time, and are free from major financial burdens. Take this time to grow in the Lord because once marriage, full-time work, and families start to come into the picture, you have to fight so much more for growth than you did in your college days.”
5. Talk to your professors
Your professors are there to teach you, but they also want to get to know you. “You should introduce yourself early in the semester so they will know you,” Patty urges. “This opens the way for you to get the extra help and attention that you may need later in the semester. Also, it lets the professor know that you care about doing well in his/her class. If your grade is on the bubble at the end of the semester, the professor could be more willing to work with you if he knows you and you expressed to him your desire to succeed.” Also, remember how hard the professors work for you. If you really enjoyed your class, at the end of the semester make a point to be sure and thank them and say how you appreciate their time. Your kinds words will go a long way.
6. Get to know your RA
If you are living on campus, by now you should be familiar with the resident assistant (RA) on your hall. “Your RA is a valuable person to get to know,” Lindsay expresses. “They have been selected as RAs because they are strong leaders on campus and will help get you plugged in. They want to invest in your life so...let them!”
7. Connect with your community
You are now part of a new community on campus. Get to know the people around you! “There is an incredible importance to connecting to those around you in an effort to establish community,” Deanna shares. “Community is not only a goal of the residence halls, but it is often a natural outcome of 30 to 40 men or women sharing a space.”
Also, Deanna notes that community is important as a believer. “The body of Christ must be connected in community to support and encourage each other as we are the hands and feet of Jesus to those around us,” she explains.
8. Accountability and mentorships are key
Friendships are a vital part of college life. Not only should you seek to make friends with peers, but it would be good to also seek out relationships with a few upperclassmen who have already gone through the struggles of college transitions and can provide insight and encouragement.
“One sure way to succeed in college is to have guys and girls around you who know you authentically and want to invest in you,” Chris advises. “There is no understating the value of a person who walks life with you spiritually, physically, emotionally, and in various areas of your life. In addition to this, surround yourself with someone older who would be willing to pour into your life. The wisdom that can be gained and the heartache that can be prevented is worth its weight in gold.”