Making the most of your campus experience
To achieve success in your new environment, get involved in student activities and organizations, meet new people, and take full advantage of the services your new college has to offer.
Reach out to people
Your relationships with students, faculty and staff are critical to your adjustment to college life. Make a special effort to meet people on campus.
Participate in activities for transfer students.If your school has a transfer student office, check their website, visit their office, and read their email or Facebook announcements to see what they have planned for you. Attend all events that are specifically designed to help transfer students acclimate to campus.
This is a sure-fire way to meet fellow students and get involved in campus life. Residence halls are not just apartments; they are “living and learning communities” that provide social activities, educational programs, athletics, entertainment, and much more.
Befriend your resident assistant
If you live in a residence hall, get to know your resident assistant. RA’s enforce rules, provide assistance, and work to see that everything runs smoothly on their floor. They know their way around campus and may be able to provide useful information about courses, professors, and campus life. They’re also there for personal support when the going gets tough.
Participate in study groups
Check to see if your classes offer study groups. If not, make a classroom announcement that you’re organizing a study group for all interested classmates. Study groups are a great way to learn course material while meeting classmates.
Get an on-campus job
You may be eligible for work study, based on your family’s income. If you are not eligible, there are still likely to be many student employment positions available. Colleges typically have students working in libraries, recreation centers, bookstores, computer labs, and elsewhere on campus. Working on campus is a great way to meet people while earning some cash.
Participate in alumni programs
Visit your school’s alumni office and ask what they offer current students. They may have an Alumni-Student Mentoring Program that pairs incoming students with alumni. Alumni are a great source of support.
Become a campus guide or ambassador
Campus tours for prospective students and their family members are often led by current college students. The orientation requires that you become an expert on almost everything about your new school, and prospective employers and graduate schools love students with public speaking experience.
Talk to people in the know
Your college employs hundreds of people in an array of positions – not just professors, but administrators and staff members in dozens of offices. Never hesitate to seek out university personnel for guidance, support and assistance.
Participate in student organizations
Explore and get involved in any organization that looks interesting. The following section provides a list of the kinds of organizations available on most college campuses.
Student Activities and Organizations
The best way to meet people and feel like you belong in your new school is to participate in student organizations. This is especially true if you live off-campus. Whether your interest is Taekwondo, global warming, reggae music, or sign language, student organizations are a great way to get involved in activities that you enjoy and that are important to you. Future employers and graduate schools also look favorably upon students who actively participate in organizations.
See out the organizations on your campus. Here are some examples of the kinds of organizations often available. Community service, honor societies, international, political, professional, religions/spiritual, social, special interest, sports/recreation, student government… If you have a strong interest in a topic, activity, or cause for which there is no current club on campus, start your own. Visit the student government office and learn the policies and procedures for becoming a recognized student organization.
Every college offers dozens of valuable services. They are voluntary so it is up to you to contact or visit them.
Advisors are available to assist students with program planning, course selection, and degree requirements for graduation.
Career counselors provide assistance with selecting a major, planning for footer, and preparing for graduate school. They also help students obtain internships and part-time or full-time jobs.
Professionals are available to address any personal concern you may be facing. The information you share will be kept in strict confidence.
Colleges provide assistance, support, and services for students with learning or physical disabilities. IF you have or suspect you have a disability, visit them to inquire about their services.
Financial Aid/Financial Services
The Financial Aid office provides funds in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and sometimes on-campus jobs. Financial services (Bursar’s office) do the billing and collection of tuition, fees, campus housing payments, and other university charges.
Information technology help desk
They provide academic support programs, offer tutoring, and conduct workshops on study skills and test preparation. They can assist you with writing assignments, note taking, and textbook reading.
College libraries have it all- books, audio books, magazines, reference materials, journal articles, CDs, research material, on-line databases, and a place to study. Take advantage of your school’s reference librarians. They are experts at locating hard-to-find resources and materials.
Parent and Alumni Services
Many schools encourage students to network with alumni and/or the parents of current students. Alumni and parents can provide valuable advice and information regarding your major and career.
Recreation Center/Intramural Office
Be healthy, get in shape, have fun, and meet people. Join and intramural team, register for a yoga class, learn to line dance or waltz, go swimming or lift weights.
Registration and Records
They provide and maintain student records See them with questions concerns about requesting a transcript, changing your contact information, and/or transferring credit. They may also be able to help with course registration, graduation information, schedule changes, and auditing a course.
Religious Organizations or Campus Ministry
Most schools, whether secular or associated with a particular religion, provide religious and spiritual support, social activities, and opportunities to serve the community.
Many of the aforementioned offices and departments fall under the umbrella of Student Services or Student Affairs. If you have a concern or question and do not know who to ask or where to go, the Student Services office is a good place to start.
International or Global Education offices help arrange study abroad programs for a semester, school year, summer, or during brief “intercessions.” Gather information as soon as possible.
Content written by Alan Farber, Ph.D.