So, you are the first in your family to go to college, you are excited and anxious to tread down a path that has not been ventured before by people you know. It is new and difficult and you are possibly away from family for the first time and may be feeling homesick. Trust me, it is going to be okay. Let me repeat, you are going to be okay. Forget the notion that you are the only person feeling this way at this very moment- there are tons of other students going through the same thing. There are other students who are new to campus and come from a background similar to yours, and everyone has their own challenges in their college lives. I want to share some advice that I think would be helpful to new students whether they are first years or transfer students, as I myself was a transfer.
1. Get involved
I know that this may sound repetitive and everyone says it all the time, but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get involved. This is how you build a community, create friendships and make connections with others. It can also help fight your homesickness if this is your first time away from home.
Image Source: Unsplash
2. Look into study abroad programs
Applying for study abroad programs takes time and effort. Planning your trip can be stressful as there are multiple factors that have to be considered, such as length, finances, housing, and the classes you will take, to name a few. You also have to get signed off by an advisor to show that you are eligible to participate, and that your classes are good to go. There are helpful advisors at the UCD Study Abroad office who specialize in different programs and countries. Applications open early, and some may fill up quickly, so be sure to check it out sooner rather than later.
3. Look for an internship
It is never too early to look for an internship. Even if you don’t get one your first year, it is helpful to start applying. It can take time to find a match, so building your experience and applying for multiple opportunities can prove useful in the long run.
4. Use the resouces on campus
The resources on campus are here to help YOU, so do not feel intimidated to use them! Many places provide free services like printing, as well as giving out snacks, scantrons, and blue books during exam seasons. You will most likely find a community at one of the campus centers that will feel like a home away from home. You might meet helpful faculty or peers that you can connect with as well.
5. Reach out to faculty and advisors
Reaching out to faculty or advisors can be intimidating, especially for students who are shy or introverted. But trust me, they like it when you take initiative and reach out to them. It shows that you are interested and that you are willing to get out of your comfort zone. If you are shy, I would suggest emailing them first and deciding on a time to meet in person.
6. Look into reseach opportunities
There are many research opportunities, and if you are interested, keep in mind that not all faculty publicizes when they are conducting research. You may have to reach out to a professor who studies what you are interested in and ask if they have available opportunities. Most of the time, if you have taken classes with a professor, they will be more willing to have you be a research assistant with them.
7. Talk to peers from class
I know that most people don’t like to do this, but when it comes to exams or assignments this can be very helpful. You can create study groups, or simply shoot a text if you want to verify when something is due. You may feel more reassured knowing that you have someone in the class you can share questions with or talk to when you don’t understand something. And who knows, you might make a new friend or coffee buddy.
These are a couple things that I wish I would have implemented sooner in my own university experience. As a transfer student, it can be difficult due to time constraints and being unfamiliar with the campus. Hopefully these tips may help you in your own journey.