Returning students provide tips to first-years

Students+returned+to+campus+last+weekend+and+classes+resume+Wednesday.+

Photo by Katerina Pourliakas

Students returned to campus last weekend and classes resume Wednesday.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students will be experiencing a very different academic lifestyle. Bearing in mind these changes, as well as the general first year college experience, returning students offer advice to incoming first-years.

Be safe

“Be safe and don’t try to rush into your college experience, especially now,” Simran Armstrong, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said “It’s gonna be a really weird semester for everyone but the more we comply with mask-wearing and social distancing, the better it is going to be for us next semester.”

Armstrong said some students may be disappointed about not getting a true college experience due to COVID-19. But Armstrong advises incoming students to take some time and ease into their college experience a little bit first.

Be yourself 

This may seem like a cliche, but Armstrong said it was one of the most important pieces of advice she ever received.

“It’s a fresh start, but it’s a good chance to just be whole-heartedly, fully yourself, which is advice that I took and I think it paid off,” Armstrong said.

Take advantage of office hours

Whether in-person or virtual, Armstrong said professors’ office hours can greatly improve your learning experience.

“I did not really go to office hours for half of first semester,” Armstrong said. “Once I started going, my grades and even just my confidence in the classes skyrocketed. It also helped me develop super close bonds with my professors.”

Join clubs

Even though many clubs may not be operating as usual, it is important to get involved. Armstrong said reaching out to different organizations and “just knowing what’s going on around campus can expose you to so many different types of people.”

There are nearly 300 student organizations to get involved in, ranging from sororities and fraternities to Marquette University Student Government and even the Live Poets Society.

Kaitlyn Hill, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she would advise all students to “attend O-fest in whatever capacity the university can offer it this semester.”  

O-fest, or organization fest, which is typically held in the beginning of the school year, is an opportunity to see all the different clubs, organizations and volunteer opportunities that Marquette has to offer.

“O-fest gives you a chance to learn about a club or organization on campus you may have never heard about before,” Hill said in an email.

Join the Milwaukee community

In addition to getting involved on campus, Hill advises incoming students to become active members in the city of Milwaukee as well.

“O-Fest also showcases some really cool opportunities to get off of Marquette’s campus and engage with the wider Milwaukee community, which is another thing I think every Marquette student should do at least once during their four years on campus,” Hill said.

Community events in Milwaukee are not limited to those sponsored at O-Fest. A more comprehensive list of events students can get involved in can be found at the VISIT Milwaukee website.

Ask for directions

“I was late for classes and meetings more times than I care to admit during my first year,” Hill said in an email. “I was embarrassed to ask how to get to a new building or where to find a certain room in the library.”

Despite her own concerns about asking for help, however, she said there is nothing to be worried about.

“If you are lost, just ask for some help! We’ve all been there,” Hill said in an email.

Get to know your floor

Hill said her best piece of advice in lieu of the changes being made to Marquette is to “try your best to get to know the other people on your floor in your dorm.” 

Ja Vaughn Guadalupe, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, offered incoming students similar advice.

“Get to know the people on your floor because most of the organizations aren’t going to be meeting this first semester,” Guadalupe said.

Do not over-pack

Guadalupe encouraged new students to practice minimalism, saying that many of the things students think they need to bring are often unnecessary. 

“Don’t bring a lot of formal clothes because you won’t wear it, don’t buy a lot of food, we have dining halls open, don’t bring a ton of Tupperware or plates because you aren’t gonna use them,” Guadalupe said. 

Guadalupe also said he thinks things like TVs and PlayStations are not, and should not, be considered necessities. 

Separate work and pleasure

“You are going to be stuck in your room and your common room for a lot more time than you will other years,” said Guadalupe. “You are going to want to have a place where you are able to leave all of the stress of the day. Just try and separate your business from your pleasure activities.”

Guadalupe said incoming first year students should consider compartmentalizing their rooms so that certain spaces have specific purposes.

School may be back in business for the semester, but it will not be business as usual. As such, it may be useful for first-year students to take the advice of returning students and practice a few lifestyle changes in order to accommodate to the pandemic in a safe and productive way.

This story was written by Charlotte Ives. She can be reached at charlotte.ives@marquette.edu.