What We Wish We Had Known: Advice From Seniors to Fellow Students
Years ago, when I first started college right out of high school, I was clueless. I had no idea where to start or what resources were available to help me on my journey. I felt like I was on my own. I hadn’t even heard of academic advising! I ended up taking 18 credits and working full time with a jumbled class schedule spread out throughout the day. I really struggled to find a rhythm in my classes, and a balance between school, work, and social life. There are so many things I wish I had known. Looking back, I could’ve eased so much of that stress AND enjoyed my first college experience so much more, had I been more prepared.
After a couple of semesters, I decided to take a break from school and travel abroad. When I returned, I transferred to Weber State. Now, I am nearing graduation and hoping to share some things that I, and other seniors, have learned during our time. We hope these insights and ideas make your life easier and relieve some of the stress and anxiety you may be experiencing. We want you to know that there is a great support system here at Weber State. You never need to feel alone or clueless, as I did starting out.
With the help of members of the Weber State faculty and staff, I organized a campus resource survey for current Weber State seniors. While the bulk of the survey was about campus resources available for students, we thought it’d be interesting to add one question asking seniors what advice they have for new freshmen. We received words of advice from 112 seniors. As you will see, this advice is applicable to all students. Under each headline, you can read direct quotes from some of the seniors who participated in the survey. They are organized according to different elements of wellness.
- “Do your homework, then play”
- “Hold yourself accountable without blaming others”
- “Manage your time wisely!”
- “Use all help and ask questions always”
As students, we are all here to learn. Regardless of how many other responsibilities we might have, being successful in school is often among our top priorities. However, getting homework done first doesn’t mean you should become a recluse. This is where good time management comes into play.
When you manage your time you are better able to find a balance between school, work, family, and friends. In other words, you allot time to study, time to play, and time to relax.
- “Get to know your advisor, talk to them frequently.”
- “Meet with an academic advisor before every semester to check in and plan classes for the semester. It is super helpful!”
- “Meet with advisors frequently to avoid taking unnecessary classes and not waste time and make sure you are in the right classes at the right time.”
- “Get a handle on which classes you know you need to take and don't take unnecessary courses that don't specifically achieve a goal you have.”
Academic Advising was the most used resource by seniors, and seniors suggested their fellow students use academic advising more frequently.
Sitting down with your academic advisor before each semester prepares you for future semesters, keeps you on track, and saves time and energy. Meeting with them frequently also builds that relationship. The better they know you, the more they can help you. Once when I met with an Academic Advisor, she asked what my interests were and why I had chosen that degree. The more we discussed it, the more I realized it wasn’t as good a fit as I thought it was. When you do find the degree and corresponding career that does fit, some advisors can even help you get into a more competitive program at Weber State or even graduate school. Even receiving their overall general advice is invaluable! If you’re struggling, ask them what resources might help.
- “Take advantage of your teachers! They are willing to help and are the best tutors to have.”
- “Become friends with your professors, they are awesome people.”
Another suggestion is to get to know your professors. Professors can help in a variety of ways throughout your college years. They can guide you through coursework, give advice, write letters of recommendation, and present opportunities that would otherwise not be open to you.
A few semesters ago, one of my professors offered to mentor any student in the class. I went ahead and contacted him and took him up on the offer. It was very helpful! He gave me extra feedback on assignments and challenged me to complete tasks outside of required coursework (like interviewing people with careers I was interested in or reading various books for my field). While these “assignments” had nothing to do with class, they really helped me to have a better direction and prepare for life after college. For several months, he would give me a challenge and I would report back ready for the next challenge.
Weber State professors truly want to help and will bend over backward to help in any way they can if students communicate their needs. Some of them even went to school here and have Wildcat pride. They care deeply about your success. They remember being in your shoes and will happily mentor you. Just ask!
- “Become involved! Weber has more to offer than you know. Don’t let it pass without getting everything you can from the experience.”
- “Get involved, make friends, look for volunteering opportunities.”
- “Step out of your comfort zone…this will help you to have a good experience and become familiar with resources needed to finish your degree and move forward in life.”
- “Reinvent Yourself.”
Seniors surveyed also stressed the importance of getting involved. Many shared how they gained valuable friendships and loved being involved in causes important to them. Try exploring various clubs and organizations through Weber State and find something that sparks your interest. Don’t be afraid to try new things. It might take some effort, but it will be well worth it.
- “Make sure you know why you’re going to school.”
- “Don’t give up.”
- “Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not doing as well as you think you should. College is supposed to be difficult and you’re already way ahead by being here in the first place.”
- “I would suggest that a regular sleep pattern is the best thing you can do for your success in college.”
It is crucial to know your limits. Taking on too much leads to exhaustion and burnout, which makes it difficult to function. Don’t expect perfection o have unrealistic expectations. Focus on small improvements here and there. Keep doing your best, whatever that looks like for you. Be careful not to compare yourself with others. When things don’t go according to plan, don’t be overly critical but instead practice self-compassion. When staying motivated becomes difficult, remind yourself why you’re going to school. Don’t give up on yourself or your goals.
Maintaining good sleeping habits benefits us both emotionally and physically. We need regular sleep in order to recharge, process information, and remain healthy. When we lack quality sleep, our capacity to function decreases, which then impacts other areas of our lives. Making a schedule is not only for getting assignments and exams completed but can also be used to track sleep routines. Going to sleep around the same time every night and avoiding bright screens before bed can help improve sleep quality.
- “Fill out the scholarship forms. There is a good chance that there is a scholarship out there that you qualify for.”
- “Fill out FAFSA.”
Seniors urged fellow students to submit their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You should apply for all scholarships that you qualify for, even if you think there’s little hope of being awarded anything. There's a good chance you will receive aid. Weber State offers millions of dollars worth of financial aid each year. There are scholarships you can apply for through Weber State in general as well as through various colleges and departments. Be sure to check when deadlines to apply are and plan accordingly. When student loans are necessary, only accept the amount that you actually need. Don’t take on unnecessary debt. For more assistance, check out the Financial Aid Office and the Money Management Center. You can also see Kat’s interview with the Money Management Center.
Be Aware of and Use Resources Available to You
- “Find out what is available and how it will help you, then use resources freely. You are not alone and have a fantastic Wildcat community wanting you to succeed.”
- “Use as many resources as you can. It makes a difference for the better.”
- “There’s something for everyone.”
There is a whole football field full of faculty and staff who are there for you and cheering you on. Consider that. Close your eyes and create that image. Weber State is full of terrific people who genuinely want to know you and help you. You don’t find that at every university. Weber State is truly extra cool.
A large percentage of seniors encouraged students to become familiar with the resources available and to take advantage of as many as you can, as often as you can. Using as many resources as you can enhance your college experience, allow you for optimal personal growth and present further opportunities for your future. There are dozens of resources to help you with your personal wellness, educational goals, and future career goals.
If you are not already familiar with resources on campus, take a look online (for starters, browse the Student Life Website). You could even explore campus in person, for example, the Student Services building (Ogden Campus) or the Stewart Center (Davis Campus), to see what’s available. Many resources are available for both in-person and virtual appointments. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Get the help you need.
Additional Tips for Success From Seniors
Check your weber email daily
Don’t ignore the newsletters you get in your Weber mail. There is a lot of information in these emails about resources that can be helpful, and ways to get involved.
There’s nothing wrong with trying a resource just once to see what you think.
When you do use resources on campus, ask if there’s a way to give any feedback. After all, these programs are to benefit you! Let them know how they can be improved.
Making the Most of Your College Experience
- “College is more than just signing up for classes. It’s about reaching your goals and reaching them while maintaining your wellness and sanity.”
- “Do and see as much as you can while you still can. Get good grades but remember that academics aren’t always the most important thing. Take care of yourself and your people and let the individual tasks work themselves out. It goes by faster than you think.”
It can be a challenge to balance school and other responsibilities. Many students at Weber State have several added responsibilities in addition to academics, which can make school even more overwhelming. It is for this reason that Weber State has so many fantastic resources specifically for YOU!! Get involved, find a good balance, develop meaningful relationships and take care of your emotional and physical health. These will all work together to help you achieve your goals and get the most out of your college experience. I know each of these aspects have helped me.
Whether you are going through mental illness, working through a traumatic experience, struggling to know what career path to take, confused about how to manage time, or how to study effectively - there are resources and people to help you out. If you are burdened with finances, unsure about what classes to take, or any other challenge - there is a resource to help. If you are not sure which resource could be helpful to you, don’t hesitate to ask. You can get to know a professor or talk with your academic advisor- they can help refer you to services to benefit you. You can also ask other staff members around campus for help while navigating what is available. Remind yourself of that stadium full of Wildcats. They are ready to support you and will cheer you on along the way.
What have you learned along your journey? What advice would you share with fellow students? Let us know what you have found to be helpful. Likewise, if you would like help implementing any of this advice, or simply need some support or encouragement, we’re here for you! You can reach us through email at: email@example.com or schedule a session!
We look forward to hearing from you soon!
About The Author
Rachel is a senior pursuing her degree in communication here at Weber State University.
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