Monthly Archives: September 2015

Are you getting involved?

As I noted a couple of blogs back, I’m a faculty freshman! I’ve been a faculty before but I am brand new to my current institution and situation. Sorta like many students out there — you’ve been students before, but maybe your institution and situation is new. The newness might be wearing off a bit — you have settled into a routine (of sorts) and the slumpy-ness might be creeping in; I am feeling it, too! One remedy for the slumps is: ENGAGEMENT and INVOLVEMENT.

Here is what happens to me: I get email invites to attend a conference, or a workshop, or a roundtable, or even a picnic! I might get invited to have a cup of coffee or lunch with a colleague. When these events come to me, I think “Oh! I’m so busy. I have a paper to write, a book or article to read, and I need to run to the supermarket for groceries. I just don’t have time!” But, after I think those thoughts, I remind myself: I’m new here; I still (S.T.I.L.L!) don’t recognize many of my co-workers faces or know their names. I NEED to get involved, get connected, make friends, and stay in the loop. YOU need to do this, too.

Getting connected is a key predictor of future student success. The way to become connected is to begin to get involved with your campus and your new institution. Your involvements do not have to be academic; they could be sport-related, club-activity related (how many clubs does your campus have?!), or organization related. It is important for your sense of belonging and attachment to your new place. It is important to stretch your mind beyond the classroom and interact with people in various environments. Campus activities of all sorts are a great place to become meet new people, make connections, and learn new things.

You do not have to join every club or organization — I do NOT say “yes” to every event or invitation. We all need to think about our priorities — school work should be one of your top priorities; but getting involved and connected needs to be up at the top, too. You will see, over time, that they can complement one another. And, you will probably have fun, too!

See you at the next workshop or foozball tournament!

PS: If you already feel you are connected and involved and still feel slumpy, go check out your campus counseling services. They are a great resource and typically included in student fees (thus you have pre-paid and they are just waiting to help.)

Settling In

How is your settling in progressing? Are you still getting lost — I found the BEST map of my new campus at the Disability Resource Center counter, which happens to be on the first floor of my office building. You know how I found it? I asked the person behind the counter where a building was and she said, “Here, take this map. Then you can find any of the buildings you need.” You might think, “wow, why couldn’t she just give you directions?!” And, I admit, I might have thought that for a split second — but then I opened the map and it was BEAUTIFUL — glossy, vivid colors, a print that was large enough to read without holding it next to my nose. What a gift! Lesson of this interaction: Ask for help when you need it!

Have you found the various places on campus that have the resources you need to be a healthy person? This is critical. A new environment (even in the same old city/town) will have different access and locations for those resources. Think about the following list:
1. Health clinic (including pharmacy)
2. Gym/workout facilities
3. ATM/bank
4. Dentist
5. Counseling

Obviously, your campus has many resources that are specific to your classes. I want you to be sure to consider other resources that you should have at the tips of your fingers in your new place.

Locate the campus health clinic. If your campus does not have one, find out what clinic students go to when they aren’t feeling well. You do NOT want to wait until you are ill. On my (new to me) campus, I found out that even faculty can go to the health center if they are ill at work (!); and, my new institution provides free flu shots for everyone! (This is seriously something to take advantage of — early on. You do not want to be sitting next to sneezing/sniffling folks without SOME protection.) At my old institution, the health clinic offered a free eye/vision exam every year to students. A resource that many students weren’t aware of and therefore didn’t take advantage of. Find out what your fees are ALREADY paying for and then be sure to take advantage of each of these opportunities! Also make sure to know where to go for dental services — some campuses may offer them, others may not. Find a nearby dentist in case you have a dental emergency; ask your institution if your student health insurance will work for dental emergencies or preventative care. Know what your options are!

Most campuses have gym privileges for students. Find out where your fitness center is; or, what kind of fitness courses are offered. Again, take advantage of these resources early and often. Exercising helps reduce stress, helps you concentrate better on your courses, and generally makes you feel better. Plus you can make new and different friends from those you sit next to in class. It will be fun!

Where is your nearest ATM/bank? Be sure you have access to money and resources when you need them. If the ATM near you isn’t part of your banking system, look online or call to find out what fees you may have to pay to use that ATM so you aren’t surprised later on.

Finally, ask at your health center (once you locate it!) what kind of counseling services are available to students. Most institutions offer psychological counseling services — they are typically included in your student fees; be sure to ask. And, then, even more importantly — take advantage of these services. The counselors are there to listen to your anxieties, your problems, or your joys. Give them a chance! They are typically impartial, objective, and good at listening. Be sure to give them a try.

As you settle in, don’t forget to settle in your physical and mental health — it is critical to be a “good student” — alert and well in the classroom, ready to study, make friends, and have fun!

I’m a freshman (faculty freshman!)

Heidi has graciously been writing awesome blogs with helpful hints and ideas for a most excellent start to fall. During that time, Cindi has been moving! I have moved from a mid-sized comprehensive regional university to a large public university (with over 55,000 students)! It is like being a new student all over again, except I’m faculty. Over the next few blogs, I will be sharing with you the things I am doing and thinking about as I learn all about my new university, how to figure out where things are, and how to do things. I hope it resonates with some of you who are also new students — new to the institution or new to being a college student.

I was required to attend a new faculty orientation (sound familiar?! Yes, they even make faculty do that!). I had to wear a name tag, sit at a group table, talk to strangers, and listen to various speeches tell me about my new home. To be honest: I was a bit resistant. But, I found the people at my group table were just like me! They had just recently moved from somewhere else; they didn’t know much about what was happening and they were friendly! More importantly, we all shared stories about getting lost on campus. Apparently, totally and completely normal! By the end of the day, I had figured out how to sign up for health care, who some of my new hallway buddies were going to be (I met other newly hired people in my department), and felt more relaxed and confident about my new institution.

Oh, and, the President gave a speech which was quite inspiring and encouraging. He shared his vision of the university with us; and, it was a vision that made sense and seemed exciting. He ended his talk by reminding us why we were all there: because students matter. This was an idea I could easily embrace.

The orientation reacquainted me with people I had met a year prior when I had come to the campus for a tour. The orientation made it so much easier for me to go to work the following week, walk into the Department office and easily connect with the folks there.

This is exactly why the institution has orientations (for new faculty, new students, and new staff) — even though they can be uncomfortable and somewhat annoying at the outset, there really is a reason to them: but, we must be open to that reasoning.

Think back to your orientation if it already happened — don’t worry about the loads of information they gave you — you can always look that up online, call someone, or find someone to ask. But, try to recall the feeling of togetherness and of belonging to something new — that is what orientation is about. Try to recall the feeling of connectedness that was present. Embrace that feeling. Throw yourself into a spirit of being connected. It’ll make the coming months much easier.

More on connectedness next time.