Coming out of your Shell: Advice for New Penguins

Many hectic, awkward experiences make up a typical first week on campus. Parking is frustrating, the grounds are crowded with lost-looking faces and a student is 30 minutes late to his first class because he went to the wrong building.

His professor looks at him with a small, understanding smile, and asks him to stay a few minutes after to discuss what he missed. The student can breathe easy for the first time in what seems like weeks as he takes a seat in the front row.

Students look to classmates, professors and friends for advice about their first college experience.

“I just wandered around,” said Catharine Keane, career center manager at Clark College, reflecting on her freshman experience at the University of Vermont. “I didn’t understand anything, I just felt lost.”

Keane says that these feelings are pretty typical among freshman, but it’s easy to get into the routine of campus.

Bob Williamson, vice president of Administrative Services, says students shouldn’t stress about the first weeks. They’re “always a little chaotic, but things calm down.” He advises students to come early to find parking in the less crowded Yellow, Purple and Silver lots, and to “use the extra time to study, go to the Tutoring Center, or grab a cup of coffee.”

Keane, reflecting on her education, said she wishes she had thought about what’s after college earlier on. That is her “biggest piece of advice” to freshman.

Students can go to advising for suggestions on how to succeed and what to do after college. Keane says that Career Services is a great place to start establishing success. The center can help a student prepare a resume, a tool she said is never too early to start. It also can help with choosing majors and finding internships and jobs.

Director of Advising Kelsey DuPere recommended that first-time Clark students “take advantage of all the support you have.” She said that Clark “wants you to be successful. Whether you work on campus or participate in Student Life activities, be part of your college.”

DuPere is not the only one to recommend getting involved in the college community. Keane also recommended that students get involved and talk to their instructors. For one, Keane urged students to attend Welcome Week activities and Student Success workshops.

Tim Cook, vice president of Instruction, said that “academic success is directly correlated with having meaningful interactions with faculty.” He recommends students make an effort to meet with professors and introduce themselves.

In addition to communication, it is important to keep your degree in mind during your time at Clark. The Advising director recommended students plan for long-term goals. It makes a huge difference to keep in mind what your hard work will add up to, she said.

ASCC Student Relations & Promotions Coordinator Ian Williams said Welcome Week activities include free food, drinks, games and services to help freshman adjust to college life.


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