College Preparation & Planning

Visit the SBISD Website:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Make a LARGE College Feel Like Home

Students can create small communities at a large campus by joining student organizations and networking. 

Large universities can feel isolating, but there are plenty of opportunities for students to engage with students and staff.
By + More
Large universities typically offer an abundance of resources and opportunities, but transitioning into a new environment with tens of thousands of students can be overwhelming for college freshmen.
"Coming to an institution like the size of UCF can be very intimidating to anyone," says Belinda Boston, assistant vice president of student development and enrollment services at the University of Central Florida, an institution with over 50,000 students. 
Students who are social and comfortable engaging with people from a variety of backgrounds may fit more naturally into a large campus environment, but experts say that personality and background aren’t necessarily indicators of who can and will be successful at large schools.
"College is the great leveling field. Everyone is starting over so it’s an opportunity for a new beginning," she says. 
Students need to be resilient, vocal and willing to leave their comfort zones to succeed at a large university, says the student development specialist. Experts provide the following advice to help students find their niche at a large university and excel academically and socially.  
• Remember who you are: ​ Students may feel pressure to try to fit in at big schools​, but experts say that students will have better success if they retain their own identities.
"It’s so easy to lose your individuality because students want to blend in. What we say to students is that it's OK to stand out. It's OK to be yourself," Boston says.
College can be the start of a new beginning, but it’s important for students to remember that their experiences, passions and hobbies are still relevant. Experts encourage students to find ways to express those passions on campus and use them to build new relationships. Large universities have a multitude of school-sponsored​ clubs, so it’s likely that students will find something that matches their hobby or have the opportunity to create something new on campus, experts say.
With so much action happening on and around campus, the fear of missing out can be a problem for students who attend large universities, says Susan Cain, an author whose book "Quiet" focused on introverts and shyness.​ 
Cain encourages students to be introspective and take care of themselves physically and mentally. That can mean finding quiet places to recharge, studying alone instead of a big study hall, eating alone ​instead of in ​a packed dining hall and exercising and eating right.
"Once you honor what you need, you’ll find those quiet, ​restorative niches," Cain says.
• Engage with your peers:​  Developing relationships with peers is another way for students to create a sense of belonging at a large university. College officials encourage freshmen to take advantage of thediverse student body and extracurricular programs as opportunity to broaden their world view by connecting with students from different cultures and backgrounds. 
"Everybody wants to connect, everybody wants to feel accepted," says Marisel Herrera, director of the First-Year Success Center at Arizona State University. ​
She encourages students to ask questions and have conversations with each other, but without making assumptions or passing judgment. ​
Experts also encourage students to make connections with older students because they can help freshmen navigate everything from studying to socializing.
​"Find someone who has already walked the path that you want to go," UCF’s Boston says.
"Sometimes our first-year students forget to reach out to older students to use them as mentors," she says.
• Learn how to network: Getting a degree and making the appropriate connections for careers should be a priority, experts say. At large universities, where some core​ classes can have around 300 students, standing out is important.

ASU's Herrera encourages students to sit within the first three rows of the classroom to limit distractions, ask questions and ​introduce themselves to their instructors.
"Faculty are massive resources to students beyond their content that they teach. They’re phenomenal​ for mentoring students. They’re phenomenal for writing letters of recommendation in the future, which is really important to start building as a freshmen," she says. ​ ​
Professors aren’t the only ones who can help students succeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment