First-time college students embrace the adventure

CENTRAL — For first-time college students, heading to campus can be exciting and at the same time scary.

For most, it’s a big step out into the great unknown as they move out from under their family’s roof and away from the familiarity of hometown friends and old routines.

Will I make friends? Will I fit in? Can I bring my car? How much stuff can I bring?

As students prepare to move on campus, Katherine Hanson, Southern Wesleyan University’s residence life coordinator, notes that incoming freshmen will need to give some thought about which personal belongings to bring; they also need to prepare to meet lots of new people.

“Definitely don’t over pack,” said Hanson. She suggests that since space is limited for residential students that they stick to the necessities.

“Learning how to navigate relationships with peers, roommates, professors and staff will prepare you for life far beyond the college experience,” Hanson said, adding that some of life’s most important lessons will be learned from relationships formed in the residence hall, in classrooms and around campus.

To be realistic, adjusting to new surroundings and new people can be daunting at times. Conflicts with roommates and challenges with coursework happen, but instead of giving up Hanson suggests that new students seek out someone who can mentor them and in whom they can confide in and ask questions.

“The students who do best are the ones who communicate with professors, with resident assistants and directors, and with staff,” Hanson said. “This will help you begin to navigate challenges without speed dialing mom and dad at the first sign of struggle.”

Hanson added, “Definitely keep in touch with mom and dad, though. They like to know what’s going on.”

Becoming independent for the first time in their lives, many students find it challenging to manage their time and strike a balance between work and play. SWU student Jenna Griffin suggests using a planner.

“Study, work hard, study, work hard, study,” said Dwayne Bryant, a business student who recently graduated.

Through, social media and blogs, new students find a point of connection that’s available 24/7. Southern Wesleyan’s Admissions Office launched “SWU Warrior Spill,” where students offer advice on live video via Facebook (the videos can also be played back later). According to Jared Trudel, customer relationship management (CRM) coordinator, initial success with the videos have been encouraging.

“We’re getting 1,200 to 1,500 reach per week and 500-600 views each week,” said Trudel. Several students blog about their experiences as well, freely offering advice to incoming freshmen on topics ranging from leaving pets behind to how to manage that newly-found freedom.

When incoming freshmen move into Southern Wesleyan’s Central campus Aug. 19, SWU staff and volunteers from student organizations and the community will be on hand to help them move into their residence halls. New Student Orientation offers an excellent way for the new student to transition into college life, offering experiences that will help them navigate all of what’s new and become part of the SWU community.