Stepping Into College Might Be Daunting...
Article written and editted by David Ho
This new-found freedom you have longing for over your life as you start a new chapter of your life, enter college! While being occupied with making new friends and exploring fun activities to do, why not explore what your college has to offer? Maximise your time in finding out what resources there are for you! They can range from personal, professional, to academic development. Let’s find out what resources you can benefit from your college!
Office hours? Am I at work?
Besides official class time, professors and instructors also make time outside of class to meet with students. Office hours are usually optional and professors normally leave it up to their students to decide if they want to come to office hours or not. That said, office hours are great learning assets as they could help address your individual needs and questions that you might not be comfortable voicing in class. As the academic year goes by, office hours will become an integral part of your studies!
“Most of us have been in situations where we are too afraid to ask in front of a large group”
What can you get out of office hours?
The most obvious advantage of office hours is their personalization. Most of us have been in that situation where we don’t understand something but are too afraid to ask in front of a large group. Office hours might help reduce that anxiety and allow you to ask your questions more comfortably. You can ask your professors for elaboration on a specific idea, extra help or even discuss your own opinion of the topic. There are no stupid questions.
Your questions do not have to always be course-related. Apart from academic questions, guidance, mentorship, professional advice, graduate schools application, research, etc are also topics of interest for discussion. If there’s something you think your professor might help you with or give advice, office hours might be the place for you.
Finally, office hours provide you with great opportunities to build good relationships with your professors. Getting to know your professors and allowing them to know you will make the course even more individualized to you, thus benefiting your course performance and even open up opportunities!
“Getting to know your professors makes the course even more individualized to you”
How to make the best out of office hours?
Come PREPARED: Your professors will not entertain you if you come in unprepared because they won’t know how to help you. Therefore, do go through the materials beforehand, prepare specific questions or ideas. This is a two way exchange, so expect professors to ask you questions so they can identify your problems and guide you.
DRIVE the conversation: As office hours are all about you, these sessions enable you to achieve your desired results. Do not come expecting professors to give you a straight answer. More often than not they will guide you through your thinking process and arrive at the solution with you.
Keep an OPEN mind: You might encounter some frustration or reservations during your learning process, but don’t feel discouraged! Try to keep an open mind and you’ll be surprised with what you can learn. These sessions allow you to exchange ideas and opinions with your professors, in which you may learn much more than you think!
For further insights on effectively using office hours, read this.
I can master writing, I can master writing.
Whether you are a STEM or social science major, coming to college also means that you’ll have to develop sufficient writing skills in order to succeed. Most colleges offer writing resources that help students develop these skills and additional help for their assignments. Here are some examples that you might find helpful.
Attend writing seminars
Depending on your curriculum, a full course dedicated to enhancing and training your writing to the college level might be compulsory or not. These writing seminars are highly beneficial for your academic success as they not only train you how to write, but also how to think critically. You’ll learn everything about academic papers, citations, and analysing texts during these seminars.
“Writing centers do so much more than just proofreading”
Seek writing centers
Writing centers are also great resources for writing besides official writing courses. Like office hours, these writing centers are more tailored to your individual needs rather than providing general training on writing. Writing centers do so much more than just proofreading. Your writing instructor may guide you through and not be limited to outlining, developing ideas, checking coherence, essay tones, citations, etc. They want to ensure your work is of the best possible quality, and that you can see yourself improving overtime. Each college will have its writing centres, so keep an eye out for it!
Go to the library
This is perhaps a surprising resource to some, but libraries' functions extend beyond just as a place for you to use your phone to kill time. You should reach out to your librarians for additional help on effective searching, databases, or when you have difficulties finding something. They might not be able to help you with idea generation, but they might be very effective at helping you find something specific that you need.
Do look out for reliable online writing tools that may help you as well! Here are a few tools that can improve your writing skills.
Look out for yourself from time to time!
Being away from home, adapting to new lifestyles, an essential part of college is being able to take care of your physical and mental needs. These are the two indispensable pillars for success during your undergraduate career, and almost every college dedicates specific resources that ensure their student’s mental health and wellbeing.
Visit relevant offices
Each college might designate these responsibilities to different offices, but some of the most common are: Health Centers, Dean of Students, Student Life, etc. Even so, all of these offices are more than welcome to help and direct you to the right resources if you reach out to them. Please do not be hesitant to ask if you are in need of help, they should be your first point of contact.
The resources offered by your colleges could include: Awareness programming, individual consultation, group sessions, etc. You could also seek special accommodations from the university depending on your individual circumstances.
You got a friend in me
The quickest and greatest resource is your own friends, as they go through more or less the same college experience as you are. In certain situations, they might be just the right people to help you out. Do not keep your thoughts and emotions to yourself, so make sure to reach out to them for advice, consultation or to distract yourself from a busy week of work!
Student-led organizations are another great resource as students who run them share the same college experience as you. Additionally, they also receive certified training, which makes them a reliable source for help. These organizations can be found during college fairs or simply on Instagram.
At Millie, we understand every student’s college journey can be different. We admire students who are resilient and their ability to handle problems, but knowing how to use the resources available to you might aid in unlocking your fullest potential and creating a safe, enjoyable college experience. When you go to college, please do not hesitate to reach out for help as everyone and everything is there to ensure your undergraduate career success.
We are a proud community of international students from around the world. Follow us on Instagram and reach out to others like you! Alternatively, we have resources on our website that you may find helpful for your college journey!