Another Letter to a First Year Student

Well, we are two months into a new term and it’s worth sharing this again.

I might be posting this one month too early, but it’s on my mind. And, I can always revise and post again, right? Here I offer a second installment. The previous one was really focused more so on academics and having a well-rounded first term or year at university. This installment is based merely on my opinion and experience as both an undergrad advisor and as someone who has taught first year students for my entire career.

  • If you live in the dorms try to schedule your study time at a time when you’re at your best. Chances are you are juggling a handful of classes, work, relationships, stress, and more. You need to manage your time well and I suggest that you schedule study time. This requires that you keep a schedule! Add all the assignment due dates to the schedule, and take advantage of the UVIC Library’s Assignment Calculator, and those suggested due dates in your calendar.
  • Find out where the gym is on campus. If you haven’t been there, go take a tour, and have a workout there. Get comfortable there because you’re going to need to stay healthy during the term and this includes eating right, sleeping, and exercising.
  • Find out where Health Services/Campus Clinic is on campus, and go by and check when you can get a flu shot. If you don’t believe in flu shots, then make sure you wash your hands lots, and cough/sneeze into your arm. This is so obvious that it pains me to remind people, but seeing so many leave the bathroom without washing their hands–especially during flu season makes me share this.
  • Find out where Campus Counseling office is and find out what services and workshops they offer for student success. It could end up that the Learning Center or Library offers workshops related to time management, skill-building, and more. At the campus where I work the Counseling Services office offers some great workshops and counseling sessions.
  • Before the term begins, walk around campus to get familiarized with the different buildings, and check out your classrooms, so that you don’t get lost during the first week of classes. Check out other parts of campus for good study nooks and crannies!
  • Google your instructors or at the very least look them up on the university website so that you know what they look like. Some of you might not care to do this, but others will want to make sure that they’re in the right class. You will also get familiar with what your instructor teaches and researches. This particular suggestion might be more appropriate for the transfer student, who is looking for a mentor. I’ll add to this one–go see your professor during her/his office hours.
  • Check out the student union and the different clubs on campus. You should seriously look at getting involved on campus. The degree of this involvement will vary among the students, but you really should get involved in a club or two. This will allow you a way to meet other people.
  • Your first year you are really going to take an array of courses and meet the general education requirements for your undergraduate degree. But, you really should refer to the university guidelines or department requirements for the department that you think that you will pursue your major in. Take a course or three in this area, so that you can make sure that you want to pursue this degree.

I will continue these letters to a first year student. The next one will most likely focus with peer mentoring. I truly hope that some of this is helpful! If you’re a student, bookmark this and save it. If you work with college students, please add more. I’m sure I missed something in this second installment.

Today’s Fri Fun Facts is dedicated to thinking about what you do well and life planning. This is really for all of us, but I’m thinking of my college students who are on “break” working or taking Summer courses. It gets so easy to think about what needs to be done or what you haven’t scratched off on the “to do” list.During my office hours, I’ve also noticed a real apprehension with what is next and lots of self-doubt. So, let’s think about what you do well.

1. Get out a piece of paper. Oh, wait, open a new document or text yourself…

2. What do you do well? What are you known for among your friends or family?

3. The last time you were complimented–what was it for?

4. What do you want to known for at work or home? Remember to take care of yourself.

5. Think about your positive traits and what you have to give the world.

Now, think about what is next for you. You do not have to solve everything today, but just think about what is next. And, make this list realistic. Then, go chat with other mentors/coaches in your life and ask them for any guidance they might have as you embark on the next chapter in our life.

Owning Your Education

Today’s Friday Fun Facts is about taking control of your degree program by planning.

1. Verify the program requirements and make sure that you get as many of the prerequisites out of the way.

2. Re-read number one and then start working toward the electives in your degree program.

3. Visit the program or department’s academic advisor at least once per year.

4. Ask your instructors for advice, too. They might offer you an additional important opinion.

5. Speak to other students, but do not rely on them for the regulations or requirements, as they could be ahead of you and the regulations can change and your degree program might have experienced some changes. Always review the current requirements with an academic advisor.

6. Focus on taking classes that will round out your degree program.

7. Try to take some classes that you are genuinely interested in taking.

Enjoy your education. Own your education.

Fri Fun Facts~ Planning: What Works for You

We officially at that point of the term that many of my students will wonder what happened to their Reading Break. They just had a week free from classes and hopefully relaxed and worked. Some did. Most did not get as much done as they wanted to. This is normal. Today’s Fri Fun Facts is related to planning the rest of the term.

1. If you haven’t done so already–get out your syllabi and highlight the due dates for your papers. Then, go to the Assignment Calculator. This will help you gauge your time.

2. Get focused. Now is the time to meet with your Teaching Assistants and Professors. Ask questions about the papers or other assignments. Get a better idea about their expectations. What are they really looking for with the paper/project?

3. Eat, sleep and exercise. It sounds easy enough–but you have to stay healthy.

4. Go to class. You will hear lectures and important information. Your participation today could turn out useful next year, when you ask for a job reference or letter of recommendation. Your Professor might remember you better if you were in class.

Overall, my words of advice–plan.

Organization Matters: Fri Fun Facts

Recently I had a student in my office who had his next two years planned out–typed and ready for my review. I get this. I did this. OK, it was hand written, but I also planned like this. Today’s Friday Fun Facts is dedicated to planning your post-secondary education. And, here I assume that this plan is after the first year, so that the student has at least taken several course as they figure out what they like or don’t.

1. After you’ve met your undergraduate requirements for the degree review the requirements for the degree programs that you’re the most interested in for your major and or minor.

2. Related to the above point, I actually suggest to students that they at the very least have a major and a minor. Preferably, I’d suggest a double major. For some the preference might work best as a major, minor and co-op. The students who are focused on graduate school should look if the department has an Honors Program.

3. You should meet with the Undergraduate Advisor(s). This will vary at campuses. In some the office might be in the department (your major area) or there might be an Advising Center. Either way–these professional staff or faculty are there to help you. They can best help you when you are well informed and when you have questions for them.

4. Talk to other students to find out what they suggest. They will also be useful to find out which departments and professors you should look into for your degree program.

5. Remember that this is your education and you need to own it. You must be your best advocate in and out of the classroom. This means that you need to keep an eye out for deadlines and make meetings with the appropriate people or offices for information.

6. And, if you’re like the student from earlier this month and me, you can map out your courses for your degree program. It’s useful to actually see what you need and what you can take. Do it! It’s not in stone, but it makes you organize what you need to do.

May I suggest that you get a copy of the rules and add post its and highlight all the key information. Nowadays so much of this information is online and somehow you need to get familiar with the information regarding your degree program. Bookmark the appropriate webpages.

On the Job Market: Undergrads

This post is going to offer some suggestions for students who are entering the job market. Some of my suggestions were shared previously, but they are worth repeating.

1. Go by the Career Services or similar offices on your campus. Usually Alums can also use this service.

  • When there check out the services.
  • Attend a resume writing workshop or ask one of the staff to review your resume
  • Attend any other useful workships that the office staff offers

2. Chat with your mentors. If you don’t have any–chat with your current or former professors. If you feel unsure, then contact the Undergraduate Advisors and chat with her/him.

  • Let this contact know that you’re on the job market and see if they have any suggestions for you.
  • Ask this person if s/he is willing to review your resume or CV.

3. Work your networks.

  • Let everyone in your network know that you are looking for work. (This might include your partner, girlfriend/boyfriend, parents, coworkers, pastor, coach, etc.
  • Make coffee appointments or other appointments with people and come with your resume in hand. Let people know that you are looking for work.
  • Ask your contacts if they have any leads or suggestions for you.
  • Offer to take the person out for coffee…chances are that you’ll go dutch or the other person will want to pay, but you really should be willing to offer.
  • Research if there are other means of engaging in the community–social media, Chamber of Commerce, and other groups related to your area.

4. Keep a positive attitude.

  • it might take you several months to find work that meets your requirements
  • Be willing to get your foot in the door and accept an entry level position
  • Sleep, eat right, exercise, and try to save money or spend as little money as possible as you’re set on your job search goal.

5. Be flexible

  • Make sure that you’re willing to take a job that isn’t your career. This job might help you get to the next step.
  • Don’t dismiss the job. The connections you make might turn into gold for the next job or get you toward your career goal.

6. When you get an interview offer for your dream job or even plan b

  • Talk to a trusted mentor about questions to expect, dress, and other points so that you’re ready for the interview
  • Try to coordinate a mock interview with a few trusted friends–preferable people who have interviewed more than you.
  • Think about the questions you might get asked and work out answers. You might even practice in front of a mirror.
  • During the interview, remember that it’s acceptable to pause for a second–get your bearings and then answer the question.
  • e. Send a thank you card after the interview. Keep it simple: thank the person, committee or team for the interview and note that you look forward to hearing from them.
  • f. Do not bad mouth the company or any of the employees on any social media.

7. You get an offer

  • Try to negotiate for more pay or benefits. It doesn’t hurt. Particular to women–we tend to not negotiate and accept the offer.
  • Review the offer with someone who you trust.
  • Counter offer and wait. (Be reasonable with your counter offer)
  • Do not involved your parents in the counter offer—your mom or dad should not call and complain about the offer!

8. Accept the job

  • Work in the position like you are in probation. You might be on probation! So you have to prove to your employer why you are invaluable.
  • Dress for the job you want and not just the job you have.
  • Be professional in dress (note 8 b) and in your attitude.

Remember your job does not necessarily define you. Each job can provide you useful experience and build your resume.

Fri Fun Facts: How to Use the Calendar

My Fri Fun Facts is about how to use the #UVIC Calendar in the most efficient way. To get you up to speed, the Calendar includes the rules or requirements regarding your area of study at #UVIC

1. Find your major or your department and place a post it in the calendar

2. Read and highlight as needed

3. Check your courses taken with the department requirements

4. Review the list of courses offered in the department and flag the ones that you are interested in taking.

5. Verify which ones meet the stated (if any) requirements with the courses that you have taken or want to take.

6. Sketch out a realistic time frame for completing your degree program.

7. Take a look at the current schedule and understand that some courses in the calendar might not be offered by the department.

8. Be flexible (look at number 7 again).

9. Once you have this sketched out–verify your findings with the department undergraduate advisor. It’s better to be safe.

10. Have you visited Academic Advising? You should do so annually, in my opinion. Don’t wait until it’s time to apply to graduate.

11. Did you know that as a student you can designate or “make” your own minor?! Yes, you can. See your department contact for information.

These are my top ten fact for successful use of calendar. You can, of course, access the calendar online. But, with something this important–a hard copy is something that you can write on and take with you to the advising appointment. Good luck!