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Welcome to the U of R : First-Year Advice Edition

Hi everyone! I can’t believe that the semester is half-way over and it’s November; where did the time go? Since I am now a junior in college, it is acceptable for me to give advice to our first-year students, which is exactly what this blog is about! So here are some insider tips about five things that stressed me out when I was a first year:

1. Course Registration

As you all know, registration season is upon us, and that implies it’s oh-my-God-I’m-so-confused time. Just to remind you of important dates:

  • Advising week is from October 29–November 2.
  • Course registration is from November 5–November 9, but remains open till the end of second week of classes (January 30).
  • First-year students can sign up on November 8 from 9:45 am–3:30 pm.

Visit the Registrar’s website.

Anyway, the best advice I can give you about course registration is that you should have multiple back-up options, in case you don’t get into your first choice. Also, if you haven’t taken WRT 105 yet, you should try and register for it this upcoming spring, so you don’t have to worry about it later on during sophomore year.

My course schedule for Spring 2019! (I have a feeling it’s going to be a time…)

If you do end up not getting into the classes you want, don’t freak out! Most professors have instructor codes, and in general, a lot of students end up dropping courses till the end of Add/Drop period in February. I would suggest watching out for empty spots, and reaching out to the professor in any case.

If you’re not sure about what classes you should take or you’re confused about pre-requisites, you should talk to the Peer Advisers for that department! They are an amazing resource, and can give you some great feedback and inside scoop! Get more information about peer advisers for each department.

2. Winter season 

As an international student from New Delhi, India, I had never seen snow before. Even though I was really excited, I was internally panicking about not being prepared and becoming an icicle. If you also feel this way, you are not alone, my friend! My expert advice about surviving Rochester winters is to bundle up and use the tunnel system as much as you can. Make sure to layer up with warm sweaters, buy thick, fuzzy socks, a beanie, some gloves, and a scarf, and most importantly, winter boots and a winter coat. It may sound like a lot, but these are pretty much essential for any place that has a real winter season. Also, don’t forget to use the tunnel system to avoid walking outside in the cold, as most buildings are  connected underground and are pretty warm all the time.

The campus looks even prettier when it snows…

3. Midterms and finals, oh my!

Since it’s November, I’m assuming you’ve already had a round of midterms this past month. So, now you know what to expect from college-level courses (AKA they are hard)! I realized this pretty late, but there are some amazing resources to help you study and do well in your classes, and they are all free of charge! Starting with office hours for your professor and teaching assistants, I would say that you should definitely stop by, even if it’s for a quick chat or question. There are also study groups and tutoring session offered through CETL (Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning).

I think there is no harm in giving these resources a try, as you never know how helpful they might end up being! On that note, you should never hesitate from asking for help in any case, as that it what your instructors, TAs, tutors and the University community at large are there for.

Tutoring is a great resource!

Another thing that is really important during exam season (and life, in general) is taking care of yourself. All the stress about classes, extra-curriculars, jobs, etc. can get to you and have a negative impact on your overall well-being. So, remember to eat healthy, sleep regularly, exercise, socialize and hang out with friends, and reach out if you feel that something is not okay! There are always people who care, and they are trained to help you. You can find out more on the UCC website.

4. Getting involved and finding your squad

For most people, one of the hardest things in college is finding the right group of friends and having a a balanced social life. If you think you haven’t fit in and found “your kind of people” yet, hang in there! There’s a place for everyone; you just have to make the effort and wait for the results. I met most of my friends through my first-year dorm, Gilbert, and my major, biomedical engineering. The main advice I would give you is take the first step (even though it seems really hard)! A lot of people are in the same boat as you, and are too shy or uncomfortable reaching out first. So, be it talking to people in your classes, joining a club or activity, hanging out in Starbucks, or getting to know your neighbors- there are so many ways of getting involved on campus! (If nothing works, feel free to reach out to me—I love making new friends!)

My roommates and me during Meliora Weekend!

5. Adulting? What? No!

If you’re anything like me, you are also deeply stressed about growing up and becoming a real person. College is hard, but it’s also one of the best experiences of your life! Your first year is especially great, as you’re still new to being in college, and are still in the exploratory stage. But, as you’ll probably experience yourself, it only gets harder from here (unfortunately). You’ll have harder courses, more time commitments and responsibilities, and will inevitably have to think about the future. Well, my main piece of advice right now is don’t worry about it right now! Most people don’t start thinking about these things until their sophomore year, so you’re good! So sit back and enjoy your first-year, as it’s not going to come back!

However, if you are a little high-strung like me, you should totally book an appointment with the Gwen M. Greene Career Center and talk about your life ambitions and goals with a career advisor. I have a habit of making big life decisions pretty frequently, so I stop by there every few weeks. Feel free to read more about the services they offer.

Don’t we look like regular adults?

You made it till the end! Now, you are a little more prepared for your first-year than you were 20 minutes ago, so congratulations. The main lesson you should take from this blog post is that everything will be okay!

Make your first year ever better!
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