Setting up for success

College counselor, alumnae advise on how to maximize a college freshman’s first 100 days in a new environment.

Setting up for success

Neely Metz, Features Editor

As President Trump wrapped up his highly anticipated first 100 days last month, seniors made their final deposits at their respective colleges, and began planning their academic future.

While the Senior Class won’t be dismantling America’s health care system, implementing new policies or threatening war with North Korea in their own first 100 days, the first months of freshman year can be vital in setting up for success for the rest of college.

“For the orientation at LMU, we were separated into groups based on our majors because they really wanted us to get to know people who we would be having classes with so we could see a familiar face,” Lily Ross ’16, who attends Loyola Marymount University, said. “Most of the things were just logistics, like getting your classes, figuring out the dorm you’re going to be in, kind of showing you around the school, and then a whole other part of it was questions about the social aspect of college.”

Even before classes begin, most colleges offer orientation programs – and even pre-orientation options – to help incoming freshmen better adjust to college life, according to College Counseling Director Rebecca Munda.

With some colleges offering organized trips or service events, introductions to academic and campus life and activities to introduce freshmen to the student body, opportunities to get involved aren’t limited to when classes begin.

“The first three months of Freshman Year is a hub of activity, especially the first few weeks,” Munda said. “There are a lot of structured events in those first few days before classes actually begin. You typically find in the first few weeks, there’s going to be more energy than usual because they are doing their best to help freshmen feel welcome in their new home.”

While the transition from high school to a college environment can be difficult for many students, orientation activities like ice breakers, campus tours and interactions with older students can help freshmen make relationships with fellow classmates as well as become familiar with various programs and administrators on campus.

“Orientation really helps students figure out their new environment, it lets them know what their resources are and where they can access different services,” Munda said.

But while high school orientations are often a required part of the curriculum, many college freshmen must willingly participate in orientation opportunities themselves.

“In college it’s not necessarily going to be required, so students have to opt into those programs,” Munda said. “I would recommend them because it’s going to help with that transition, and no matter how excited or prepared you are to go to college it’s still a transition.”

Once the excitement of orientation fades away, adjusting to a drastically different schedule, new independence and being away from home can be overwhelming for many students, but getting involved in programs, activities and organizations offered on campus can help freshmen adjust to daily life.

“It was hard to adjust to such a different schedule – like some days you might have no class, some days you may only have one class – so you really have to learn how to manage your time,” Ross said. “With high school it’s pretty set up for you, but in college you have to determine when you’re going to get groceries or when you’re going to have a social life. You need to figure that stuff out by yourself, and that was definitely the biggest thing to adjust to.”

Ross said she regretted not taking advantage of the many social and organizational opportunities on campus after orientation. 

“Other than Greek life, there’s so much more to do,” Ross said. “There are so many clubs and so many community service opportunities that aren’t that big of a commitment. That’s a really great way to meet people, but I didn’t do that. So I would just get involved in more things.”

Participating in Greek organizations, campus sports teams or other academic programs and clubs can be a good way for students to transition into life on campus and feel more at home in the new environment, according to Munda.

If a student continues to have trouble adjusting to college life, Munda recommends reaching out to a resident adviser or counseling office for assistance.

“You have to let people know if you are having a hard time,” Munda said. “You can’t assume people will know. So if you are having challenges, reach out to someone because it’s something they’re used to and something they see every year, you just have to reach out and be proactive.”