Leaving your parents’ house for the first time to go to college can be an exhilarating but also extremely challenging time. The freedom and independence you get for the first time is truly amazing, but the pressure of being on your own in unfamiliar territory can also quickly weigh you down. After three years at Wake Forest, navigating through the highs and lows of college life, here is some advice that I would have loved to hear when I first set foot on campus:
Get to know your professor
What really sets Wake Forest apart from other higher education institutions is the classroom experience it provides to students. Wake Forest professors are world-class and you can benefit a lot from their expertise.
Even in a COVID-19 world, professors at Wake Forest are a great resource to have, so do not be afraid to reach out for some clarification or even set up an appointment outside of class time. Office hours are a really good resource available to us and you should definitely take advantage of it. Especially now with classes mostly online, you should take every opportunity you have to soak up the knowledge your professors have to offer.
Plus, it is way easier to ask for a recommendation letter or that last-minute, grade-saving extension on a hard assignment when the professor knows you have been engaged in their class.
Don’t isolate yourself
This is perhaps the single thing I would change the most about my college experience. During my first year everything was new and exciting but also, quite frankly, too daunting. I was faced with bigger responsibilities and life changes that I was clearly not prepared for at first.
Whether it is not doing too well on an assignment, missing home or simply not knowing if you should sit down with your new hallmates for lunch (socially distanced, of course), it is very easy to feel out of place during your first few weeks at Wake Forest.
For some — and that clearly was my case — you tend to shut yourself down to all of those anxiety-inducing moments. This can lead to you isolating yourself from your friends, professors and the people that are ultimately there to help you navigate through this sea of changes. Make the effort to talk things through with your friends or seek help from the counseling center, if that’s the case. You will see that the challenges that college poses are much more manageable when you have people and friends around you that make you feel supported.
Take time to experience Wake Forest
This might sound counterintuitive to my earlier point about focusing on your classes, but you should take time to explore everything Wake Forest has to offer outside of the classroom.
As an international student on scholarship at Wake Forest, I arrived on campus with an added layer of concern to prove myself and show that I had the academic acumen that would justify my presence.
Yet, now, as I am about to enter my senior year, I realize that some of the best memories I have made in college resulted from staying up a little later or pushing back an assignment to attend a once-in-the-semester event. I am not advocating for skating through college, which usually doesn’t end well at “Work Forest.” But, you should cut yourself some slack and explore beyond your required class reading.
Trust me, when you look back at your college time, you will remember much more about 3 a.m. post-party conversations or time in your favorite student organization than what grade you got in your social science divisional during your sophomore year … unless it’s a really bad one.