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Professors offer advice for new college students

Mike Still • Dec 30, 2019 at 6:00 PM

Advice for first-time college students:

Madelynn Shell

— “Take advantage of office hours, and go in to talk to your professors one-on-one. Get that sense that professors are not going to bite your head off and that getting to know you is very important.”

— Establish peer relationships, step out of your comfort zone, join a club that you might be interested in, sit next to someone new in the cafeteria, ask someone in your class to study with you. “Those are the sorts of things that can help form friendships that can make the difference for students.”

— Go to college with the attitude that you’re here to learn. Be open to new ideas and also seek out new experiences. “If you go to class and then go back to your room to play video games, you’re much less likely to get those experiences that ultimately might make the difference. Joining clubs, doing service learning, extracurricular activity — there’s lots of different opportunities that I think the more students take advantage of it, the better off they are, the more happy they are, the more they feel a sense of belonging to the campus.”

— Avoid overcommitment. “Once you get involved, you need to think seriously what your priorities are and what your goals are. If your goal is grad school, participating in research is very important. If your sorority is taking up 90 percent of your time, is that really going to help with your long-term goal?”

Alexandria Reynolds

— Prioritize sleep. “That means sometimes making the difficult decision to forego a social event, party or something you really want to do. Put down the phone, put down the book and say, ‘I’m going to stay home or stay in my room and give myself eight hours.’ ”

— Set up a good sleep environment: dark room, cool temperature. Avoid heavy meals or alcohol before bed. Don’t consume caffeine past the afternoon. Avoid stimulants.

— Don’t take something that you’re not familiar with or that your doctor hasn’t given you. Avoid melatonin. Researchers don’t know what the long-term effects of melatonin are. Some melatonin supplements are not regulated by the FDA.

— You can find plenty of information about sleep issues on websites such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Sleep Foundation.

— The three top exacerbators of any sleep condition are stress, sleep deprivation and caffeine.

— Not enough sleep can also affect your immune response.

— “If you want to be healthy, you want to be successful and you want to set yourself up for success, make sleep a priority.”

— Know the resources available, especially counselors.

— Set up a toolkit of resources to help deal with stresses.

— Don’t be afraid to ask for help.