By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Of course, you want to make this the best semester yet.
Kate Donaghue, graduate student in the school counseling master’s program at SUNY Oswego, offers a few ideas.
Donaghue has worked as an orientation laker Leader for three years and has completed on-campus internships and service opportunities in her three years on Oswego’s campus.
Here’s what she has to say:
• Talk to Everyone. “Talk to your professors, advisers and supervisors at work. You never know which connection will lead you to a new opportunity. It’s easier said than done but don’t be nervous talking to others on campus because almost every time they’re excited to get to know students. Their job is to support students during their academic journey and it’s why they’re working at a college.”
She added that talking with other students can also cultivate connections and friendships.
• Go to On-Campus Programs. “Support the resident assistant (RA) staff and attend their on-campus programming. These programs can be fun and a great way to befriend your RAs or other people in your building.”
Student-run organizations also provide programming you may want to experience.
• Get Involved. Donoghue encourages students to talk with the Student Engagement and Leadership Office. “It’s always good to join a student club on campus because you can add it to a resume and show you’re involved with your college. This will give you experience taking on different responsibilities within the club and making more connections on campus.”
• Maintain a Schedule. “This isn’t one of the most fun parts of college but it’s one of the most important parts to succeeding,” Donaghue said.
This can include times to work on schoolwork and the times of your club or group meetings. Donaghue likes visuals, so a whiteboard calendar helps her.
• Plan for Self-care. “This is a part of college that I think not enough people remember,” Donaghue said. “Pursuing a degree is hard and it’s okay to say it’s difficult. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by assignments and responsibilities, take time for yourself.”
She suggested finding an outlet such as “spending time with people you trust, watching a show you like, or napping. Do whatever fills your cup because your mind will appreciate a break from schoolwork here and there.”
• Get an On-Campus Job. “Why not have a few extra dollars to spend while you’re away at college?” Donaghue said.
In addition to making a few extra bucks, an on-campus job can help you “build a resume, work on time management skills, and provide spending money,” she added.
• Go Off Campus. As much as you may love your campus, it’s important to get off campus as well. “You’ll probably find a few good restaurants to eat at and some activities,” Donaghue said. “Check out Google Maps. It’ll give you plenty of information about what to do around town.”
• Keep in Touch. “Make sure to call back home and keep in touch with your support,” Donaghue said. “You never know when you’ll need it. Whoever’s back home to support would love to know what’s going on at college. They are another source of support when things get a little stressful while you’re away.”
• Ask for Help When You Need It. Of course, college is a time to gain more independence; however, asking for help when you need it is a sign of maturity.
“Professors are paid to teach classes and guide you to the right resources when you need them,” Donaghue said.
She encouraged students to ask for help at the campus tutoring center for academic struggles or through the college’s mental health resources if struggling with stress or anxiety.
• Keep an Open Mind. “Try new things,” Donaghue said. “Be open-minded when given your class schedule for the first time and try your hardest to make the best out of new classes. Go to a club meeting you’ve never been to before. If your friend asks you to do something you’ve never done, get out of your comfort zone and just try it. Keeping an open mind will do so much more for you than you think. That’s what college is for: trying new things.”