By Bonnie Brown
Throughout my career at Ole Miss, I tried to help and guide students. If I could personally tell each student things that I think would be helpful to them in college it would be these things:
1. Go to class. You’re paying a lot of tuition, so get your money’s worth. So, what if the University has to change to a virtual-learning platform? You still need to engage to learn!
2. Introduce yourself to your professors/instructors so they get to know you. Tell your professor that you enjoy his/her class whether you do or not. Find something complimentary to say. Google your professor. You’ll be surprised to learn that he/she likely has remarkable credentials.
3. Likewise, make friends with the students seated next to you in class. They are your resource for notes should you have to miss class, someone to study with, and someone who shares your anguish about the class. Get over your shyness. Your opening line to your fellow classmates could be “Where you from?”
4. Take care of yourself. You are in charge of you now. You should try to eat well and get enough sleep. However, if you feel yucky, then you are sick. Don’t ignore your symptoms. Simply whining about how awful you feel will not make you better. Go to the Student Health Center or a nearby clinic. Yes, get tested for COVID. And yes, the swab up your nose is uncomfortable. The doctors, nurses, and staff are well trained, but they don’t know the particulars about your insurance. Make sure you take your insurance cards and ID with you.
5. Look out for others. You know what I’m talking about. When someone has become unable to take care of themselves, make the effort to help get them home safely so they don’t come to harm. Hopefully, they would do the same for you. Click that Uber app on your phone. Be their hero!
6. Be in touch with your parents and your grandparents. The grandparents will be even more grateful to hear from you than your parents. You don’t have to hang on the phone for long conversations but a short text with a “I miss you and I love you” thrown in will make you and your folks feel good!
7. Check the local weather forecast (there’s an app for that) and have rain gear with you always, a plastic disposable poncho works. Not only will an umbrella or rain jacket keep you dry, but it can also protect your computer, phone, books, etc.
8. And speaking of phone, get yourself a portable charger to keep with you. You will need it! When you arrive home, put your phone, charger, earbuds, wallet, keys, student ID, etc. in a basket where it is ready for you when you leave again. This will save you lots of time hunting for these things.
9. Get involved on campus. Whether you’re interested in politics, religion, poker, whatever, there’s a group with similar interests as you. It’s called networking.
10. Keep a calendar. Write down the need-to-know dates (withdrawal deadline, semester breaks, tests, due dates for papers, etc.). Write down assignments, test dates, and any other obligations. Even—and especially—social activities! You can’t possibly remember all these without providing yourself a tool to help. Write it down!
11. Be social but be aware. Enjoy meeting new people, but “vet” new acquaintances before you allow them total access to your life.
12. Pay for a roadside assistance provider so that when you have trouble with your vehicle, you can call on them rather than having to rely on your friends or worse, having your dad drive 3 hours to change a flat tire. The cost for the roadside assistance is likely less costly than the sushi you had for dinner last night.
13. Get renter’s insurance if you live off-campus. It’s cheap and would be so worth it should you have damage or theft to your personal property or contents. Think how expensive it would be to replace your new laptop, smart TV, and air fryer.
14. Set goals. So maybe you haven’t answered the question of “what do you want to be when you grow up.” The Career Center can help with that. But you can set some goals for the semester—a certain GPA, some type of behavior modification, establish an exercise routine, actively participate in class. Whatever it is, make it yours, and set yourself up for success! You got this!
15. And my last advice is a two-parter: Everything in moderation and don’t do stupid stuff!