Having worked with college students on campus for more than 30 years, I offer these tips for those returning to Ole Miss and for those arriving here for the first time:
1. Go to class — and be on time. You’re paying a lot of tuition, so get your money’s worth. Pay attention in class. Don’t you hate the sound of crickets when no one responds to the professor’s question? Participate in class. This will improve your grade, impress your professor, and grow your self-confidence.
2. Introduce yourself to your professors so they get to know you. Tell your professor that you enjoy her/his class, whether you do or not. Find something complimentary to say. Google your professor. You’ll be surprised to learn that s/he 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. Try to eat well and get enough sleep. I know you have FOMO, but pace yourself. However, if you feel yucky, don’t ignore your symptoms. After about two weeks into the semester, you’re probably gonna come down with whatever crud is being shared in your dorm, your apartment, or your classroom. Whining about how awful you feel will not make you better. Go to the Student Health Center or a nearby clinic. COVID-19 is still a real thing, and it will come for you even if you think you’re invincible. Take precautions. Wash your hands often! 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. If they prescribe medicine for you, get the prescription filled, and take it as instructed!
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 may 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 an “I miss you and I love you” thrown in will make you and your folks feel good!
7. Check the local weather forecast. Have rain gear with you always. It doesn’t have to be fancy — 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. Keep a portable charger with you. When you arrive home, put your phone, charger, earbuds, wallet, keys, student ID, etc., in a basket where to be ready when you leave again. This will save you lots of time hunting for these things. Consider investing in air tags if you can’t keep up with your stuff!
9. Get involved on campus. Whether you’re interested in politics, religion, poker, or whatever, there’s likely a group with interests similar to yours. This is called networking and can prove beneficial both personally and professionally in the future.
10. Keep a calendar. There’s one on your phone and one on your computer. Keep track of important dates (withdrawal deadline, semester breaks, tests, due dates for papers, etc.) and make it a habit to write down stuff to remind you of the important things. You can’t possibly remember all these without providing yourself with a tool to help, so 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. Your circle of friends will grow, but you need to surround yourself with people you can trust and that you respect — and who respect you. Remember that the people you hang out with will define your character. And your reputation matters. So don’t post stuff on social media that might damage your reputation. And know that those posts live on forever!
12. Pay for a roadside assistance provider. 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 several 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 this is cheap and 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. Maybe you haven’t answered the question of what do you want to be when you grow up, and that’s okay. The Career Center can help with that. But you can set some goals for the semester — a certain GPA, some type of behavior modification, an exercise routine, active participation in class. Whatever it is, make it yours and set yourself up for success. Arriving at semester’s end and having a poor academic record is a horrible feeling, one that doesn’t go away easily.
15. Look for ways to volunteer/pay it forward. There will be many opportunities to do so. Take them. You’ll be better for it.
16. Everything in moderation and don’t do stupid stuff! Have a happy, safe, and successful academic year!