Ten Steps to Thriving: The First Few Weeks
The first month is a crazy one, there is simply no way around it. With new friends, new classes, and new places, everything takes some time to adjust. With that said, be easy on yourself! Within a few weeks you will have no challenge navigating the system. But for now, here are ten tips to looking and feeling less like the stereotypically clueless college freshman:
Ditch the lanyard. Invest in one of those keychain card-holders and attach it to a lanyard if that’s easier, but carrying it around on your neck is simply not necessary unless you are particularly proud of and want to flaunt your freshman standing.
Leave your door open! It is not weird. Or even better, take advantage of other people’s open doors! Food is always a good way to start a friendship, so consider baking lots of cookies to share with the dorm. But just as importantly, do not be afraid to branch out of Bergstrom! The open door standards still apply in the other freshmen residences.
Go to office hours!! You are going to feel nervous and a bit awkward walking into your professor’s office the first week, but believe me, you will be glad you did. The staff at SNC truly cares about your growth and success as a student, but even more so, your growth as a positive contributor to the world! Introduce yourself early, and stop back frequently to ask questions or continue conversations on interesting topics.
Learn the difference between custom cash and meal dollars (aka do not be stupid like me)! First semester last year I ran out of meal dollars two weeks before winter break, and that was possibly the saddest/least caffeinated finals week of my life. Let’s rewind a bit: I added about 50 dollars out of my pocket to my custom cash account at the beginning of the year. This account is used for paying for laundry and other purchases at the bookstore or other select De Pere locations, and it carries over every semester until you graduate. However, as a freshmen on the Platinum Meal Plan, you also have 425 meal dollars which can be used at Phil’s (the grill/convenience store in the Campus Center), Ed’s (the coffee shop/bakery in the Mulva Library), or Dale’s (the after-hours sports-type grill in Michels Commons). Meal dollars can also be used on any of the vending machines around campus, making it super easy to grab a snack between classes or a coffee each morning (which I definitely took advantage of). Every time you use a vending machine it shows your current card balance, and the same goes for every receipt at Dale’s, Ed’s, or Phil’s. What I did not know, however, was this balance also includes your custom cash amount. So with a hundred dollars (or so I thought), and two weeks til the end of first semester, I decided to buy a bunch of unnecessary snacks and expensive fruit and whatnot, just to realize hours later that I only had 11 cents left of my meal dollars. Long story short, I had no idea that the healthy balance I thought I had was mainly just custom cash - my money - that I had no intention of burning through. Word for the wise: check your custom cash/meal dollar balances separately on your “mySNC” account. It is relatively easy to pace yourself, but make sure you know the amount you are really working with.
Attend events with free food, because in addition to a nice snack break, you’ll learn good information and meet new people! As a freshman with an incredible meal plan, you are not going to go hungry, believe me. Even so, it’s never a bad idea to take advantage of the free ice cream, muffins, pizza, and more that club meetings and arts/crafts nights offer! Keep an eye out for the signs and read the announcements (tip #8 - super important) to never miss out on a chance to refuel on deliciously unhealthy food, take a breather, learn some new stuff about the campus community, and, most importantly, meet new people.
Hold the door five seconds longer than necessary. Nothing says St. Norbert Communio quite like holding a door for someone. It is a bit weird at first, but soon you will be a pro who brightens people’s mornings on the daily.
Get in line super early for Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter dinner. I’m talking at least 30 minutes. This is self-explanatory, as these are arguably the best days of the year. (I understand that this does not particularly apply to your first month but nevertheless is something to look forward to.)
Read the announcements!! Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each St. Norbert College student receives an email with the latest campus information, called the announcements. It is SO easy to just delete them or let them clog up your inbox, but the 30 second skim is usually well worth it. I cannot tell you how many screenshots of the announcements I have sent in group chats about events that my non-announcement-reading friends miss out on. Don’t be them. Do not pass up the activities/events/FREE FOOD that you otherwise would.
Print early and intelligently. Printers can be a bit confusing, but using either http://print.snc.edu or printing directly from google docs, the process is pretty self-explanatory. Each St. Norbert Student is allotted a print budget at the start of each semester, and this balance is accessible from your “mySNC account. The real tip here is knowing where to print and which printers to use! There are generally printers in every building, but it’s not uncommon for printers to be low/completely out of ink or paper. Because of this, I highly recommend printing materials at least an hour before the class and arriving at the printer before hitting “print” on your computer. Do not pull an Elisha and print 20 pages in color to GMS Level 2 just to find that there is no ink!! Because you better believe you’ll be charged for it anyway.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know you want to appear like you have got it all figured out, but that is just a disservice to yourself and to those around you. You are in a great place surrounded by so many incredible resources who truly want to help! Take advantage of it.
Best of luck. You’ve got this.