If you made it through freshman year and you’re gearing up for Round 2, welcome back!
If you’re setting foot on campus this fall as a seasoned veteran, I salute you.
And if you’re a senior, I’ve got nothing but love and respect for you.
But if you only know this beautiful school from tours, pictures and anticipation, then you’re a new student, either freshman or transfer. Before I say anything else –
WELCOME TO THE COMMUNITY!
Congratulations!!! You finally have an answer to the dreaded, “Do you know where you’re going to school?” You might be sick of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! or perhaps you’re already missing gym class and bus rides, or maybe you’re psyched for this new chapter of your young life! Whatever the case may be, know that I’m happy you’re here, I’m praying for you, and I understand.
Instead of yet another "what you should know" article, this is meant to be a tailored and colorful composite of different advice from real-life Saint Vincent students who want you to be prepared and excited for your first semester on our unique campus.
To start off, the best possible advice I can give you is this: Know yourself. Know what you need to be comfortable and confident. There’s a time and place to be bold and try new things, but it’s good to be aware of your limits and be sure to take time for yourself. It’ll take a few weeks to find the right schedule to get enough sleep, food, exercise, personal time, etc. Be kind to yourself and don’t push yourself too soon.
The following is a collection from various students, some who remember the ups and downs of freshman year well, and others who know what it’s like to transfer schools. Not every piece of advice will be applicable, but I hope you find a few ideas that help you adjust and feel more confident as you start this journey!
If you’re excited for school but also want to make a lot of friends:
College is a time for growth on all fronts. It can be difficult to balance fun and work, education and experience. Here’s some of DJ Hough’s top pieces of advice:
- Be outgoing! Although it may be weird or slightly awkward, the more you go out and talk to people, the more likely you’ll make connections with friends who’ll last a lifetime! And don’t worry about being weird because everyone is going through the same thing!
- Make sure to remain organized from the get-go! Although it may be easy to let things slide for another day, you may find that reading assignment or research project takes longer than expected! That way, if it does or an unforeseen circumstance arises, you’ll be 100% ready to take it on with all the time in the world.
- Be positive! Although your room may be small, or you miss home, or you wanted a different roommate, being positive can go a long way! By maintaining a good attitude, you’ll be more likely to participate in many of the activities and programs Saint Vincent offers and hopefully have a fantastic time at your new home!
If you love being around people:
College can be one big whirlwind sometimes. Be willing to push yourself! Stay out of your room as much as possible and take time for little conversations. Here are some ideas from Philomena Parrish, a former transfer student:
- Definitely try to be open-minded and outgoing – it will help you meet a lot of people and make friends.
- Try out some sports and clubs! There are tons of opportunities to meet like-minded people!
- Use the school’s resources (like the library, the Career Center or sage professors).
- Befriend the Saint Vincent monks, some of the most interesting and kind men you’ll ever meet!
- Branch out and meet different groups. You are not limited – be bold!
- Take advantage of the chapel, especially if you just need a moment to yourself, or a little bit of silence.
- Never be afraid to ask for help!
If you value time to recharge on your own:
It might feel like college is designed for extroverts. You might be over-stimulated at times and need to take time for yourself. At the same time, pushing comfort zones is a tried and true method for meeting new people you otherwise would never have met! Here are various anonymous thoughts on how an introvert might be able to thrive:
- Get outside of your comfort zone! Don’t always expect others to initiate.
- Never be afraid to ask questions! (Mostly everyone is happy to help, and maybe you’ll make a new friend!) Remember, everyone was a new student once.
- Try to get out of your room whenever possible. You won’t meet people holed up with Netflix. If you’re a freshman, hang out in your pod or in a new friend’s pod.
- Then again, let your room become a sanctuary, a place of study and rest. Don’t feel like you have to invite people over the first weeks of school. Rather, reserve your room for “me time.” Call your family, Skype a friend, read a book or nap. Then, once you’re ready, head back out and meet people!
- Explore campus to find special places for you to study. Especially during the light fall weather; there are a great many places to get that alone time in!
- If you’re a commuter, take advantage of the beautifully-renovated commuter lounge!
If you want to take advantage of everything life at Saint Vincent has to offer:
You’ve probably heard it said, “College is the best time of your life.” Whether or not it is, your time at SVC is special and valuable in its own right. Don’t risk waiting until you’re graduated to wish you’d explored every avenue. Recently graduated Joel Kankiewicz (former transfer student!) offered some areas he loved the most during his time at SVC:
- Embrace the opportunity to experience the Liberal Arts. It’s already built in the curriculum – you have to take philosophy and fine arts and other interesting non-major-related classes. Learn a little of literature, of world religion, of biology or piano. These are the classes that make up a well-rounded education that teaches you to have a broader perspective.
- Rather than just saying, “What’s the easiest class?” to get it out of the way, choose something you can learn from that you’ve always wanted to know about, or that sounds like fun. Don’t worry about if it’s a lot of work – you’ll be giving yourself something more valuable than you realize.
- The Benedictine monks are great examples of living in community. Finding your own community means surrounding yourself with people whom you can be confident around, who build you up and challenge you in new ways. These are the people who will help form you – so take care to choose well. This is going to be difficult at first, but if you persevere, you will find people who love having you around and become true friends.
- In addition, place yourself in a position to meet such friends. We have the great gift of joining the monks for Vespers, or Evening Prayer, at 5 p.m. in the Basilica Monday through Friday. Whatever events you decide to try out, don’t just show up – participate! Engage! Introduce yourself and make a friend.
- Whether you’ve grown up in a certain religion, are really into your faith, or haven’t quite decided, take advantage of the spiritual presence Saint Vincent has to offer. You have time in your life right now to ponder big questions. You have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal thanks to the brothers, professors and unique individuals you’re going to school with. There are tons of programs to explore another religion, deepen your personal faith or meet friendly people!
- The Christian Church is alive at Saint Vincent, for those who care to partake in it. If you seek it out, you’ll have whatever you need – daily Mass, confession, adoration, the liturgy of the hours, nights of prayer and fruitful conversations.
- Finally, don’t be afraid!!! Persevere and find that community! Try new things that you may not have thought of! Be brave!
What’s the most popular advice for new students? “GET INVOLVED!” Well, aside from classes and programs and freshman pods, one way you’ll meet like-minded people is through clubs and events!
I hope this helps at least a little in your transition to Saint Vincent.
Take a deep breath - it can only go up from here!