Students, faculty give advice for fall semester survival

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Fall semester marks the end of summer, the beginning of another four months of classes, and a brand-new maze to navigate. 

For incoming and returning students alike, August through December may seem daunting. Most students have been in summer mode for three months, and it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things. For some, it is their first semester at Dixie State University or their first time away from home.

The most common mistake freshmen make during their first semester is thinking college is just another version of high school but on a larger scale, General Education Adviser Rose Hill said. Many students don’t realize how heavy the class load is or how much time they’ll spend outside of class studying.

Hill tells the students she advises, “You’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Kacey Brazzeal, a non-degree seeking business administration major from St. George, said the one thing he wishes he’d known before he started college is how much harder it is compared to high school. Underestimating the amount of work and the level of difficulty of his classes, he took 21 credits in his first semester and ended up doing poorly in most of them.

“I am not going to do that again,” he said.

There are a few tips Hill gives to new students, especially those who are moving to a new place. She suggests foremost, that students get to know their professors. They should be the first point of contact when it comes to questions about studies. 

Next, know key deadlines and due dates, not only for assignments, but registration deadlines as well. It’s common for students to realize after a few weeks that they want to drop a class; however, some wait too long to drop it and end up incurring fees they now have to pay on top of tuition. But if you know your advisers and talk to them, it can easily be avoided. Advisers know what classes are needed for each major and can help avoid those fees.  

Knowing where your resources are can also help you succeed. DSU has many resources available, such as the writing center and the tutoring center. These resources are there for students to take advantage of, but many people skip out on them, Hill said. 

“I think there is a perception that if you ask for help, you’re stupid or you’re an idiot,” she said. “But that’s not the case. We pay for these services with your student fees, so they literally work for you, if you think about it. You’re paying these tutors to help you, but yet you’re not utilizing them because of a perception?”

Hill also advises students to join or form their own study groups. It’s helpful to ask your professors about study groups so they can help you find one or help you form one. It is important that you get to know your classmates as well. Not only can you use them as a resource to help study for classes, but your classmates will most likely be your future colleagues and can help you network in the workforce, Hill said.

She also emphasized getting to know oneself. To know oneself is to know your strengths and limitations, when and where you study best, what’s best for your health, budget and more.

There are a lot of distractions in the fall semester, and as a result, it can sometimes be more challenging than spring semester to some. Madison Brostrom, a general education academic adviser, said there are many other activities in the fall. Whether it’s homecoming, football season or hunting season, there are many distractions that can get in the way, so it’s important that you maintain a balance between studies and fun.

On top of the transition from high school to college, for some, it will be their first time living in a new place or without their parents.

“Homesickness is a very real thing,” Hill said. “You are not alone. We have all gone through these feelings and all tried to adapt and adjust.”

When being away from home gets hard, Brostrom said students should remember to have fun. Get involved and find something you enjoy. It can be school activities, a club, or a fun class, like rock climbing. Brostrom also said to make sure to get enough sleep, which is something that college students often forget.

Living with roommates is yet another challenge to face. When it comes to roommates, Brazzeal recommends staying clean and avoiding passive aggressiveness. If there’s something wrong, just talk to your roommates, he said. Be up front with one another, and things will go much smoother. Your roommates can either be some of your best friends or they can be your enemies. What dictates it is how you interact with them and how you handle disagreements.

Overall, Hill advises students to find their authentic self and be true to themselves. Whatever major that may be, or whatever path it may take you down, you have to be true to you. At the end of the day, do what will make you happy, Hill said.

“Be kind to yourself, there’s just too much pressure in life already,” she said. “It is a marathon, not a race. Don’t feel like you’ve got to figure it out right now, it will come over time.”