OWL Talks

20 Things to Know for Your First Year, as Told by an Alumna

Posted by Sarah Abare '19 on Sep 19, 2019 11:26:00 AM
Sarah Abare '19

1.) Your ID is Your Lifeline to Everything in and Around Campus

It is more than a picture of you indicating that you are a student at Westfield State. It holds the power of doing almost everything around campus.

Hungry? You need it for meal swipes.

Need to finally do laundry but don’t have quarters? Swipe it to pay for the washer and dryer.

Checking out a book at the library? It’s your library card.

Heading back to your hall after classes? Better have your ID to let yourself into the building.

Off-campus and deciding to get food? Use your ID (and your Owl Bucks) to buy things off campus (and maybe even score some student discounts!)

2.) Your “A” Number is Something You Definitely Want to Remember

If you ever need anything that doesn’t require your ID – you will need your A number. Memorize it! You’ll need it for everything from peer advising check-in to housing to putting money on your Owl Bucks account (or calling home to have someone else do it – which tends to be the preferred method).


3. Find Your People

I cannot stress enough the importance of finding people who you can hang out with. College tends to be the time of finding friends that last a lifetime. Usually the first few days of moving in and getting settled is a good time to start meeting new people – leave your room door open and say hi when people walk down the hall. You and your roommate(s) can walk around together and make friends that way.

Go to on campus events – there are many different events and places to meet people – if you signed up to be a Lifetime Owl that is the perfect place to meet others, there are open mic nights, Thrifty Thursdays, and over fifty clubs on campus to meet people and get involved.

4.) Get Involved

It is so important to get involved as early in your college career as possible. Not only does it create the opportunity for personal growth, but it is also a way to add to your resume. Start out as a member in a club and then move up the ranks as you go through your college years and then take a leadership position. 

Go to the Club Fair! You can see many of the clubs available, if there isn’t one that interests you, create one!


5.) Attend Class

Always attend class – even if the professor doesn’t have an attendance policy.

Class is so important – you may not think that taking core classes are important to your degree, but they lay the foundation for your classes to come within your major(s) and/or minor(s).

You make connections with professors and other students by attending classes. Some of your closest friends will likely be from your classes. Not only are they your friends, but since you are in the same class together, you can study and do homework together.

Attending class and having a presence creates a connection with your professor. It opens the door to many opportunities across campus as well as in the professional world. They know people that can provide internships, volunteer opportunities, or jobs in your desired field of study. Showing up to class and being attentive is a sure-fire way to demonstrate your commitment and drive to succeed.

6.) Take a Variety of Classes

Sure, there are core classes you need to take across your time here, but there are so many options in each area to choose from. You should tailor your classes to your interests, both personal and career-wise. Consider taking a class outside of your comfort zone, one that you may be a little apprehensive of, who knows, you may find a new interest.

College is about self-discovery and determining where you want to end up after earning your degree. If you have a career path selected, take courses related to that career. It helps you decide if it is truly something you want to pursue further. Taking a variety of classes helps students who are exploratory (no major selected) find out where they fit and what major they want to select.


7.) Attend RA Events

Attending RA events can help you find friends and create a relationship with that RA should you need them. In addition to free food – you can participate in an activity, meet new people, and learn new things. There are constantly events happening in the halls – keep an eye out for flyers hanging and check your school email to know what is happening!

8.) Take Photos at the Globe

The Globe is a key component of the Westfield State campus. It is in the center of campus – it is common to see people taking their pictures in front of it. In September you’ll see students taking their pictures with the Globe to say, “Here I am!” to people back home. In May, you’ll see graduating seniors celebrating in their caps and gowns and taking their final Globe pictures.


9.) Connect with the Career Center

I cannot stress enough about the importance of the Career Center. It is in Lammer’s Annex – it shares a door with the Counseling Center. The Career Center is a place to visit early and often within your college career.

Don’t have a resume? – Make an appointment and they will help you!

Don’t have a major? – Go talk with them and have help deciding on a path to follow!

Looking for a job or an internship? – They have the knowledge and connections to guide you in the right direction!

Bonus Fact: As alumni, you can still use the Career Center to find careers and even volunteer your time on networking nights or career fairs for current students!

10.) Use Your Resources – Part One: Academics/Career

Academic Advising – a great place to visit in Parenzo when you need help with classes, majors, and schedules. There are peer advisors on standby to help you create a schedule in order to fulfill your personal goals as well as the required courses for the University and your specific major(s).

Reading and Writing Center – another place in Parenzo to stop by when you are writing a paper for a class. They will help you get organized, create an outline, help you with the writing, as well as proof-read it and provide suggestions!

Banacos Academic Center – This is another campus resource to be aware of. They can help you create a plan for staying on track and managing academic work. They help students with learning disabilities as well as those who need special accommodations. In this building, you can use the computer lab, register to get or become a tutor or note-taker, and even take tests with your professor’s permission.

Ely Library – It is more than just a library. It has staff that are knowledgeable in many areas of expertise and can help you narrow down exactly what you want or need – for personal or academic things. There are tables to study with peers, computers available for use, and even study rooms to book (in two-hour intervals) when you need to focus or work with a group!

Alumni Relations – You may think that you still have years to go before you become an alumnus but, time flies by so quickly! If you see an event that features alumni, make a point to stop by... it can literally change your future!


11.) Use Your Resources – Part Two: Personal

Fitness Center – We have an on-campus fitness center that is full of all types of equipment and classes for its members. There is a fee that can either be paid on your student bill, or you at the Campus Center window. You can get unlimited access to the equipment, classes, as well as fitness trainers.

Counseling Center – The Counseling Center shares a door with the Career Center in Lammer’s Annex. They can provide counseling and guidance for adjusting to school, handling life stresses, as well as personal issues. They are also in charge of Pet Therapy! They bring dogs to campus several times a month in order to help reduce stress and anxiety of students.

Public Safety – Public Safety is in the little white house on campus. Don’t hesitate to give them a call if you feel you are unsafe, need an escort somewhere om campus, or see someone in danger. Remember, it is better to see something and say something and have it been nothing, than say nothing and have it be something.

Common Goods Food Pantry – This is our on-campus food pantry for those who are struggling to make ends meet. It is open various times during the week with no questions asked when you arrive. There are also donation boxes scattered around campus if you have anything to donate.

Interfaith Center – The Interfaith Center is located on campus by Wilson Hall. They have a variety of religious services and events available all hours of the week.

12.) Get to Know Nestor

Nestor is our mascot. He is so popular around campus, especially at athletic games. He is well known for making an appearance at Homecoming and Family Weekend. Don’t forget to snag a picture with everyone’s favorite Owl!


13.) Stay Organized and Prepared

Being organized and prepared for classes and college life is important. Knowing when and where your classes are can reduce a lot of stress on the first day – so take some time and go walk to where your classes are to locate the classrooms ahead of time!

Many students are coming to live with roommates for the first time in their lives. Be sure to understand it is a process for everyone to adjust and to take it into consideration sleep schedules and study styles.

14.) Respect your Fellow Students

Respect your fellow students by being on time to classes and not being disruptive when running a little late. If you are late, take a seat closest to the door as to not walk in front of the lectern if you can help it. There are certain professors who are stricter about being late than others – so try to be on time!

Another way to respect your peers is to not be overly loud in the halls at unreasonable hours. There are special quiet hours during midterms and finals weeks in order to promote studying and learning. There are always 24/7 courtesy hours where you cannot make excessive noise, but are allowed more noise than during the quiet hours.


15.) Be Kind to the Maintainers

One thing that I learned quickly was that being kind to the maintainers and respecting them is key to living in a residence hall. The kindness aspect isn’t just saying “Hi” or “Good Morning” in the halls – it is also cleaning up after yourself and telling someone when things are malfunctioning. They appreciate being acknowledged as maintainers and not as janitors, or someone who cleans up after you. They are an important part of our community.


16.) Be a Considerate Roommate

It is important to remember that it is likely neither you nor your roommate(s) have lived with others before. It is a transition period and an adjustment in order to live with other people. Be sure to talk about room rules such as when you like to go to bed, study, etc. in order to come up with a plan. Be respectful of your roommate and do your best to live together. Ultimately, some roommate matches do not work out, in that case, contact Residential Life (in Scanlon Hall) to discuss further options.

17.) Remember to Call Home

Leaving for college is not only stressful on you, but as well as to the people you leave behind at home. It is important to call or text every now and again to reduce their worry and anxiety to make sure you are still in one piece and adjusting well. Hand-written letters are such a keepsake to send home, and whoever receives it will cherish that you took the time and effort to do it.


18.) Visit Stanley Park

Stanley Park is an iconic place for Westfield State students to go to hike the trails, have picnics, feed the ducks/geese, and play Pokémon Go. It is such a beautiful park with so many things to see, places to visit, and pictures to be taken. Be sure to go for a walk to see this beautiful place.

19.) “You all start out with a 4.0 – see how close you can keep it there”

During my orientation someone giving a presentation was discussing GPAs and the importance of maintaining grades. They said something that really stuck with me that day as well as the entirety of my college career” “You all start out with a 4.0 – see how close you can keep it there.” This really turned on a light bulb for me and helped me maintain my grades and focus even life wasn’t making it easy. It almost turned grades into a competition for me to keep my GPA as close to a 4.0 as possible. In the end it all worked out, and I ended up graduating summa cum laude with two degrees.UnderGradCommencement2019_070-4K

20.) Have Fun, But Remember Why You’re Here

It is important to have fun in college, no doubt about that. However, you need to remember the reason you are here: to get a degree and put yourself in the one-third of the population that have bachelor’s degrees.

Find yourself, discover new things, make long-lasting friendships, have fun, but be sure that your goal is to gain the education and training you will need to succeed after college.

Topics: Things college freshmen need to know, new students, First Year

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