Words of Wisdom

What you should know going into your first year of college

Starting college can create a range of emotions, from excited to scared, and everything in between. In order to have the best first year possible, we asked some students what they wish they would have known going into their first year at DBU!

Get plugged in!

Getting involved right away in student organizations, campus clubs, and a local church is the best way to find friends and fight the homesickness that may come in the first few weeks of college. So the first week be sure to get out there and begin visiting some places.

One great way to be connected is to consider joining Greek Life at DBU and participate in Rush Week, which is held in October. Senior Wayne Briggs, who is president of one of our Christian fraternities, gave this piece of advice. “Looking back at my first year of college,” he explained, “and I really wish that I would have known how important it is to value every second I get to spend with the people I care about. College is a special time; cherish it!”

Get a planner – write every assignment in it

If you are not a planner at heart, this may seem unnatural for you, but you need to get out your syllabi and a calendar and begin listing every assignment that is due.

Anna Catherine Bradley, sophomore majoring in Criminal Justice and Public Relations, advises students of a few ways to stay on top of the business of life. “The more involved I get on campus, the harder it is for me to remember all of my upcoming assignments, appointments, and events. But, effectively using my planner is incredibly helpful for me, because it encourages organization and holds me accountable in my intentional choices! Thankfully, I don’t ever have to miss a beat… or an assignment! Go get a planner and USE IT!”

Find a church by the end of first semester

The DFW area is filled with church options—from large to small and every size in between. But don’t let that amount of choices overwhelm you. Instead, take some time your first semester to visit churches with your friends and see what becomes home for you and where best you can serve. And if you can find that spot by the end of the first semester, then get plugged in. We all need a church home, and finding one sooner rather than later is so helpful for your spiritual walk.

Jordan Utash, a junior Camp and Sports major, had a few pieces of advice to share about her church experience. “One of the best parts of my time at DBU has been getting plugged into a church,” she said. “It is so important to find the church that God has for you. Once you find it, commit to getting plugged in right away, and find a good source of community there.”

Get rest and don’t spread yourself too thin

Living at a university means that there are countless numbers of meetings, gatherings, and activities. It is easy to want to get involved in every single one, but you will wear yourself out this way.

After trying different activities, narrow it down to 2-3 and dive all into them. Senior sociology and biblical studies major Sara Weatherly suggests, “During your freshman year, it's easy and fun to say yes to a lot of opportunities. Find out what you are passionate about and really enjoy doing, but don't forget that God created us with a need for rest!”

Build relationships with your professors and your roommates

For extroverts and introverts alike, building relationships can be difficult, especially when you are always on the go. However, if you plan to take some extra time here or there and grab lunch with a friend, coffee with a professor, or a quick catch-up conversation with a roommate, it will help you so much to feel at home.

Sophomore political science major Sidney Carter advice, “I think it’s important to get to know your roommates because it will create the space for deeper friendships and make living together more than just a shared place to rest. Alongside this, get to know your professors because they are all knowledgeable in their respective fields and have such great biblical foundations.”

Go to class and use your on campus resources

Of course, you want to have fun at college, but you are here to get an education. It is crucial to always to go class and use on campus resources. For example, DBU offers free tutoring for every department and an on-campus Writing Center to help you regardless of your skill level.

Friona Melo, a sophomore studying studio art advised, “It is very important to get enough sleep and go to your classes! If you skip, you will miss days of valuable information that might be helpful for your assignments, exams, etc. Besides, skipping is a super hard habit to break, once you convince yourself once, it becomes easier to do it over and over again!”

Don’t study in your room

Unfortunately, studying in your room can make it easy to avoid studying. As soon as you crack open your book, you become distracted.

So when possible, try to find a great spot (here is an article for some options) and get to work! Sophomore nursing student Helen Schlenker reflected, “When I would study in my room, all of the sudden taking a nap, going to grab food, or calling a friend became a suddenly urgent task. I would suggest going to the library, the coffee shop, or even on a bench outside to make your study time more effective.”

Go on at least one study trip while you are at DBU

DBU has unique courses available that allow you to travel in the US and abroad. Does it get much better than that? Don’t miss out on these opportunities and plan to sign up for one or more of these courses while you are at DBU.

“I had the privilege of traveling with a group from DBU to our nation’s capital,” said Jordan Whicker, senior biblical studies major said. “It was astonishing how much each professor knew about seemingly small monuments, and it was amazing to see how our faith influenced every interaction that we had on the trip. You only have a few years, so get out, be adventurous, and learn as much as possible.”

Hang out at DBU on the weekends

Another great way to get involved at DBU is to stay on campus instead of going home each weekend. The temptation to do so is common your first semester, but I promise you will not regret the weekends you stay on campus.

Senior Camp and Sport major JJ Ortiz suggests, “Hanging out on the weekends at DBU honestly gives a chance at the typical college memories. During the week everyone is usually busy with homework or other commitments to student organizations that it’s hard to hang out sometimes. But on the weekends everyone is free and Dallas is only a 20 minute drive, if that. DBU on the weekends is easily one of the best opportunities to make memories with your friends.”

Avoid eating alone

Unless you are that person, we all hate showing up to the cafeteria and not seeing anybody we know. So the tendency is to grab a to-go box and take off. Don’t do it!

Take a risk and sit with someone new, and you might just meet one of you lifelong best friends this way! Sophomore Biblical Studies major Josh Green said, “The caf was one of my favorite parts of my freshman year. My roommates and I went every morning, which gave me the opportunity to get know them better and meet new people.”

Written by Helen Schlenker

Helen Schlenker is a member of University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.