Panel asks new students, 'Now what?'

Suggestions for freshman included making monthly appointments with professors.
Junior Tristian Williams shares his college experience with a group of freshmen Thursday night at the Gaines/Oldham Black Cultural Center. The "You're Here. Now What?" event featured a panel of upperclassmen who talked about various issues fresman run into, such as partying and time management.

The Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center hosted a discussion on the college experience with contributions from a panel of students called “You’re Here. Now What?" on Wednesday.

The panel included two sophomores, two juniors and two seniors involved with the center. Panelists shared anecdotes and advice with their audience of mostly freshmen.

MU alumna Portia King led the discussion by asking students in the audience about the biggest challenges they had faced so far during the school year. Audience members cited getting involved, living off-campus, making friends and missing parents as major struggles.

Panel members noted similar struggles their freshman year and spoke about the difficulties of learning time management skills as well as adjusting academically from high school to college.

King introduced the first topic, entitled, “Involvement: It’s not mandatory but necessary," with the aid of a Powerpoint presentation.

“You don’t really have to get involved, but it’s a great thing to do, especially to meet new people,” junior LySaundra Campbell said. “My freshman year, I lived off-campus, and the way I met people was through organizations and my job.”

Some in attendance warned against joining too many organizations and advised students to choose extracurricular activities involving their majors. Campbell told students not to spread themselves too thin between school and other commitments.

With regard to classwork, senior Brittany Williams suggested sitting in the front of the class, especially in big lecture halls, as one way to develop a relationship with a professor.

“If you’re late, do not be afraid to find a seat,” sophomore Michael Simpkins said. “Do not be embarrassed. The professor is working for you. You’re paying that salary, so make sure you get the information that you need.”

Simpkins said when he is late, he makes sure to take everything he needs for class out of his backpack before walking into the classroom in order to be less disruptive.

“Utilize office hours and utilize your adviser,” sophomore LaJoyce Bogan said. “Try to set up meetings with your teachers at least once a month.”

Senior Tristian Williams said teachers might be nicer to students who meet with them during office hours because it shows they are putting forth extra effort.

Other suggestions included confronting professors with problems, keeping extra copies of important documents and learning to write a professional e-mail. King said she once sent an e-mail to a professor and accidentally began with “Hell” instead of “Hello.”

Senior Bryan Like suggested using a third party as a mediator to deal with social problems, such as conflict with a messy roommate.

Other social issues involve romantic relationships. Although school organizations can distract from studying, King said a boyfriend or a girlfriend will have the same effect.

“What you love and what’s good for you are two completely different things, and what’s good for you is your education,” she said.

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