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Words from the Wise
The best tips for first-year and transfer students from your peers
You’ve made it to Syracuse University. Congratulations!
As you find your way on campus, make new friends and begin classes, a support system of peer mentors and advisors across campus is here to help make the transition smoother. Here are just a few who share their top pieces of advice.
Cliff Jacobs ’14, a child and family studies major in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, is a mentor resident advisor for Shaw and Lyons halls.
- Go to class. It may seem obvious, but there will be those days that you do not want to get out of bed because you were up late the night before. Also, sit toward the front of class if you really want to learn and do well in class. It is easy to get lost in the crowd or not pay attention if you are toward the back of a classroom.
- Choose a major that interests you. Even though our parents want us all to be successful doctors or lawyers, not every one of us wants to pursue medicine or law. If you want to be a musician or a writer, do it. Find your passion and pursue it.
- The “Freshman 15” is no joke—or in my case, the Freshman 30. Eating dining hall burgers every day of the week takes a toll on your body. Eat mostly fruits and veggies at every meal and don’t forget to go to the gym!
- Venture off campus—Yes, campus is a great place to build community and friendships, but Syracuse has so much more to offer than the University. Restaurants, shops and parks all surround campus and are great places to go to when you want a little “getaway.”
Xiao Yu G’14 is a graduate student from China, pursuing a master’s degree in counseling. She is a mentor with the Connections Program offered by the Slutzker Center for International Services (SCIS).
- Don’t be afraid of making mistakes! Nobody is expected to be perfect. What matters is you learn and grow from them.
- Be adventurous and explore what Syracuse has to offer. Check the University calender and SCIS newsletter and take advantage of the events and activities on campus—eat a kind of food that you have never had before, attend a festival from a culture that you are not familiar with—an open mind starts from here.
- Walk into your advisor’s/professor’s office during their office hours and introduce yourself. The University is your resource. Remember to bring your genuineness, respect and curiosity for knowledge.
Dylan Lustig ’14, an international relations major, is a member of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Dean’s Team, a group of students who assist new students and serve as First-Year Forum mentors.
- Get involved in your surroundings. This especially means getting involved in aspects of University life that you may dislike. I’m a firm believer that the best way to change something that you dislike is by becoming involved to change it.
- Be aware of events and speakers that come to campus. We are a prominent University in this country, and because of that we have some pretty amazing people wanting to come and speak to our students. If you go to http://syr.edu/calendars, you can find a great start to being informed on what’s happening around campus.
- Finally, my third tip, and maybe the most important, is that it is never too late to give back. There are so many people dedicated to your success here. Some of them are obvious: advisors, professors, TAs, coaches, etc. … Donors, trustees, alumni and other students also all have a stake in your happiness here at SU. Give back as soon as you can so that others may find similar great experiences. Join an organization like the Student Association. Try and become an RA. Tutor some of your peers. There are so many ways to make this place better, why not start helping now?
Siara Sutton ’14, who is majoring in marketing management at the Whitman School of Management, is a mentor with the Dimensions program in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
- Step outside of your comfort zone with an open mind! Apart of having new experiences is being open to learn new things and meet new people.
- Be organized and balanced.
- Remain true to yourself and use your experiences to grow!
Chris Nemetz ’14, who is pursuing degrees in sociology and geography in The College of Arts and Sciences, is a mentor resident advisor in Lawrinson Hall.
- Take advantage of everything free. Anything from lectures to performances to the first football game that first-year students get to go to for free, there is a ton of amazing opportunity (it is also a great way to meet people).
- Put yourself out there—make sure you don’t limit yourself during your first few weeks at school. Be engaging in your residence hall; eat a meal with someone who isn’t your roommate. Make sure that through it all you are yourself because that is what is most attractive to people.
- Go to meetings and events that are offered through SU Welcome to meet new first years and transfer students. Go to club informational meetings that may not even interest you because you will meet new people and even find something new to love.
Iris Garza ’14, a psychology major with a biology minor on the pre-medical track in The College of Arts and Sciences, is a mentor with the Dimensions program in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
- Being a first generation student from Houston, my best advice to incoming Orangemen is to find your passion and excel. In regards to academics, I would highly recommend an agenda to keep track of every assignment and deadlines. With organization and time management skills, the coursework would not be as difficult. If you need any help, there are plenty of tutoring centers.
- Networking with faculty, staff, professors, guest speakers and even upperclassmen is also a nice tip I wish I had coming in my first year. It can be these individuals who can link you up with opportunities, especially careerwise.
- Coming from a small high school in Texas, I found Syracuse my home by branching out from my comfort zone. The size of the school can be a bit overwhelming, but by making new friends and familiarizing yourself with the environment, the transition will be easier. Going to the school spirit events such as football games, Home to the Dome, Orange Central and residence hall events will make your time in Syracuse enjoyable. Remember we are all here together to have fun and succeed!
Shyneice “Shy” Porter ’14 is a dual major in public relations and psychology in the Newhouse School and The College of Arts and Sciences, respectively, and is a mentor resident advisor in Flint Hall.
- Do not be afraid to make friends in your classes. Sit next to someone new and strike up a conversation!
- Take advantage of programs that take place on your floor, in your building or around campus. They are great opportunities to meet new people and explore new things.
- Make the most of your first year of college by going outside of your comfort zone. Attend general interest meetings for different organizations, go to sporting events, and reach out to the people who are here to help you (your RA, advisors, mentors). The connections you make now can last a lifetime.
For more great pieces of advice, watch this virtual student send-off hosted by Sam Edelstein, of the Office of Alumni Relations, with tips from Colleen O’Connor Bench, assistant vice president of student affairs; Carrie Abbott, director of the First Year and Transfer Program; an SU parent and alumnus; and two SU orientation leaders.