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Nine tips for incoming first-years

College is a great place to meet new people, explore your interests and learn more about yourself!

Welcome to college! Whether you were the class president or the shy bookworm in high school, you are once again the little fish in the big pond. And that is exciting! Over the next four years you will have the opportunity to start fresh and grow into whoever you want to become. 

College will, without a doubt, be a journey. As a junior, I’ve come to appreciate the independence I’ve developed. I have grown much during my first two years at Pacific, and I anticipate learning and growing even more during my next two.

I have a bit of experience under my belt, so here are nine tips to help you survive (and thrive!) during your first year away from home.

Get involved on-campus

There is a plethora of ways to get involved and meet new people at Pacific. You can join a club, rush a fraternity or find an on-campus job. I’m a member of Pacific’s volleyball team and a student copywriter for enrollment marketing at Pacific. Both positions have allowed me to meet and befriend various types of people from all across campus and the world. My experience at Pacific would not be the same without the relationships I’ve formed with my peers, my professors and the university.  

Go to class

Although it can be tempting to skip class, take my advice and just go. Many professors will include attendance credit in their final grades, so you don’t want to miss those free points. A good attendance record also informs professors that you are a committed student and care about their class. It might help you get extensions on assignments or boost your grade at the end of the semester. 

Stay organized

Whether you prefer to write things down on paper or digitally, keep track of due dates, exam dates and all other important events. Organization helps you stay on top of your assignments and alleviate unwanted stress. I track all major assignments and exams on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and use the Notes app as my weekly planner.  

Always check Canvas

Canvas is your home base for all school-related activities, so familiarize yourself with the platform and constantly check it. You can find your syllabus, access assignments, send messages and more all within this one application. Professors will often send announcements via Canvas, like cancelled classes or extra-credit opportunities. 

Ask for help

First, understand that it is normal to feel homesick or overwhelmed or just a little off at times. Discuss your feelings with a friend, a parent or someone who you trust, and reach out for more help if needed. There are many resources at Pacific, including free Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Remember, your mental health is equally as important as your physical health. 

Take time for yourself

Balancing school and a social life are by no means easy. Give yourself a break and ensure you are taking care of your mind and your body. In addition to eating, drinking water and sleeping, treat yourself to self-care and partake in activities that bring you joy. I like taking evening walks and watching the sunset at Knoles field while listening to Lizzy McAlpine.  

Use your meal plan efficiently

Since it’s mandatory for everyone who lives on campus to be on meal plan, consider using it to best benefit yourself. There are several places on campus to use them, and I recommend checking each of them out. Before using your own money to buy groceries from off campus, check if they have the items at the Grove. I like to pay for my Starbucks with meal plan and scan the app so I can rack up stars. It’s also convenient to link meal plan to Grubhub, so you can order ahead your 11 p.m. sweet potato fries craving from the Lair. 

Explore outside of Stockton

Stockton is great because there are so many cool places to explore just a short drive away. If you’re craving the outdoors, there’s Mission Peak, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park all less than 2.5-hours away. Take a day trip to the Bay or attend a professional sports game. One of my favorite memories was watching Stephen Curry play for the first time at Chase Center in San Francisco.  

Embrace the change

You are going to undergo so much change in the next four years, physically and emotionally. Looking back, I am not the same person I was when I first came to Pacific three years ago, and looking forward, I know I will leave a different person than I am now. Be open to new opinions, make your own educated decisions and discover what you truly value.  As cliché as it may sound, college is where you find yourself. 

I hope this advice replaces your worries with confidence and excitement. Enjoy the process, live in the moment and have a great first semester of college! 

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