Director of First-Year Experience Offers New Students Five Key Pieces of Advice

Walking through the Columns at Westminster is a cherished tradition. This year will mark the 10th group of new students I will witness taking part in this tradition, and I can still remember my own walk through the Columns on my first day as a Westminster student. While many aspects of that first year are still fresh in my memory, my primary recollection is a persistent feeling of trying to figure things out.

The transition to college is a big one, and the student peer mentors I work with always have a list of things they wish they had known when they were first-year students. The time passes quickly, and it can be hard to keep track of the mountain of information you encounter during your first few weeks of college.

In an effort to circumvent that mountain and skip to some of the essentials, I will use this space to provide five key pieces of advice for our new students. If you let this advice guide you, it will help you to truly make the most of your Westminster experience.

  • Start Exploring! Is there a club that sounds interesting? Pop by a meeting. Think a campus event might be fun? Show up. Curious about a campus space? Take a couple of minutes to wander in. It can be very easy to stick to dorm rooms and classes, but this is a time to get out of your common spaces. Westminster is a small campus with a lot of opportunities. More importantly, it is a welcoming place that is excited when new students pop by. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and you will find places and people that become essential to your time at Westminster.
  • Make some plans. You do not need to have everything figured out in your first year. No one does. But do you want to do an internship at some point? Maybe spend a semester abroad? It is never too early to set some goals and think about how to make the most of your time at Westminster. Again, the time passes quickly.
  • Know your resources … and use them. Westminster offers an incredible number of student support resources. From day one, you will have your peer mentors, your Westminster Seminar instructor, and your Leader Within instructor. But there are also tutors, the Student Success Center, the Learning Opportunities Center, coaches, and an endless number of Student Life services. Using these resources early and often is one of the smartest things you can do to build a foundation for a successful college career.
  • Communicate and connect. This is a small campus, and people are here to help you throughout your time at Westminster. But you have to be willing to reach out, make connections, and get to know the members of this wonderful community. Westminster will invest in you and provide you with experiences that will prepare you for your future, so the connections you begin to build now are going to matter for years to come.
  • Keep an open mind. You may not think an event, class, or experience is right for you, but allow yourself to be surprised. There’s nothing more fun than watching a student find a new passion or grow through an unexpected leadership opportunity. This is a time to grow into an even more awesome version of yourself!
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We cannot wait to welcome you to the Westminster community! We are excited to support you in your journey and witness the mark you will leave on our campus and the world.

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