We’re just shy of two months of classes resuming here at Dakota State, and life certainly seems like it can’t get any crazier! Especially if this is your first time away from home! How many times have we walked into an ongoing lecture, trying to see if this was our right class? How many awkward lunches have we sat alone, not quite knowing anyone around campus just yet? And oh my gosh, are dorms always this loud at night? I am a senior here at DSU, I have gone through three majors, and I certainly have learned a lot here – here are my top tips for not only surviving through this new semester, but also how to thrive!
First and foremost, you need to be enjoying yourself! No one said that university was easy! Your classes are going to be hard, and they’re only going to get more difficult and longer the longer you are in classes. You are absolutely going to have classes that aren’t going to be your particular favorite, but you need to complete for your major anyway – but if you find yourself really suffering, and not enjoying a majority of your classes, especially if they’re related to your major, there is always time, and absolutely no shame in switching your major. I came to DSU specifically for one major that I had spent my teenage years preparing for – but I wasn’t able to get through, what would have been, my senior year of classes for that major, so I needed to switch. I was very upset with this, but I also love DSU, and knew that I wasn’t going to leave here with nothing. Your advisors are advisors for a reason. They are incredibly skilled, very friendly, and more than happy to help you out with transitioning and switching some things up.
Second: Are you finding yourself alone more often than not, and aren’t the type of person that enjoys that? You have way more options than you think! Friends can be hard to make, but you are always going to find candidates around campus! Your Resident Assistants and Resident Hall Directors host events weekly for your floor – or your hall! These are amazing ways to go and meet some people that you already know you have one thing in common with! This next bit of advice might make you think I’m nuts, but TRUST me, it works wonders! When you get to your classes, and you spot someone / a group you want to be friends with, sit with them, and sit right next to them. You will at some point in the class be grouped with the people you’re sitting with, so there’s an easy conversation starter! If you sit next to someone who may be on their own, that’s an easy in as well! I have made my best of friends by just sitting next to people, or sitting waiting for people to pass by! Also, there are a plethora of clubs on campus! From business CEO clubs to game design clubs, check the online schedule, and pop by what interests you! It doesn’t matter how “late” you join, clubs are ALWAYS happy to have new members!
Third: How in the WORLD can people live on campus?! Its noisy, it can be dirty, and its crowded! Trust me, everyone knows this. But, they also build a great community! Especially the residence halls! Higbie has the amazing bubble room on the first floor, Emry and Richardson have those great lounges with several TVs and sitting areas, Zimmerman has the (albeit, still developing) lounges on each floor as well as the super comfy lounge downstairs, and so on! These are amazing spots to hang out with your dinner and find a relaxing spot. They’re built for students to enjoy! If you are genuinely having a problem with your resident halls, there are several people at your service to aid! Your Resident Assistant has gone through a minimum of two weeks of training to prepare them for what could come their way so they are your first and best contact for issues being resolved. They are students just like you, so they want their halls to be nice as well! The Resident Hall Directors on campus are also a great resource if your RA for some reason isn’t available, or you’re just more comfortable taking that extra step up. They have offices in some of the residence halls, as well as the large office in Courtyard where you’ll be able to catch one of them!
And finally, my best piece of advice, and it might be a little hard to hear, but: it is okay if you’re struggling somewhere. If you aren’t finding friends, if you’re not enjoying your classes, if you’re having roommate conflicts, you are not alone, and you do not need to be ashamed about needing help. University life can be really challenging. It can seem that everyone around you has their entire lives figured out, and you’re left floundering in open water. You are not doing something wrong, you are not broken, you are not a burden. There are resources here on campus for you. Your RA and your adviser can get you connected with on campus resources. If you need to leave for the weekend, and have the resources to do so, take that time off. Go home and visit your family if that’s something you can do. Call back home, call your friends, set up a game night with people you already know. Things will get easier, and you have people who care about you on campus. You are not alone.
University life can be crazy, and overwhelming, so I hope some tidbits of advice from a senior can help ease some tensions, and give you an idea about where to turn to next!