Orientation Week might be over but there are still a few things you can do to prepared for the beginning of classes. This first week can be a pretty confusing as a freshman. You hear so much information all at once and it can be hard to retain it all. If you find yourself feeling a bit lost, this list can help you find your way so you can start off the year with a solid foundation. So with classes right around the corner, prepare yourself with this helpful checklist.
And, finally, are you excited for the year yet? Good! You’re especially excited now that you are well prepared and have all your questions answered, right?
Just remember: Part of being a college student is becoming independent and figuring things out on your own (even if you have to make a few mistakes along the way). Don’t be afraid to ask questions and use your resources! If you have any more questions about this list or even something not mentioned, leave a comment below and we will point you in the right direction!
You are standing in front of your bedroom closet, then you turn to look at your desk covered in papers and knickknacks and the walls hung with photos and posters before glancing across the floor that is strewn with random objects you had forgotten you even owned but are now sentimental to you. And as you gaze upon all your possessions, you wonder “Where do I even begin to pack for college??”
Is this scene ringing any bells for you? Well, that is how I felt, at least, when I was preparing to go to college, leaving behind the bedroom I’d called my own for almost 18 years and all its memories of childhood. Whether you are struggling with nostalgia or not, moving is such a hassle (I know, I’ve done it 5 times now) and you might be tempted to bring as few boxes with you as possible. But the reality is that you had better be prepared for everything– weather-wise and otherwise.
This is especially if your parents live several hours away (as mine do) since it isn’t so easy to run home and grab your winter coat, for example, when the weather turns cold disturbingly early. That’s all well and good but, you may be thinking, where are you going to put all that potentially necessary stuff in a college residence hall room?!? The key is to maximize the amount of space you do have and keep everything organized so you can find it easily.
This is what I have learned:
The second key piece of advice I have is don’t bring things that you don’t really need:
You’ll also want to coordinate with your roommate so that you don’t end up with two mini-fridges, two microwaves, floor lamps etc. Talking to your roommate before you actually move in is always a good idea—it makes sharing close quarters so much less awkward! Living in the residence hall is a fun challenge; this is just my advice to help your experience be more fun and less challenging by being prepared for everything.
It seems like the beginning of fall semester is still so far away, but you should start looking for your textbooks now so you’ll be prepared for the first day of class.
Here’s how to get started:
1) Find out what books you need.
Well, this is an obvious first step but knowing where to look perhaps isn’t so self-explanatory. To find the books required for your classes, go to the WSU Bookstore and select 2014 Fall Semester from the “Select A Course” drop-down menu. Then scroll through the list of departments and courses to find each of your classes, then click on them to view the list of books you need.
2) Buy your books.
New books are fresh, crisp, free of any markings and are stocked and ready for you to pick up at the WSU bookstore. However, if you aren’t hankering for that new book smell and don’t mind a little highlighting, used books are an excellent way to save some cash.
Here’s where to find some deals on used books:
Before you buy:
This Friday, we as a country celebrate our history of political independence and our desire to govern ourselves as we see fit. In a way, the 4th of July is a foreshadowing of your personal independence day that is swiftly approaching—that is, the day you move in at WSU.
Clearly, independence is a wonderful thing—I love my independence and couldn’t move back into my parents’ house (Sorry, Mom & Dad!)—but you should be careful not fall into these traps and temptations that arise when you are given your much anticipated freedom.
1. You Don’t Have a Curfew
In college, there is no one to say you must be home on school nights by a certain time. You can stay out until 2am if you want to, or even say to hell with sleep and pull an all-nighter. However, a good night’s sleep—and moreover, a consistent sleep schedule– is important for your health. Lack of sleep can negatively affect your attention span, memory, mood, physical performance and even lead to obesity, diabetes and higher susceptibility to infections. Campus life is busy and, of course, you don’t want to miss a minute of the fun but do yourself a favor and get some sleep so you can fully enjoy it.
2. You Can Eat Whatever, Whenever
Without parents around, you can decide to eat pizza for breakfast, get ice cream for dessert every night and never let anything green touch your plate. But it’s important to get good nutrition and limit portion sizes –especially if you are hoping to avoid the Freshman 15. Step out of the line for burgers and fries once in a while and head over to the salad bar for a healthy alternative.
3. You Don’t Have to Go to Class
College, unlike K-12 education, isn’t a government requirement and no one will come after you for skipping classes. Some professors may take role every day and factor attendance into your grade, but others won’t. While skipping a class offers short term benefits–an extra hour of sleep, an early start to the weekend, avoiding a boring lecture—in the long term, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. There is a strong correlation between going to class and achieving a high grade. If you attend class regularly, you will understand the material better, can ask questions and get to know your professor which will help you make contacts and get letters of recommendation.
4. You Don’t Have to do Homework or Study
The same logic applies here: no one will make sure your homework gets done or that you study for exams. College classes may not have homework to turn in every day but they usually have hefty reading assignments and major papers or exams that can make or break your grade. And don’t think that you’ll be able to leave it all to the last minute—procrastination only leads to late night cram sessions that leave you with a half-assed attempt, a potentially passing grade and a weakened immune system. If you don’t do the required work as it is assigned, you’ll find yourself floundering in the class, a situation that definitely isn’t worth a 12 hour Netflix marathon or a weekend of partying with your friends.
5. You Don’t Have to Clean Your Room
Now that you’re out of your parents’ house, there is no one to complain if you never make your bed, drop clothes on the floor, let the trash pile up and forget what a vacuum looks like. This is especially true if you live in a single room. While cleaning and organizing you room does require some effort, it can help you feel more focused and less stressed as well as avoid any health code violations.
6. You Can Buy Whatever, Whenever
Up until now, your parents have probably had some say in how you spend your money, but once you turn 18, legally you are on your own. Your parents can’t access your bank accounts or track all your purchases. But this is not the time to get a giant tattoo or the latest Apple gadget—you should be saving your money for basic needs, school supplies and textbooks. You are also likely receiving credit card offers in the mail and all I can say is BE CAREFUL if you decide to get a credit card. It’s a good idea to start building credit early but on the other, but woe unto you if you use a line of credit irresponsibly as it can swiftly drag you down into the Pit of Despair—I mean, Debt. The WSU Financial Aid Office offers tools and information to help you manage your money.
This list may seem like a collection of juvenile excesses and since you’re adults now, you’re obviously past all that. Well, college offers you the chance to make your own choices but don’t let that freedom lead you to making poor decisions just because you don’t have any adult supervision. Yes, you are the adult now, and with that independence comes the responsibility to live with the consequences of the choices you make.
This weekend wraps up the last of the high school graduations and I just want to say congratulations to all you 2014 graduates. Graduation is an achievement to be proud of and it adds a final push to the behind the momentum building up as you eagerly look forward to registration, move-in day and your first year of college. As a Facebook group admin, I’ve been seeing posts recently about how you wish it was August already, how you can’t wait to meet new people and begin your college careers. I remember writing those posts myself three years ago; I couldn’t wait to leave Marshfield behind and start fresh.
But amidst all the excitement, I want you to think about the other thing your high school graduation marks—that this is the last summer you will have in your hometown with all your friends. This will be the last summer where everyone you know is in the same place at the same time and you are all on the same page. After you start college, you and your friends will go to different cities, your winter and spring breaks may not overlap, you’ll each get a whole new group of friends whom your high school friends won’t know and a new set of experiences they won’t relate to.
You may be thinking, “But that’s during the semester. We’ll still have our summers and it will be just like before we left.” Maybe it will be like that for you—I hope it is—but, in my experience, it isn’t so simple. Summers are filled with jobs and internships and summer classes. Before you even realize it, all your days will be accounted for and a fun weekend get-away with your BFFs keeps getting rescheduled and pushed back from June to July and then to August as mine has this summer.
So take it from someone who knows how you feel but has a little more perspective– don’t wish the days away too quickly. You may feel like you are stuck idling in neutral when you really just want to floor it but take the time to cruise around your hometown. Take in the sights, sounds, smells you’ve experienced these last 18 years because soon enough you won’t have their comforting familiarity. The same goes for your friends. Take time to see your friends, laugh and play and enjoy their company as much as you can because come fall, you won’t be seeing their faces every day in the hallways or across the lunch table. I admit it is a bittersweet realization, but an important one nonetheless, as you still have the time to make this a summer full of memories you will always remember.
The last few days I’ve spent on campus have been strange. People have been stopping me in the halls and on the streets to say “Don’t worry, we’ll stay in touch!” or “I’m really gonna miss you when you go!” I respond in kind and tell them my plans, but all the while I’m thinking “I’m not really going anywhere, am I?” Though I know logically that they’re right, it just doesn’t feel real.
This coming Friday I’m going to become a college graduate.
I’ve loved my time here at Winona State. I’ve met incredible friends, traveled to some amazing places and somehow managed to do some learning in my free-time. It’s strange to think that I’m going to have to move on from this place that has been my home for four (incredibly busy) years. When I think of the next year I still picture myself here, sitting on the couches on 3rd floor Minne and looking down over the campus that has given me so much. I picture myself standing and waving frantically to my friends down below who either wave back or duck their heads in embarrassment (much to my delight.) I picture myself waking up early so I can walk to campus in the fog and join some friends at Mugby for brunch. And I picture myself making stupid jokes to my professors who roll their eyes but secretly think I’m hilarious (seriously, I’m sure they totally do).
But I know that when the summer starts in a week there will be a flurry of activity, a lot of goodbyes that don’t feel quite real and then silence. That silence, that unknown future is what frightens me the most. However, at the same time, I feel as though I’ve done everything I can to be ready for the future. I’ve started applying to jobs and I know that in a few years I’m going back to school to get my masters in library science. I know I’m capable, and I’m confident in my ability to succeed, but I also know that before anything else it’s gonna be lonely.
So here’s my message to the people I love here, both the ones staying and my fellow graduates who are all heading in different directions; It ain’t over till it’s over. This isn’t goodbye; it’s just see you later. You’ll always be with me and yada yada every other cliché in the book. But hey, even if the words are old the sentiment is real.
I’ll see you guys on the other side. And thanks WSU. It’s been a wild ride.
On a normal day last semester, I was sitting next to my friend in Spanish class. But then my professor came in to the room and told us about an incredible travel study opportunity he was offering called the Camino De Santiago, a bike trip across the northern region of Spain. As avid bikers, my friend and I were blown away. We were dumbfounded by even the possibility of participating in an opportunity like this. Moments after the professor finished his presentation and began class, she looked over to me and said “Do you want to bike across Spain with me?” I responded with the only words that could come to someone’s mind after hearing a question like that, “Oh, hell yeah!”
I would be lying, however, if I said I had no anxieties. I made every dreaded “yeah, but” excuse in the books about why I should not go on this trip
Watch out for the “yeah, but” excuses; they have an incredible power to consume you. These kinds of excuses continued to run through my head until one day it hit me: SO WHAT?
Folks, we are young! We’re in college, a time of independence and freedom. It is now when we have this freedom and independence that we should go out and explore the world. We have a golden opportunity to go and expand our horizons, experience new cultures, make new friends and have an adventure. If I kept making excuses and had not chosen to go on the trip, the only “yeah, but” that would have remained with me would be “Yeah, but what if I had gone?”
Winona State has an incredible study abroad program for those of you who are interested in getting out and seeing the world. You can choose to spend a summer abroad, a semester abroad, or even an entire year out of the country. These experiences are open to a wide variety of majors and are always willing to accommodate for students. For those of you who cannot commit the time for a full study abroad experience, the school also offers travel study trips. These programs are typically shorter trips that range from a week up to a whole month, and they are usually offered during winter and summer breaks. In addition, these travel studies count for course credit and are a great way to cover an unfilled general education goal.
Ok, now I may call them excuses, but many questions of finances and time commitments are strong and very valid concerns. The International Programs Office is located on the first floor of Maxwell, and they are open and always willing to answer questions for worried students.
Stop in and say hello–you won’t regret it.
Most of the items on these to-do lists come down to a few key pieces of advice: take advantage of everything Winona State University has to offer, become involved, step outside your comfort zone, do something out of the ordinary and, most importantly, don’t regret a single minute of it. I hope you all embrace every moment of your college experience. I know I did, and I wouldn’t change a thing!
As spring blossoms and the bluffs surrounding our island city grow greener and greener each day, as the river and lakes melt back into flowing, playful waters and as the people of Winona start venturing out of winter’s hibernation, springtime in the city of Winona grows lively. For Winona, springtime means regaining its active, buzzing population, as cyclists, longboarders, strollers and runners fill the streets. Springtime in Winona not only basks in new-found warmth and sunshine, but also in music and art. For three days every April for the last five years, Winona has enthusiastically welcomed spring with its annual (and quickly growing) Mid West Music Fest.
Mid West Music Fest, which this year occurs April 24-26, is a community-wide festival, including over sixty regional performing artists strewn across thirteen different stages throughout Winona; as well as musician’s workshops, organized dances and the delicious food of community vendors. This is the festival’s fifth year to energize Winona, and it continues to grow in its scope of musicians and audiences alike.
Returning headliner, Caroline Smith is coming back to Winona, full force. Hot on the last leg of her national tour, Caroline Smith will enchant Winonans with another high-energy, deeply soulful, and unapologetically sassy musical experience. Smith, who frequently performs in Winona, is enthusiastic about returning to Mid West Music Fest, saying it has “more energy” with its “community and pride,” compared to larger festivals that she’s played at. It is by no mistake that Mid West Music Fest’s smaller venues create a more intimate and unified festival-going experience. She says Winonans have “overwhelming love and energy,” when she comes to play, which translates into a powerful, positive energy shared by all. “We like to sound good and be good energy leaders,” she says, speaking about how much she enjoys performing music from their new album.
Caroline Smith has shifted her sound from indie-rock featured on her Little Wind album (2011), to a nostalgic 90’s Neo-Ladysoul in her Half About Being a Woman album (2013). The new album channels smooth and heartfelt lyrics, with themes of self-acceptance and self-empowerment which manifest into feel-good music for both men and women. “It has kind of become an album of female empowerment, but I love seeing [that] the guys really get into it,” she says of the reception she has gotten from her enthusiastic fans. As a Minnesota native, Smith enjoys playing for her fellow Minnesotans–never disappointing–always ensuring to give them everything she’s got.
Other must-see regional acts include the bluesy folkster, Charlie Parr, hailing from Duluth, who was featured in a documentary film this past winter at Winona’s 2014 Frozen River Film Festival. Mid West Music Fest will also be featuring student and alumni artists from Winona State University, represented in bands Gravy Train, Jaybone Bell & The Restless Light, Jake Illika & The Heavy Set (their new EP has a heartfelt, upbeat song, “Minnesota Homegrown,” about living in Winona, paying homage to the great Mississippi) The Old Fashioneds, and The Ditchrunners, to name a few. One very valued aspect about MWMF is that the festival allows WSU students an outlet to showcase their talent and perform for a large array of audience members from near and far to enjoy.
Thoroughly organized, the fest promotes local and regional community business, vendors, artists, of which students have learned to take advantage. Students at WSU have several opportunities to win tickets, as well as options to volunteer in exchange for tickets. With over sixty bands on thirteen stages around historical Winona, to polka and barn dances, to musicians’ workshops, and film showings, Mid West Music Fest ensures that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether it is the soulful, cool, spunky energy of Caroline Smith, the bluesy, folksy authenticity of Charlie Parr, or the twang and feverish energy of Jaybone Bell & The Restless Light, all Winonans can find some music that they can genuinely connect with.
Caroline Smith plays at the Historical Masonic Temple (5th and Main) at 9:30pm on Friday, April 25. You can check out the festival’s full schedule, sponsors, descriptions of the bands and buy tickets here.