It’s time freshmen! This Saturday you will all be receiving your roommates for your first year of college. This can either be stressful and scary or you can make it extremely fun and exciting! I would personally go with the fun option. College is a great time to start fresh by meeting new people and having new experiences to make new memories. Why not start your new memories with your roommate?
Your first roommate can make or break your college life– especially dorm or social life. My freshman year I ended up with a roommate who did not have a ton in common with me. We had separate friends, took different classes and did not hang out on weekends. Even so, now nearly three years later we are still in constant contact. Just because you and your roommate are different, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get along or won’t have a great bond.
So, now when you get the name and other information about your newly assigned roommate, use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or any other social media to get to know them. Talk about who is bringing what, what majors you are interested in, talk about your favorite music, books, television shows, or restaurants. Find out where they went to school and what they were involved in. If you live close to each other, meet before move in day! By doing all of these things moving in will not be a scary event with a total stranger, but rather moving in with a good friend. Our generation has so much information at it’s fingertips and it makes communication easier than it ever has been before! Use it to your advantage and make your transition all that much easier.
If for some reason you do all of these things and you still are unable to make a great connection then there are other options. You should never feel stuck in a bad situation, and as hard as the staff at Winona State tries, a perfect match is not always made. In these situations there are people to talk to and changes can be made. If you are one of these people, then the Housing Office is where you will either need to go or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org. But give it a chance before you make any big changes! I think you will find that a random roommate may be one of the best things that could happen to you in college!
So, freshmen remember these dates:
So I guess all that there is left to say is Welcome to Winona State University! We can’t wait to see you this fall and I hope that you enjoy every second of your college experience with us!
It is the end of the semester and, as with all endings, it is time to say our goodbyes. There are see-ya-next-years for friends returning to hometowns for the summer and congratulations-and-good-luck for those who are graduating. There are so-longs to classes while stressful exams get good-riddances! In just a few days I will be saying farewell to the city of Winona but the nostalgia won’t last long—because I am going to Italy!
It’s ciao and buongiourno (“hello” and “good morning” in Italian) that are on the tip of my tongue. I am traveling to Florence, Italy as part of a travel study group called Dante in Italy. Two professors, ten other students and I leave this Sunday for a two week trip; we’ll spend most of our time in Florence, but we’ll also be taking day trips to Venice, Piza, Ravenna, and Sienna. I am so excited!!! We are going to tour the city of Florence, go to some amazing art museums and majestic cathedrals, as well as experience authentic Italian food including a gelato festival that is held just a few blocks from our apartments.
Now, this is a travel study program so it has an academic portion– well, it’s actually the whole reason we’re going! While we are there we will be reading Dante’s Inferno because Dante was very influenced by the city and politics of Florence when he wrote the epic poem. Our assignment is to find connections between the Inferno and all the places we visit, which we will discuss as a group over our evening meals. We also have to write blog posts about Dante, the Inferno and our experience in Italy in general. Since I have been writing this Admissions blog for months now, this will be a cinch for me. My new blog is called Hello—wherever you are! and if you’re interested in finding out more about my trip, check it out!
So I’ve gone on for two paragraphs now about my totally awesome trip, are you feeling a bit jealous?? Well, this easily could be you!!! At WSU, opportunities for international travel abound; every year there are numerous travel study trips that go to distant places such as Australia, Costa Rica, and London just to name a few. On a typical travel study, you’ll spend two or three weeks abroad, have some amazing adventures and earn up to 3 credits in the process. I am earning 3 credits for Eng. 325, a class that counts as elective for my major . That is the same as taking a 16 week course here in Minnesota!
If only a few weeks isn’t enough time for you (and really, two weeks isn’t nearly enough time to see everything there is to see in Florence, let alone all of Italy!), you could schedule to study abroad for a semester or even an entire year. During a study abroad semester, you will actually enroll in a partner university and take several classes there. I actually have a friend who is studying abroad in South Korea right now and she is learning so much and having a great time. If you are interested in traveling abroad while in attending WSU, the International Programs Office has all the information you need to get started.
Traveling to another country is such an incredible experience; this will be my second time abroad (I went to visit my best friend in South Korea after I graduated high school) and I cannot wait! Yes, it can be daunting to go to a place where you don’t speak the language or understand the customs and yes, there is the expense to consider, but it is so worth the social discomfort and budget-tightening. You will learn so much about the world and gain insight into your own culture and identity—and isn’t that the point of college anyway?
It’s everyone’s favorite time of year, when stress levels rise in inverse proportion as finals draw nearer and on top of that its registration for fall courses! Usually, I actually enjoy registering for new classes; I like figuring out my schedule and the anticipation of new classes reminds me that learning is fun. But at this moment, I myself am writing in a state of anxiety as I wait impatiently for my window to open and hope against hope that there is a seat left for me in the classes I need.
Let me back up and explain the registration process a little bit though.
For all you high school seniors who have decided to attend Winona State this fall, your registration process is a bit different than mine right now. Entering freshmen all come to WSU on assigned days either in April or June and the entire second floor of the library is turned into an advising center. You will meet with a professor (usually someone in your declared major) who will pretty much walk you through the process He or she will help you decide which classes to take and show you how to use the online program. As freshmen, you’ll definitely take ENG 111 College Reading & Writing or CMST 191 Intro to Public Speaking your first semester but then you get to choose which general education credits to start tackling first.
In the following semesters, you’ll meet with your assigned advisor privately (though some departments, including the English Department, have group advising sessions). The most basic purpose of going to an advising session is to receive your access code which you need to log in and register. But advising sessions can offer so much more; faculty advisors can help you decide which classes to take, give advice about the difficulty or structure of particular classes, and make sure that you are taking the necessary courses to fulfill your major or minor. I usually look at all the classes available and plan my schedule well in advance so I don’t typically need much help but talking to English professors about class topics gets me so excited for my upcoming classes. (I told you I LIKE registration!)
Now, you may, like me, have decided on all your courses, creating this perfect schedule, and gotten your access code and that part was fun. NOW the dreadful waiting period begins while you count down the hours for your registration window to open. The registration windows, that is the time slots when your account become active, are staggered throughout the week and privileges those students with more credit hours under their belts. Windows for Senior-status students typically open on Monday, then Juniors on Tuesday, Sophomores on Wednesday-Thursday, and finally Freshmen on Thursday-Friday. You incoming freshmen are lucky (for your first semester that is)—you actually enroll for classes before anyone else does! While this system is obviously necessary for seniors who need to take certain courses in order to graduate on time, for underclassmen this spells agony as the days pass and there more potential that the classes you want will be filled by the time your registration window opens.
But don’t let the anxiety about not getting in and fear of falling behind get to you. Even if a class you want does fill up before you can register, you can get on the wait list or potentially blue card in, which means getting special permission from the professor to be added to the class. If neither recourse works out for you, you just have to face facts and try to take that particularly popular class next semester, when you will have more of a head start on THOSE incoming students!
P.S. By the time this blog was posted, my registration window opened. One of the classes I wanted was full but the others still had several seats left which I quickly claimed. Registration Week 2013—SUCCESS!
Choosing the right major for you is no easy task. The best way to begin narrowing down interest areas is to look at what you’ve done so far. You may look back at your high school years and be happy with the classes you took and the success you’ve had. You might also see successes and accomplishments that don’t necessarily include academic work. Either way, your past is a good place to start looking for what you are interested in as far as deciding on a major. This decision may be one of the most difficult because people often think that once they decide, they are stuck with that choice. The relieving truth is that this decision is not set in stone forever. Many of my fellow classmates, as well as myself have changed majors once, twice, maybe even three times. This flexibility is important to keep in mind when thinking about what you want to major in here at Winona State. It will make the decision less stressful for you, as well as helping you keep the door for opportunity open.
At Winona State we are lucky to have a great group of people working in the Advising Services Office to make things a bit easier in this situation where you are trying to figure out what direction you might take with your education. Advising Services staff works day in and day out to help you make good choices about courses and declaring a major, among their many other great resources. The best part is that all of these helpful services are available for free. I have personally experienced great results in utilizing the tools they have available to all Winona State students. If you are unsure of what direction to tailor your education or you just have a question about classes in general, I recommend scheduling to meet with somebody in the Advising Offices. I promise, you will not regret it.
Aside from advising, you can find more help by learning about the different departments on campus. Every department’s web page can be accessed through the university web site. On the department website you will find all kinds of great information including an overview of what the department is about, outlines of what you will be studying and information about the faculty in each department. This is a great resource if you are particularly unsettled by thoughts of the curriculum included in certain majors. A source, which I find goes hand in hand with the department itself, is talking to other students that are involved within the departments you feel interested in. By talking with students you may get different perspectives on the department from students currently going through the coursework of that department. Learning from your peers is extremely important in college and talking to students about the departments is part of that. Unlike high school, the people you will eventually end up taking most classes with will be the students expressing the same educational interests as yours. What better way to meet other students is there than to talk about common interests?
Although Winona State has incredible resources for helping you choose the right major for you, don’t feel like you are behind if you are unsure of what major you want to earn. I think one of the first things I felt when starting at Winona State was that I felt behind, because I began my freshman year without any sort of idea as to what major I wanted to declare. Which is completely understandable for first year students. Deciding on what major you want to declare can be rough for some people because the opportunities vary widely. Not only was I unsure of which major I wanted, but when I chose my major the first time around, I ended up changing my mind and did a complete 180 degree turn from my original decision. College is a great chance to explore new areas that may not have been available to you in your high school. So don’t be uneasy if you aren’t sure at this moment what you want for your major; most college students end up changing their minds anyway so use your uncertainty to explore new opportunities. The best way to do this is to attack your General Education courses and maybe you’ll find you perfect major within them!
– Alex Russell
Hey–guess what!!! This Friday, Phillip Phillips of American Idol 2012 fame will be at WSU! You may know his song “Home;” it has been on the radio for several weeks now. The show is sold out but luckily my friends & I got our tickets almost two weeks ago. It is going to be so fun! I love concerts; I’ve been to Warped Tour three times, seen Owl City twice, and saw LMFAO at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, WI to name just a few. But I haven’t been to a concert in months (daily classes and a lack of wheels, not to mention funds, makes going to concerts kinda difficult) so I am very excited, especially since this is my first time going to a concert at WSU. Last year I did not attend because it was a country band called Elenowen and I simply draw the line at country music.
The Phillip Phillips concert is this year’s big Spring Concert, an annual event sponsored by the University Programming Activity Committee. The members of this student organization coordinate the entire event: contacting musicians, advertising, selling tickets and setting up the venue. They do a tremendous amount of work and I know that I really appreciate it as student because they bring the music right to me. Tickets are cheap—only $10!—while concert tickets typically run upwards of $50 what with all the extra venue fees and taxes. Also, there isn’t the expense and hassle of driving to the venue because the Spring Concerts are right on campus in the McCown Fieldhouse.
The Spring Concert is probably the largest event UPAC that organizes but they also bring magicians and comedians, and other performers, including Chris Carter, Adam Grabowski, and George Watsky, to perform in Somsen Auditorium. They also have Grocery Bingo, where you play bingo for grocery prizes, $3 Bowling night at Westgate Lanes, and $3 movie nights at the Winona 7 theater downtown. If you are looking to get out of Winona for a day, watch for the UPAC bus trips to the Cities to attend baseball games, watch plays at the Orpheum Theater, and shop at Mall of America.
Does that sound like we have a lot of fun at WSU? You bet we do! The University Programming Activities Committee is an integral part of student life on this college campus. Check out UPAC’s official WSU page or their Facebook page for all their upcoming programs and past events
So I’m from Wisconsin, but I have to say Minnesota, what’s up with this weather?!? It’s the end of March and we’ve all go the mindset that the cold dark winter is behind us while sunny spring days are up ahead. Some days, it really does feel like spring is just around the corner; the air is warmer and the sun is shining but then it seems as soon as I think about putting my boots and winter coat away—Oh, just kidding! Here are ten inches of snow! Minnesota, you are cruel, cruel I tell you!!!
I guess the lesson here is that if you live in Minnesota, be prepared for everything, weather-wise and otherwise. That’s all well and good but, you may be thinking, where are you going to put all that potentially necessary stuff in a notoriously tiny college dorm?!? 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:
Even if you don’t decide to loft your bed (which is an excellent way to gain extra floor space) you can still store a lot of stuff under it. I used three long, flat bins to store all my spring & summer clothes during the winter and then turned it into winter storage when the weather grew warm again.
This is an easy way to add extra storage space. In my closet, I used several milk crates stacked on their sides in mine to store bedding, towels and other supplies.
Hanging up most of your clothes in the closet will save you space in your dresser drawers. Putting up 3-M hooks on the back of the door or elsewhere around your room is a great way to keep coats within easy reach and let towels dry after showering.
Re-purposing shoe boxes as drawer dividers is a cheap, eco-friendly way to stay organized. I save all my shoeboxes (my mom would say I have a problem—but hey, you never know when you might need a box!) and use them in my dresser to make it easy find socks, underwear, make-up, and jewelry.
Bulletin boards are a great way to de-clutter desktops and display photos but they can also be used to store necklaces, thus eliminating space-consuming jewelry trees. I hang all my necklaces up a bulletin board where they are in easy reach and kept from getting tangled.
The second key piece of advice I have is don’t bring things that you don’t really need:
Sorry! I am an English major so I understand your pain, but those beloved books will only take up space. Bring only a few of your very favorite books though honestly, you probably won’t have time to read them. If you do have time for pleasure reading, you can simply check books out from the Winona Public Library which is only a few blocks from campus.
This one calls for the same logic as above; you simply don’t have the space to store stacks of cds. Instead, put all your music on your computer and/or iPod and listen to songs that way.
The front desks in all the residence halls have vacuums available for students to check out. They also have pots and pans so if you want to do any baking these items are available. A small frying pan and quart-sized pot for macaroni are useful but you’ll most likely eat your main meals in the cafeteria.
There some 90 printers across campus, including the dorms, that WSU students can use for free. So why would you bring a big bulky printer and pay for all that ink and paper??
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.
College life is busy (or at least mine is anyway) and while that fact makes the life of a college student challenging and fun, it can also make it hard to maintain relationships with people from high school. Even with all of the technology that allows for such easy communication, the hardest part is finding the time to keep in touch. I know this sad fact only too well. Last weekend, I realized that I hadn’t talked to my best friends from high school in weeks so I made a point to write them all emails and just find out how they were doing. For each of them, so much has happened since we last saw each other for a day during Winter Break and I feel awful for not trying harder to stay connected to their lives.
That’s the thing, though, when you are in high school you think that you’ll always have that same close friendship that you shared but it doesn’t quite work like that once the graduation caps have been tossed.
You’ll spend one last summer together, hanging out nearly every day and staying up late, laughing and talking about the past and about the future until it all blends together at 2am in a temporal kaleidoscope. But then in the fall, instead of returning to familiar hallways, you all go your separate ways and start leading separate lives and when you don’t see each other every day at school anymore and you are excited about starting your new life and making new friends it can be difficult to maintain that familiarity with each other’s personal lives. This is what happened to me when I began college: my friends went to different colleges, Hannah to UW-Eau Claire; Lizzy to UW-La Crosse and now Mid-state Technical College; Bomie attended UN-Las Vegas but she’s currently studying abroad in China, while I went to Winona State. I’d see snatches of their lives on Facebook, snapshots of my friends with so many people I didn’t know and places I’d never been. On rare occasions Hannah, Lizzy and I would all be home at the same time and would catch up over lunch together, but it wasn’t the same sharing of experiences. It was filling each other in on things we’d missed.
Now I am not saying that it is impossible to keep your old friends from high school, quite the opposite. You’ve probably all heard that relationships take work and it’s no different for friendships; you can keep your high school friends but you will have to work harder at it. Technology IS a great way to stay in touch, whether you text, email, post on Facebook, or Skype. And there is always the possibility for face-to-face meetings too whether that is over school breaks or visit each other’s college for a weekend. Last year, I visited Hannah in Eau Claire and we had a lot of fun. I was also able to meet her new friends which made me feel more connected to her new life. Ultimately, as your new life in college begins it doesn’t mean your old friendships have to end but they will change and you will need to put more effort into them, as I have been reminded again only too recently.
So it’s pretty much mid-semester and all you high school students are closing in on graduation in just a few short months. You’ve probably known that you would be attending WSU for months but maybe you’ve forgotten what it’s like since your last campus visit. Maybe you’re desperate to get out of high school and find out what college is really like. At least, that’s how I felt during my second semester of senior year. When I was stuck in Government class, my mind drifted toward daydreams about moving into the dorms and walking through the courtyard to class so I took every opportunity I could get to visit Winona. One of those opportunities was Pals Weekend.
Pals Weekend is an event that WSU puts on every year for admitted students to do exactly that–discover what college is really like. High school students get to come for an overnight stay in a dorm of a host student (high school students and host students are both called “Pal”—thus the name Pals Weekend) and then attend class with the host Pal on Monday morning. I had a lot of fun when I went; I stayed in Lourdes Hall and followed my Pal to her Speech class. I ate in the cafeteria and enjoyed a mentalist performance sponsored by UPAC. Ok, so it isn’t exactly like real college life—the weekend does have a structure to it and high school Pals are required to check-in at the events—but in our evening free time, my Pal and I just hung out and talked. She was very friendly and answered all my questions about going to college, which really helped me feel more prepared.
Then the following year, I got to be that person, that voice of reassurance and welcome, for someone when I volunteered to be a host. It was another fun weekend and my Pal and I shared many interests in music, theater, as well as both being English majors. I still see my Pal around campus sometimes and she is doing really well here.
This year, I am helping with Pals weekend again, but this time as an Ambassador. I am helping to organize the event which will be held on Sunday, March 10th- Monday, March 11th. You can register online or through the mail but sign up soon! The deadline for registration is March 4th. I really encourage you to come to Pals weekend; it’s a great experience where you can learn a lot about how being in college works and just begin to feel more comfortable here, the place that will soon be your new home.
Winona, MN may be a small Midwestern town but it has a reputation as something of a cultural center. The reputation is, in part, thanks to the Frozen River Film Festival held annually at the end of January. People come from all over to see critically acclaimed documentaries and attendance has tripled since the festival began in 2006 according to an article in the Winona Daily News.
My mother and her friend Judy were two of those people traveling toward Winona on Jan. 26th and we spent the weekend moving in and out of darkened auditoriums with flickering screens. As a WSU student, I was able to see all the films for free; I went to the documentaries Shakespeare High, Numb, and I AM. Shakespeare High was an inspiring film about a theater festival held every year in southern California where high school students perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and compete for trophies, titles, and glory—not unlike going to State for athletics or Solo/Ensemble. It was amazing to the talent the students possess and the ways in which theater and an arts education changed their lives, including providing an escape from gang violence and empowerment to go on to college. Numb was a much darker picture about a man who decided (under the guidance of his physician) to stop taking his anti-anxiety medication. It was shocking to see his decline within a mere six months and raised serious questions about mental health care, pharmaceuticals, and depression. Though it too raised some difficult questions and delicate topics, my favorite film of the weekend was I AM. It was fascinating to follow director Tom Shadyac on his journey to discover what is wrong with the world and what we can do about it. The film walks a tightrope between the cutting edge of science and spiritual, semi-mystical philosophy but when those two seemingly fundamentally opposite systems intersect and meld into one another is where it get really interesting.
I can’t say this enough– the Frozen River Film Festival is a really fantastic event. I’ve had so much fun both years I’ve gone and I’ve been introduced to documentaries that I probably wouldn’t have discovered on my own. These films provide new ways to look at the world around me and make me think critically about the issues in our American culture. You may think that this sounds boring but really, is there a better way to spend a snowy Saturday than staying indoors and watching movies? And with FRFF you an even learn something in the process, because who says education must occur only in the classroom?