1. Make yourself at home. College can be stressful, so it’s important for you to feel comfortable here as soon as possible. Think about some of the comforts of home that you can transplant here. What can you bring from home that will create a comforting space in your shared room? What activities will you want to do and how can you fit these in to your schedule? The sooner UCSB feels like home, the better you will feel and the more successful you will be. If you’re not sure what activities are available on campus, ask your resident assistant (RA).
2. Hit the ground running. We know that you were fabulous in high school. But college is harder, and students who approach the fall term the same way they did in high school often do poorly. The quarter moves quickly and you will probably have more to read in ten weeks than you did in a year of high school. Don’t rely on your past successes. Instead, plan to spend two hours outside of class for every hour in class. You will finish your homework in less time than that, and the rest of the time is for studying. Go back over your readings and lecture notes several times, make outlines, create flashcards, do practice questions, and definitely do at least 2-3 drafts of any papers you turn in. These are the habits of the “A” students at UCSB.
3. Find your people. It’s important to find a group of people you connect with and with whom you like to hang out. I promise that every student can eventually find a group to connect with but it takes more work for some than others. If you are not finding them where you live or when you go out, you may need to search a little harder. I am available to help you with this if you need some pointers about different student communities and where you might meet them. Your RA can be quite helpful as well. However, it’s also important to remember that friendships take time to grow, so be patient.
4. Seek support. If you find that you are not having the best experience academically or socially, be proactive and get some support. There are lots of people and services here that are designed to help you succeed and thrive and you have already paid for them with your fees! Academically, you can go to office hours and meet with your TAs or professors, use the many services at CLAS, meet with academic advisors in both your college and major department, ask your RA for advice, or meet with me. Socially, you can improve your experience by attending campus events, joining a club, or getting a job check out your options in the Kiosk. We also have great counselors at Counseling Services who can help you work through difficult situations such as a breakup, an illness in your family, depression, etc.
5. Be safe. You are now an adult and college will provide you with more freedom than you have ever had before. While this is a good thing, it also leads to opportunities to make choices that might not be all that great for you in the grand scheme of things. Certainly go out and have fun, but use common sense and watch out for each other. If something doesn’t go well, seek support.
6. Just say “no thank you.” This means learning to say “no” to all the temptations that will pull your attention away from your studies. UCSB is located in a beautiful area and this means there is no good time to get work done. Days provide the tempting beach and sun while nights will be filled with friends and hallmates asking you to talk, watch a movie, hangout, party, etc. Even the computer and phone can become your academic enemies if you cannot ignore them to focus on your homework. Being able to say “no” is a skill, just like any other, and it’s one that gets easier with practice. Take advantage of daytime hours and getting as much schoolwork done as you can between 9am and 5pm. If you are not in class, then you should be reading a chapter, working on a paper, or visiting office hours. Then your evenings or weekends will be more open for socializing, which is important too, but should come second to academics.
7. Get involved. It is also important to say “yes” sometimes too. Students who get involved with activities outside their schoolwork tend to do better academically (as long as the time commitment isn’t overwhelming). This activity could be a club or organization, a job, a peer advising position, volunteering, an athletic team, an internship, etc. Again, the Kiosk is a great source for information about options.
8. Be adventurous. There are so many things to do here and part of your education will include taking advantage of the many wonderful opportunities our campus provides. Every night, there are performances, concerts, open-mics, films, rallies, dances, meetings, games, discussions, athletic events, etc. going on every night on campus, not to mention the rich diversity of activities available in Goleta and Santa Barbara. Become an avid reader of the fliers and posters you’ll find around campus. In addition, the Daily Nexus and the Santa Barbara Independent will include articles or ads about the week’s activities, and the “Weekend Spotlight” can be found every week on UCSB’s main webpage (www.ucsb.edu) under “events.” When you find something you like, write it in your planner (a must-have item for any college student) so you won’t forget.
9. Step it up. College is harder than high school. It’s supposed to be. You will have more reading, more writing, and more responsibilities and it may take you some time to get good at all of them. It can be difficult, but it’s time to step it up. There are lots of people and resources available to help you do that. When things get tough, just remember that over 48,000 students applied to be here this year and you are one of only 4,500 who actually are. Being admitted to this top-ranked public university is quite an accomplishment.
10. See a Student Affairs professional. There are professional in academic and student affairs departments who sincerely enjoy fielding your questions - this is our career. Don’t be shay about asking for help or just checking in and introducing yourself. If you need any ideas or get stuck, check in with us at First Year Programs and we’ll be happy to make a referral. We can be reached at (805) 893-8290 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.