September 6, 2013

A Student’s Perspective: Courtney, Class of 2015

By University of Washington

Easing into campus life

Since coming to the University of Washington, I have made it a goal to learn as much as I possibly could, both in my classes and through other opportunities the university offers. Growing up in Bellingham, WA, I didn’t have to put forth too much effort to be surrounded by people and activities. The ease and comfort of this safety cushion was probably what I struggled with the most when first starting college. I missed the reliability of a community of family and friends. Once I realized that it was up to me to seek out whom and what I wanted to get involved with, I took strides in the right direction.

Finding a path

During my first year, I was on the UW cheerleading squad, I joined a Freshman Interest Group (FIG) and an off-campus housing organization, attended a Christian ministry for college students called The INN, began a work-study job with the Division of Student Life and was an orientation leader for First Year Programs. Becoming involved in various organizations and meeting diverse groups of people was my favorite part about freshman year. After that first year, I was able to see my hard work pay off in the great friendships I had developed.

Deciding on a major

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in when I first arrived at the UW. All I knew was that I wanted a career in which I could actively help people on a daily basis and not get stuck behind a desk. At first I wanted to major in psychology, then switched to education, then social work, and now have landed in a double major of sociology and communication. I am completely in love with my final choice (hopefully) of majors. The classes and professors in both fields amaze and intrigue me daily.

Courtney’s top three tips for incoming students

If I knew then what I know now…

1)  I would set up a family communication plan. Scheduling specific days and times to call home every week to check in with your family is crucial. Set clear expectations of communication, whether it is about grades, general updates or financial issues, so that everyone feels involved. I usually call my family when I’m walking home from class or work.

2)  I wouldn’t feel so rushed. You don’t need to know exactly what you want to study. In most majors, there isn’t a specific track that you need to follow in order to apply. At the UW, we also have general education requirements, which are categories of classes you must take in order to graduate; fulfilling these requirements is just as important as taking classes for your major. It makes your educational experience more diverse by allowing you to explore classes you may not have considered otherwise.

3)  I would use a planner from the start. As an incoming student, you are given a planner at your orientation. Once receiving your syllabi, take advantage of this free resource by writing all major assignments and due dates in your planner. One class’s assignments may seem to be spread out evenly across the quarter, but when you add two to three more on top of that, things can get overwhelming. By using your planner, you can anticipate busy weeks and study ahead of time, or cut out some social events during those weeks.

Now that I’m a junior, I’ve declared my first major in sociology and I’m starting to work on the communication route. I will be teaching a class of 19 incoming students this upcoming fall as a FIG leader, and I’ll be mentoring a group of students in the UW Leaders program. I am ready and highly anticipating the start of school, because I’m kind of a nerd and I love to learn!

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