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The “True” College Experience: Advice to Freshmen From a Senior

by Nicole Cortino

As TheInsider covered in previous issues, the campus atmosphere this semester is very different, and students on campus are not having the typical college experience.

The pandemic forced some students to stay home and learn completely online, which is not typical unless a student chooses an online university. Students are still able to live on campus, but many classes are taught remotely.

College is a major adjustment from secondary education, and those adjustments can be very unique — hence the requirements for Cornerstone and freshmen seminar courses, which are classes that help students transition more smoothly into higher education.

Shaquoia McCray, a senior basketball player learning online and on campus, balances physical therapy appointments, practices, and coursework as she prepares for her last semester, where she’ll complete her psychology Capstone.

“I try not to nap and instead put a little work there, leaving all my sleeping for the night time,” McCray said. “I’m busy with physical therapy, practice for basketball, and this is my last year, so I want to make sure I’m not slacking off at all. I want to prepare myself for graduate school and the workforce.”

McCray’s college experience changed her, she says. It’s affected her eating habits, sleeping schedule, and her view on life in general.

Managing stress properly as a student is important, and McCray can tell when she’s overstressed.

“It’s difficult for me to eat when I’m really stressed out,” she said. “This impacts my performance skills when practicing for basketball because I’m fueling my body with the energy it needs.”

A variety of strategies can help freshmen manage their stress, like following a consistent schedule, eating a healthy diet, sleeping well, and talking with friends.

Students who are overwhelmed by stress can also reach out to the Counseling Center, which is providing telehealth appointments during the pandemic.

McCray knows many students can relate to her staying up late to finish assignments, or sleeping in if a class was canceled.

However, managing time well and sticking to a regular schedule will help students feel less stressed and be more productive.

McCray knows this isn’t always easy for new college students, and it can take time to develop.

“Coming into college my freshman year, I was a totally different person,” McCray said.

McCray already recognizes many of the changes college caused in her.

“I learned how to procrastinate less. I had to manage my time between completing my work load and enjoying time hanging out with my friends. I’ve learned how to strengthen my skills,” she said.

She believes college helped her confidence, and other college students should feel accomplished for their successes as well.

“My main takeaway is how far my potential reaches now that I’ve opened myself up more in college – not talking about the degree, but bettering my social skills, informally and professionally,” McCray said. “I’ve always been confident, but my level of confidence increased overall, especially with my mindset now more matured.”

McCray emphasized the importance of accepting change as a freshman.

“It’s okay to see yourself changing. It’s normal. By your junior year, you’ll still be learning, but you’ll have a better idea of who you are,” she said. “This is important for freshmen because a lot will change, but change is good when you’re growing.”

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  1. Editorial: We’re in the Home Stretch! Don’t Stop Now. – The Insider

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