Going to college may seem like an overwhelming and even intimidating experience. There are so many unknowns that can potentially make for an uneasy transition. With the exception of maybe a few brief visits to campus and the student orientation, it is a completely new environment and culture to learn as you are basically starting over. While this is a great opportunity to become anything that you want, there are also the fears and insecurities of what can go wrong. You know that mom and dad aren't going to be there to ask the questions on your behalf and help you navigate the difficult decisions. For possibly the first time, your future is in your hands. This is why we want to set your mind at ease and share our experience with you by addressing eleven of the most common concerns of incoming first-year college students.
1. How do I know if I’ll like my roommate?
Schools put in a lot of work to make sure this scenario doesn’t happen. This is typically done through matching surveys, interviews, housing communities, and online social groups. These methods take into account personality, living preferences, study habits and social habits to create the best possible roommate situations for students. Most schools also offer the option to request a roommate; so if you know someone coming to the school that you’d like to live with you could always consider that option. At Misericordia, we also help resident students through this transition with roommate meetings and contracts to make sure everyone is on the same page with preferences/habits. The majority of schools will also offer the option to switch roommates if serious conflicts cannot be resolved.
2. What if I don’t like what’s for dinner in the cafeteria?
Universities purposely design their dining hall with several options. There’s typically a hot meal, a grill with burgers, chicken and fries, a deli, a salad bar, a cereal bar, and a pizza oven; some schools may even have more. At Misericordia, if none of those options look appetizing to you, then you could always grab some food from Chick-fil-a, the Chopping Block or Starbucks which are all on-campus dining options aside from the cafeteria.
3. What if I need to talk to my professor?
The first week of classes is called syllabus week simply because that is the time when all professors will go over their syllabus for each class. Within the syllabus, a professor will provide office hours and their best mode of communication (office phone, email, cell phone, etc.). So if you are unable to make it to one of their office hour openings, then you can contact them via email to schedule an appointment.
4. I don’t want to just be a number.
This is a completely understandable concern. No one wants to be looked over or forgotten, especially in your first year of college! Here at Misericordia, we are proud to say our education style is very one-on-one and personal. We are able to do this with a low student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1. What that means is that to every 11 students there is one professor, thus giving students more opportunities to engage and interact one-on-one with their professors.
5. I don’t think I’ll know how to study/write a paper for my class.
The transition from high school to college can be a challenge, especially when it comes to time management, the amount of work assigned, and knowing how to approach assignments and studying. Every university will offer help in different ways, but many will have tutoring programs and writing assistance in some format. At Misericordia, we have the Student Success Center which is a great place to stop by if you’re concerned about studying and writing papers. Tutoring sessions at MU are free, and our Writing Center is a drop-in center, so you don’t have to worry about signing-up for an appointment. One thing to remember too is that your professors are here to help. Many professors will allow you to bring them a rough draft of a paper and they will give you feedback on what you did well and where you can improve. While it might seem scary to have a professor, or even a fellow student in the Writing Center critique your work this way, it’s far better to get the feedback early and make changes than receive a grade that isn’t as high as you had hoped for.
6. What if I don’t like the major I chose?
Sometimes you’ll choose a major, begin taking classes, and realize that you may have chosen a major that you really don’t like. Fortunately, in the early years, you’ll be taking many core classes that are required for every major; so transitioning into another major shouldn’t be incredibly difficult. There are many people on campus to help guide you through the transition, including academic advisors, the career center, and your peers. If this is a concern it’s important to choose a school that offers a few majors you may be interested in. If you realize you don’t like your major just remember, that’s okay. Do some reflection on what classes you do enjoy, what your ultimate goal is, and then talk with your advisor or a professor in order to move forward with changing your major.
7. I’m going to live on campus but how will I get around without a car?
This varies at some schools; ask your admissions counselor or tour guide when you visit about the policy. At Misericordia, first-year resident students are not allowed to have a car on campus. We, like a lot of schools, offer a complimentary shuttle service for students who would like to go into town for groceries or coffee and sometimes further for shopping and movies (this will depend on where your school is located).
8. I don’t know anyone going to the same college-how will I meet new friends?
Meeting new friends is one of the toughest parts of starting your college career. To help students meet new people, many colleges have pre-orientation opportunities to meet your future classmates in a small group setting. For example, Misericordia University offers outdoor pre-orientation excursions to get them acquainted with the school as well as other students interested in the same things as them. Furthermore, many colleges require summer orientations sessions that include team building and ice breakers to help students learn more about their future classmates and the new school they’ll be attending. Finally, once a student is on campus, many colleges offer a club fair in the first week of classes which introduces new students to the many activities and clubs available on campus. Choosing to participate in a club is a great way to meet new people and make lifelong friends.
9. I work at home-can I still work on campus?
There a number of ways students can continue working on campus. First, many colleges offer a federal work study option. A student qualifies for federal work study based on their financial situation as detailed in the FAFSA. Additionally, some colleges may also offer on-campus student employment opportunities that are not part of work study. It is common that colleges will advertise both federal work study and student employment positions on the student website or portal. Finally, if a student has transportation available, it is common for students to find a job at a local business that surrounds the college area.
10. Will I be able to afford college?
College is an investment; you are going to classes for a reason, a goal, a dream. Be willing to make the investment; be realistic but don’t immediately dismiss a school because of a number. Do some research, look into scholarships, financial aid, and loans you may be eligible for. At Misericordia, we offer merit awards based on how you’ve done in high school as well as extracurricular awards based on the activities you’ve been involved with and the service hours you’ve put in. After that we’ll consider the FAFSA; this is the form you and your family will fill-out to determine if there are any federal or state awards you qualify for. This form can be tedious and overwhelming; call your Admissions counselor and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
11. How do I know if my degree will get me a job?
The best way to ensure you’ll get a job with your degree is to work hard in class, participate in internships and volunteering both on campus and in the community. This will help you build your resume early. Several schools will also have career centers to aid in your professional development and job search. At Misericordia, we have the Insalaco Career Center for Development to help students through this tedious and often stressful process. The University also offers a Guaranteed Placement Program (GPP) that guarantees a job or acceptance into graduate school within six months of graduation for students who successfully complete the program; otherwise, Misericordia will arrange a paid internship for the student. Internships will also give you the chance to explore different options so you can narrow down your interests and find a field you’re passionate about. It’s also important to be realistic and understand that when you first graduate, you won’t be transitioning into a top-level job, or maybe even a mid-level job. Entry-level jobs are the first step in building your career, so don’t pass up any opportunities for experience. When you consider different colleges be sure to consider their post-graduation employment rate; what percentage of their students start working right after college? At Misericordia we have a 94% overall placement rate with 70% of students pursuing full-time positions.
~ Catie Becker, Bridget Guarnieri, Joy Mack, Christine Zopf
Misericordia University Traditional Admissions Counselors
At Misericordia, students are given the personal attention, quality education, and career preparation they need to be successful. Contact us at 1-866-262-6363 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with one of our Admissions specialists.