Congratulations! You have survived your first three weeks of school and have hopefully become acquainted with your new home here at Loyola University Chicago! Yes, you have a homework, projects, and papers, but hopefully you are able to take time for yourself, some “Me-Time”. College is not just about the academics (which are very important), but it is also about exploring your passions and pursuing your interests. Here are some suggestions to help you have a academically successful as well as a well-rounded, balanced first year at your new school.
- Do not spread yourself too thin: After coming from the activities and organization fair in the fall, you may become overwhelmed and wonder how you are going to balance your school load as well as your extracurricular life. This is a perfectly normal feeling! Know and have a feeling of your stress level and how much you can take, then plan accordingly. I realized this hard way the first semester of my sophomore year. I thought that taking on a 21 credit hour load, with a job on campus as a Peer Advisor with three UNIV courses, a bass trombonist for the Wind Ensemble, prepare for a recital, be a Kuya (peer mentor) for Kapwa (the Filipino Student Organization), and work at the Undergraduate Admissions Office; would be doable and manageable. Oh, how was I wrong! After the first week of classes, I was highly stressed and could hardly have a chance to relax. That’s when I realized that I had spread myself too thin. To counteract this, I cut down my academic load to 18 credit hours. It was after this decision was I able to relax and fully evaluate my school balance. To teach my students the importance of knowing how much you can take, I told my UNIV students the same thing I am telling you. You know yourself better than anyone else!
- Get Involved: Was there a club, organization, sport that you truly enjoyed during high school? There is almost certainly a club like this and more at Loyola! And, if you do not find something but want to start it, Loyola always welcomes new ideas for clubs/activities for its students to join and be a part of. There are also plenty of events to allow students to get involved with service and charity. When coming to Loyola I looked for clubs that I was interested in and also fit my hectic commuting schedule. After being a part of my high school’s Filipino Tinikling Group, I knew I wanted to be a part of Kapwa (Loyola’s Filipino Student Organization) and be a part of their mentoring program. I was fortunate enough to have wonderful mentors (three wonderful Ates) who I am still in touch with. Additionally, I knew I wanted to be part of Loyola’s Wind Ensemble. In high school, I was highly involved in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Orchestra, Marching Band, and Musical Theatre. Being in the Ensemble allowed me to relax while doing something I enjoy, playing music! Whatever club/organization you end up choosing, be dedicated and be a leader!
- Take Advantage of Chicago: You are in Chicago, the third most populated metropolitan area in the United States behind New York City and Los Angeles! What are the perks of a city like Chicago? There is always something for you to do! Whether you want to go to the world renowned museums, watch concerts at Millennium Park, or hang out in Chicago’s small towns and neighborhoods; it is all doable in a city like Chicago. All of these attractions are within a swipes reach? Yes, you heard that right, part of your tuition to Loyola includes something called a U-Pass allowing students access to all CTA Trains and Buses. Take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity!
- Take Time For Yourself: This one is self-explanatory but be sure to give yourself the time to relax and enjoy and not get too stressed. If you need help in managing stress and getting adjusted to college life, there are always those who can help you out. From a therapy dog to counselors, there are always people who want you to take care of yourself!
- Take a deep breath and fully appreciate the experiences and opportunities that Loyola University Chicago and the city of Chicago has to offer you! Adventure is out there!