Survey Says: Advice for First-Year Students

three students walking in the grass on campus

The Class of 2020 will soon be diving head-first into college life. We asked professors, recent grads, and rising seniors what advice they would give a first-year for navigating those sometimes deep waters. Here’s what they told us:

Dr. Dhammika  Muesse, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Physical and mental well-being is also an essential component for course success. Cultivate a focus-training practice and practice it daily: Examples are mindfulness meditation, Metta meditation, mindful walking, and mindful eating. Incorporate physical exercise or yoga into your daily routine. Sleep at least 7 hours a day. Stay hydrated. Eat healthy. Avoid intoxicating drinks and substances.

Dr. Eric Gottlieb, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
Rhodes has worked hard to attract a group of students from a wide range of backgrounds. Many of them have backgrounds and experiences that are very different from yours. Make an effort to understand and respect them and their lived realities. Learning to interact productively with people from different economic, racial, religious, and political backgrounds is a skill that will serve you well. Be an active listener.  

Amelia Yeomelakis ’15, History and Religious Studies
During your first month at Rhodes, put a lot of time into your social life. Introduce yourself to everyone, knock on doors on your floor, or keep your door open to meet more people. Don't eat alone; have the courage to sit with total strangers. After a little while, students settle into their friend groups and meeting new people becomes more and more difficult. If you don't step out of your comfort zone and meet people in the first month, you might miss out on meeting students who might have become your best friends! 

Tom Simmermaker ’16, English
1) Get to know your professors. You will hear that said a million times, but for good reason. Having accessible professors is one of the greatest perks of a small liberal arts school. 2) Find what you love outside of the classroom and pursue it. Sounds simple, but sometimes it takes some searching.

Natey Kinzounza ’17, Religious Studies
‘Live less out of habit and more out of intention.’ Rhodes is a place where you can make most any of your passions a reality, so long as you take the time to be intentional with professors. You could, for example, send your professors an email at the beginning of the semester introducing yourself and expressing your excitement for the course. Visit professors during their office hours, and not simply to create a game plan of how you can pass their class, but also because you really enjoyed their last lecture! Rhodes is a magical place that allows brilliant professors to come alongside us, don't waste that!

Samuel Holder ’17, Political Science
Do your homework. It sounds so obvious that it seems like this is a joke, but seriously, make sure you do your homework. It’s much harder to pull your grades up than it is to destroy your GPA with one or two bad grades. Also, if you are prepared and can actively participate, the class will be much more enjoyable. There is so much to do while at Rhodes, be it clubs, sports, volunteering, or social activities, and you should try to take advantage of as many groups as you can handle, but you came to college to get an education first. Have fun and get involved, but try not to overwhelm yourself by overcommitting to a bunch of things, because no matter what you end up doing, you will be busy.

By Drew McCormick ‘18