A New Perspective of Home

A few years ago I couldn’t wait to get out of the Midwest, I was just waiting for the chance to leave and start my life on the East coast. However, as I considered transfer schools, it was almost as if divine intervention led me to the University of Missouri-St. Louis. I’ve lived in the Midwest all of my life; but, I’m a coastal girl by heart. Luckily, I found UMSL before the ocean stole me away forever. Even though I can’t wait to travel for graduate school, UMSL gave me a new look on St. Louis and the Midwest as a whole.

I have always lived in Illinois, right on the other side of the river; yet, I didn’t feel a connection to St. Louis until my second semester at UMSL. Riding the Metro Link to school every day was a completely new and eye opening experience. The Metro was my first taste of public transportation and I love how convenient, cost-effective, and simple it is to take the train to school and to many other St. Louis hot spots. Living next to the Metro has allowed me to experience the great activities and events St. Louis offers, without actually living in the city.

It’s funny that going to UMSL really introduced me to the city I’ve referred to as home for so long; because, in the end St. Louis also helped me get to know UMSL better too. The UMSL Alumni network in this city is huge! My favorite place to go in the loop, FroYo, was founded by an UMSL Alum. FroYo isn’t the only amazing UMSL Alumni run St. Louis organization. Keep your eyes open as you explore the city; the more you learn, the more you see UMSL’s roots all over our community. A few days ago I went to a store in Illinois to get some new glasses and my optometrist was excited to tell me that she was an UMSL Alumni.

As a junior, I know graduation is getting closer by the second and I’m excited to see where I will wind up and what I get to learn in the process. I am really going to miss seeing the Arch every day on my way to school. Yet, this time as I contemplate leaving the Midwest I have a completely different outlook on my city. As UMSL students we all get the opportunity to share the many gifts UMSL and the city of St. Louis have given us with our community and with the world. Wherever I go, I’ll take the spirit of St. Louis with me. Thank you UMSL for showing me that St. Louis is a true Midwest gem and each UMSL student or Alumni is a spectacular glimmer of hope and progress for our great city!

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Study Tips

Studying for the first test!

            Are you unsure of where to start?

            Feeling overwhelmed with the amount of notes and short time frame?

            Not sure what to notes to focus on?

       Here are some tips for beating test anxiety:

  • Start early (at least a four days if not a week before the test)
  • Organize/separate your lecture notes into smaller sections (some organization themes might be topic, length/amount of pages, importance (what topic was emphasized the most in class), etc.)  
  • take 10-15min breaks in between studying (studying for more than 2 hours straight overwhelm the mind and impede on retention of information)
  • if you feel comfortable study in groups (helps if you have unanswered questions, and to practice testing each other)
  • go to a review session if it’s offered (just showing your professor that you are making the effort will help you in the long run)
  • remember to EAT!!! An empty mind has no energy to retain information
  • remember to SLEEP!! Again a ill rested mind and body will not be at it’s optimal test taking ability
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Out of My Room and Into the Real World

I spent eighteen years of my life building a comfort zone; it was a bubble in which I was completely content, and at the time I would not have traded it for anything.  I came to live on campus because I had scholarships and because it was extremely convenient for my classes, but I never really intended to go out and meet people.  So when I first moved into my room, I did not make much of an effort to leave it.  Monday through Thursday I would go to my classes and come back to my room, and that was the extent of my college activities.  Friday through Sunday I would typically drive back home to my family in South County and spend my weekends that way.  Was I having fun? Not really.  So why did I keep doing it?  I was just trying to sit inside my comfort zone, never really making the effort to expand beyond it.  I saw other students having fun, doing all kinds of activities on campus, but I continued to sit in my room while I was at UMSL, and I maintained this lifestyle for an entire semester.  I consider this semester my biggest college regret; I effectively lost an entire semester of my college experience.

So what made me finally leave my room and enjoy the community around me?  As it happened, all it took was a friend.  My friend Zach convinced me to go to a basketball game, where I met some of the people in his fraternity.  I immediately enjoyed the group of people and knew I had an opportunity to get to know more people on campus, and I never looked back.  For me, Greek life provided the chance  to finally leave my comfort zone, and my only regret is that I did not leave it sooner.  For you all, I would encourage you not to wait for someone else to knock down your comfort zone like I did.  I clung onto my small area of comfort until somebody pushed me out of it, but nothing is stopping you from going out to meet people on your own accord.  Within the hundreds of strangers you will meet your first couple days are your future best friends, and the sooner you can meet these people the sooner you will begin to love your time at UMSL.  Just remember that ten years down the road you are not going to remember the nights spent in your room by yourself; your memories are going to come from the people you met because you were willing to go out and do something outside your comfort zone.  I promise you won’t regret it.

Your Orientation Leader, Mike

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Getting Involved on Campus

Whether you commute to school or you live on campus, getting involved is probably one of the most important aspects of your college career. In my personal experience, getting involved in organizations on campus made me love going to UMSL so much more. It motivated me to do better in my classes and helped me meet new people. Coming from someone that spent her first semester sitting in her room all the time, I promise that going out and joining an organization or club will be the best decision you ever make in your next four years. I know what questions you might have because these are the ones I asked myself when I first came to UMSL. I wondered, what organizations and clubs are there? Or what if I don’t like any of the ones that are currently available? And will I have time to commit to being active in the organization I join?

To address the first question, there are a variety of clubs and organizations on campus that it’d be hard to not find something that you would enjoy doing. If you’re athletic, try participating in intramurals. There’s everything from horseback riding to rock climbing to basketball. If you’re more academic oriented, there are clubs for almost every major. UMSL also offers organizations in service, multicultural relations, and a variety of other clubs for anyone’s interest. For a list of student organizations check out the Office of Student Life website: http://www.umsl.edu/studentlife/osl/index.html

However, if you find that none of those appeal to you, you can actually start your own club. And it’s actually a much simpler process than you might think. If you follow the link below, you can get the application for a new organization with a detailed list of all the steps to creating your own club here on campus.

http://www.umsl.edu/studentlife/osl/files/pdfs/New%20Student%20Organization%20Application.pdf

As for time commitment, each organization is different. Some of them require more work and time than others. In a majority of cases, it’s really up to you how involved in the organization you want to be and how much time you want to put in. My best advice is to not spread yourself too thin, or get involved in too much. I would say joining one or two organizations will allow you to dedicate yourself and go far in the ones you’re involved in while giving you time to do other things like school work and actual work if you’re planning on having a job.

Studies have shown that those who get involved end up being more successful throughout college and after, so make sure to check out what UMSL has to offer. It will be the best choice you ever made!

 

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A Few Basic Tips for your First Semester

A Few Basic Tips for Your First Semester

Welcome new students of UMSL! As you are preparing for your new collegiate life, hopefully you are beginning to realize that this is a much different experience from the one you are probably used to from high school.  Many of you will be independent for the first time, often away from home, and you will be dealing with an environment completely foreign to the first eighteen years of your life.  In dealing with these changes, many students will find themselves out of their element, and it is only after learning by trial and experience that they re-acclimate themselves.  For this reason, I hope to offer a few useful tips that will help you adjust more quickly to your new home.

Learn to Manage Your Time

Part of the culture shock of coming to college is that almost immediately you will probably realize the huge amount of free time you have.  Instead of attending class for 35 hours a week like in high school, you are now expected to attend lectures for, on average, 15.  Additionally, it is unlikely that you will be involved in many organizations your first few weeks here, and many of you may have not yet found a job close to campus.  While this provides you the opportunity to enjoy your college experience, new students are often unaware of the extra layer of responsibility it provides.  Namely, that nobody else is managing your time for you.  You will be expected to do hours of studying each week for every class you are in, whether or not it is assigned.  If you wait to do your work until the night before a big test, you will not do well.  And if you learn this lesson too late in the semester, the result is that you will be stuck with a GPA much lower than the one you are capable of, and you will spend your next few semesters attempting to drag your GPA up rather than maintain it.  How do you avoid this problem?  Set aside a few hours each day (or night, whichever you prefer) to take care of your responsibilities, whether they be school-related or otherwise.  With only 15 hours of classes each week, I promise there is more than enough time to have fun and take care of everything you need to.  And let’s be honest, that time you are sacrificing was probably just going to be on Facebook or Netflix anyway, so may as well get some productivity out of your computer.

You Will Actually Need to Study

Think back to high school—How many hours a week would you say you actually spent studying?  I am not talking about doing homework but actually studying the material your teacher was testing you over.  For most students, the answer is next to none.  And how did it turn out?  I would wager that most of you, attending a university, probably did quite well in your classes.  This is because the material you were expected to know was covered both in class and through homework.  Rarely would you actually have to crack open the textbook and take in the information for yourself.  This is a huge difference from the reality of a university.  Your professor’s lectures are supplementary, and the readings they assign are expected for you to be familiar with, and that material will show up on the test.  This means, likely for the first time in your life, the burden of learning is entirely on you, not the teacher.  Many students will complain after their first college test that “the professor didn’t teach us x and y.”  Maybe that’s true, but I can wager that in 90% of those situations that material was in the reading, and students who did not read it and actively study it would have no way of knowing that.  Your grades are dependent on your ability to learn, not your professor’s ability to teach.

Get Involved in an Organization

If you spent any time talking with your orientation leaders at New Student Orientation, you probably realized that most of us are involved in more organizations than we can keep track of.  I am not recommending you do that.  But what I do recommend is picking one organization (maybe two if you are feeling ambitious) to involve yourself with right from the beginning.  Why?  Organizations are how you meet people.  They allow you to have a connection to campus other than your classes (and people are generally much more eager to meet other students outside of class).  By getting to know even a handful of people at school, you will find you have opportunities to go out and be social, to get involved in other organizations and activities, and slowly but surely build a family at UMSL.  This process cannot begin until you go out and meet people, and organizations are the single best way to do just that.  Students that are highly involved on campus do so because they love this campus and the people here, and they are always looking to add more to their family.

Get to Know Faculty

As great as meeting your fellow students can be, faculty members are often just as important to know.  In terms of how much they can do for you, nobody on this campus will be able to provide you as many opportunities as the right faculty members.  Many professors can write outstanding letters of recommendation, but they are not likely to do so if they have no idea who you are.  Get to know them well enough, and you may even have the opportunity to participate in their research projects.  Advisors, likewise, will often be the most valuable source of academic advice you can find on campus, and I would recommend seeing them more often than just to create your schedule.  Additionally, the Office of Student Life has a number of people who collectively know just about everything occurring on campus, and can be an invaluable link both before and after you have gotten involved in other organizations.  Everywhere you go at UMSL there are staff members whose primary purpose is to help you succeed and get the most out of your college education, so use them.  They would not be here if they did not love helping students.

Have Fun

Just as important as anything else on this list, make sure to enjoy yourself here at UMSL.  College has the potential to be the best time of your life, but that is not going to happen is you spend all day sitting in your room (you can do that at your parent’s house).  Take advantage of these myriad opportunities all around you, and I promise you won’t regret any part of your college experience.  Balancing the workload with an active social life is one of the most satisfying things you can do here, and there is certainly no shortage of people to help you do just that.  Good luck with everything this first semester, and I look forward to seeing you all in August.

Your Orientation Leader, Mike

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Top Five Reasons I Wish I Would Have Lived on Campus Freshman Year

There are a lot of things I know now that I wish I would have known sooner. I’m sure that the rest of my life is going to be filled with “If I had known then” moments, that is just part of learning. I wish I would have started college differently, but I stepped into college out of the wrong side of the bed. I went in thinking it would be just like high school only bigger. My first few years of college I didn’t meet a lot of people, gained the freshman 15 (plus a few), had terrible time management skills, and struggled through my academic career. I could write a book on things I wish I had done differently. Don’t panic, I figured out how to succeed in college and I figured it out when I transferred to UMSL. There is one thing in particular that I think would have set me up on the right track from the beginning. That one thing is living on campus freshman year. Why? I’m glad you asked.



1. Living on campus means you get to be out of your parents’ house.
Don’t get me wrong, I have the best parents in the world. I wouldn’t trade them for the world, but at 18 I was dying to get out of their house. I moved my bedroom to the basement when I started college so I would have more privacy; unfortunately, it was more than privacy that I needed. As a teenage wild child I still needed structure and I needed freedom to go along with it. I thought because I lived so close to my college I could stay at home and save some money. It was a good idea, but living at home just wasn’t for me.

2. Students that live on campus tend to be more academically successful. Living on campus allows you to be really close to all of your resources. There are tutors, professors, resident assistants, community assistants, and bundles of other students and faculty on campus that are committed to your success. There is nowhere else in the world where so many people care about you and are willing to work so hard to make sure you are successful. Here at UMSL I developed great relationships with those people and I know I would have developed them sooner had I chose to live on campus. I probably would have spent more time studying. But that’s another story.

3. I love the activities I do at UMSL and throughout the community. I started getting involved in the community right before I came to UMSL, and I recently branched out to get involved on campus. When you live on campus it’s so easy to get involved because the opportunities are literally right at your fingertips. People who are involved on campus also tend to be more academically successful. I wish I would have gotten involved early, but as a commuter I was too scared and confused to get involved freshman year, and I couldn’t seem to find the resources to help.

4. The more time you spend on campus, the more AMAZING people you meet. When you live on campus you meet all kinds of people in your building and it is a great ice breaker when you see someone who lives in your building in class. I have heard a lot of people say that they are scared about meeting their roommate. Those same people usually wind up having a great first year and (gasp!) liking their roommate. My first year I really stayed in my safe zone and if I could do it again I would go back and break my social shell much sooner.

5. At UMSL you have the opportunity to live in the coolest residence halls freshman and sophomore year, then transition to larger apartment style communities as an upperclassman. This lets you cut the strings slowly. I lived with my parents until I was 22 and then got an apartment. It seemed like the natural thing to do at the time and it has worked well for me; however, moving into your first apartment can be very overwhelming and if you live on campus you have an entire community to support your transition. Plus, you are surrounded by lots of people that are in the same boat as you.

There is no correct or incorrect way to “do” college, as long as you do it. As you travel your path you will notice that some ways are easier than others. I seem to have a talent for choosing the most difficult path possible, but now I’m a little better at recognizing the pros and cons of my potential choices. Hopefully, more and more people will have the opportunity to live on campus throughout their academic career. I understand that you have reservations. Think of it like the old saying, it’s easy to regret the things you didn’t do and hard to regret the things you did. So go ahead, take the chance, and live on campus!

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Hello world!

Hello New Students, welcome to Triton Experiences! Here you will find the stories of current students and the experiences they have gone through, who have all come together to help you start college with a bit of understanding of what your life for the next four years will resemble. Enjoy!

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