The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

A senior’s guide to surviving your first year

4 min read
Three students walking to and from the CRUC by Virginia Hall

Students on the pathway between the newly renovated Virginia Hall and Ball Circle. | Skylar Joseph, The Weekly Ringer


Staff Writer

For a first-time college student, living away from home—as exciting as it may seem—can also be a difficult and sometimes scary experience. From finding friends to doing well in classes, there is so much to learn and adjust to. However, there are many resources, clubs and organizations on campus that aim to help students through this transition so they can find their second home at Mary Washington.

When it comes to academics, which are undoubtedly the main aspect of university life to prioritize, Mary Washington offers a number of academic services, such as the Speaking and Writing Center, peer tutors, academic advisors, the Office of Disability Resources and the Digital Knowledge Center. “There are so many amazing resources at your disposal with many kind folk ready to help you at a moment’s notice,” said Killian Petty, a sophomore majoring in business administration. “For any digital projects you may be having trouble with, there is the Digital Knowledge Center, also known as the DKC.”

Balancing time to study and socialize is one of the toughest aspects of college life to adjust to and is even something that upper-classmen struggle with in their later years.
The Harvard Division of Continuing Education suggests that students create a calendar and keep it in a visible place to be reminded of what each day entails. Keeping an organized schedule can help students in their academic and social lives, which is one of the many important skills college students come to acquire through living independently.

The University of Mary Washington offers over 140 student-run clubs and organizations that pertain to sports, academics, the arts and more. Furthermore, on Wednesday, Aug. 30, the Office of Student Activities and Engagement held Club Carnival, which is one of the biggest events on campus. There, students had the opportunity to meet club leaders and members, as well as sign up for organizations that piqued their interest.

While it can present new opportunities for first-year and returning students, Club Carnival can also be overwhelming with the sheer amount of options. “There’s going to be a lot of activities on campus and people who will try to pull you into participating in their club/program,” said Christian Lyman, a senior majoring in psychology. “It’s going to feel overwhelming and that’s okay. Don’t feel like you have to take part in every single thing.”

Even with the help of Club Carnival to make connections and meet new people, being away from home can evoke feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially in addition to getting used to college-level classes. To help process this life change and find mechanisms to work through their feelings, the University offers an array of resources for students of all years to utilize, many of which are free. For example, the Talley Center for Counseling Services, located on the first floor of Lee Hall and also in Tyler House, offers complimentary one-on-one sessions and group sessions with licensed professionals for all registered students.

In addition to caring for their social life and mental health, learning how to eat healthily is also another facet that comes with living independently. For first-year students, the University requires the Eagle Unlimited Plan, which provides an unlimited amount of swipes across campus dining venues. The plan also includes $200 in flex that may be spent at the other retail dining options on campus, such as Katora Café and Vocelli’s Pizza. Amidst the bustling environment of the dining hall, it can be tempting to eat what is the tastiest or frequent the same places in the dining hall just because they’re familiar. Eating healthily doesn’t mean you have to give up the dining hall’s ice cream cones, but being cognizant of what you’re fueling your body with is a life skill that students can start developing now in order to have a smoother transition into post-grad life.

Adjusting to life at Mary Washington can be a difficult journey, but there are plenty of faculty and staff members and students who are here to help you make Mary Wash your second home. Moving out of your comfort zone and trying new things is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. So, join a new club, partake in school traditions—like swimming in the Monroe fountain—and try your best to get to know your professors. Utilize the resources provided by the University to help both yourself and others. The Mary Washington community is a welcoming one, and we want you to be here.