Year One Newsletter arrives to your inbox regularly during your first year to help you navigate being New to UB.
Five weekly tips about life at UB for new first-year students.
Current students tackle one topic in each newsletter about adjusting to life at UB.
It’s okay! Your first week at college is supposed to feel overwhelming. You’re going through a major transition in your life. Right now you’re probably trying to find some sort of routine or schedule that makes the world around you feel a little easier to manage, in addition to living through a pandemic. It's okay to feel overwhelmed and know that you aren’t the only one feeling like this.
This is now my 3rd year at UB and even I am struggling to try and navigate my way through remote learning. It’s new territory for all of us and it's going to take some time to get used to, but that's the same for any transition you experience in your life. I know that for this semester I am definitely going to utilize all the resources that are available to me like, tutoring, office hours, UBLinked (to stay involved), and any others resources that will help make this semester an easier transition. I encourage you all to do the same and remember that it’s okay to feel a little out of place right now.
Congratulations on starting your first week of college! This is no small feat, and you all should be very proud. Whether your classes are in person or virtual this year, this is a stressful adjustment for all of us, so take it one moment at a time. Remember that it is perfectly normal to be nervous and overwhelmed. I know I was. (I got lost 4 times my first week.) Be patient with yourself, professors, and your peers, and prepare for some technological issues and confusion during the first week. We understand that this is probably your first time in a college class and on the UB campus. You do not have to have it all figured out right away. This my last semester, and I still don’t have it all figured out.
Because UB is such a big school, that also means there are many different people and offices at your fingertips, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. It can be scary to make the first step. Asking your RA or your orientation leader from this summer could be a more comfortable way to start. We want to see you succeed, not only as a college student but a UB Bull. There is so much UB Pride on our campus, and I hope you start to feel that too.
Although there may not be the typical large events this year, there are still ways to make connections, and make UB your home. Try to attend some virtual programming, Residence Hall Association events, or club meetings. These are great ways to find community and start to make UB feel a little bit smaller. Prepare for this new virtual world we now live in, and stay safe. Because the more we are able to keep ourselves accountable and healthy, the better this experience can be for our entire UB community.
Right away I knew I wanted to get involved in clubs both that interested me and I enjoyed to do, but also try something new. Coming out of high school playing tennis, I started the year by going to some tennis practices/open hit-around sessions through UB Aces Club Tennis and met a group of people. I even connected with a couple girls I used to play against in high school. I also got involved in Impulse Dance Force and UB Boxing Club in these weeks. Through Impulse I made so many great friendships and had the opportunity to connect with a lot of different people at UB.
Although things look different this year, clubs are doing their best to still be able to connect their members with one another and adapt to a virtual setting. By following clubs that interest you on social media, getting on their email list, or reaching out to them on UB Linked, you can start making smaller connections with new and current members of the club. This also means looking out for club meetings that will be hosted over Zoom and preparing for smaller in-person events with social distancing guidelines. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, start conversations with others, and even share contact information to keep in touch. Others want to make the same connections and being the one to reach out may be scary, but usually worth it!
I also participated in an honors volleyball tournament the second weekend of school. I didn't really know anybody so I was not on a team in advance. It was a bit intimidating showing up without a team, but I am glad I still attended because I was able to join other first-year students that also didn’t have a team. We quickly connected and it was worth the risk of showing up by myself. Other events I attended my first weeks were RA-hosted events, like an ice cream/PJ/game night my second week and a craft and s’mores night in another residence hall. Again, events look different this year, but are still available for you to attend and make connections.
Lastly, I made friends in my classes by simply starting to talk to them in the first couple days and exchange social media. It made it even better that in a couple classes I saw familiar faces from my orientation group who I would go sit by and reintroduce myself. It felt sort of weird or pushy messaging them outside of class at first, but ultimately it helped us get to know each other more beyond the classroom small talk that can feel kind of awkward at first. I sat with the people I made connections with in the first couple weeks for the rest of the semester and we became good friends.
My first few weeks of college were really nerve wracking. I was the only student from my high school that came to UB and I didn't know anyone else coming to UB, so I was really nervous that I wasn't going to have anyone to hang out with. I started saying hi to everyone that that I passed and I made a ton of new friends that way. It turned out that a lot of first-year students also wanted to make new friends; they just didn't know how. By taking that first step and saying hey to everyone, I broke that barrier of both of us being shy and not wanting to start a conversation, leading to a connection. I also went to a lot of events because they were always fun and very easy to start conversations with others. All of the clubs on campus love to host a lot of events as well, so joining at least one of the clubs would make going to events even more fun because it's something to look forward to.
While there might not be as many happening in person this year, there's still going to be events. Whether they are virtual or smaller in-person events, making connections this year are still possible, just a little different. You can still say, "what's up?" to others through Zoom using your mic and camera or the chat feature. You can still introduce yourself and ask, "what's your major?" at smaller in person events -- you'll just be in more style this year with your face coverings and social distance! Keep an eye out on UBLinked for virtual or smaller in person events!
Congratulations everyone! You made it to the third week of class!! Hopefully you have been able to settle into some sort of routine with your class schedule and are getting a hang of those Zoom classes versus in-person classes.
I know it can be challenging to manage all of your different classes and responsibilities, while also getting used to each professor and their own different set of expectations. These past few weeks I have been writing all of my assignments in my planner for the entire semester and trying to get an overview of what my workload will look like. In between my classes, I try to work on my homework assignments so when I go home for the day, I can have a separation between my work and home life.
As we all near our first set of exams, it is important to remember to plan ahead!! I know that is easier said than done, but do not save your studying till the day before, try to cram all of the information, or pull an all-nighter. This will NOT be beneficial in the long run, I promise. Something I have found to be helpful is to schedule set study time for myself. Just as if I were going in for my job, I go to my favorite study spot and stay there for a set time. Whether it be a certain number of chapters to review, practice problems to tackle, or concepts and flashcards to write, I make sure I set a realistic goal of what I can cover in that time.
It is also important to keep in mind that it is okay to fail. My first exams in college, I did not do well at all because I just didn’t know how much to study or what I should be focusing on. Take this time to ask your professors and TAs those questions. After we go through our first set of exams, that can also help to see what you need to adjust in terms of your study habits and study time. As always… when in doubt, reach out! Good Luck & GO BULLS!
As school is beginning to pick up during the third week of the semester, stellar time management skills are essential to be prepared for upcoming tasks. Within the first few weeks of the semester, I made sure to watch my lecture videos at the time allotted on my schedule for them and also set aside time to watch videos outside of lecture to further my knowledge of the class I was enrolled in. Establishing a routine is easier once you make a set schedule for yourself and follow that schedule to complete all of your work. For me, I knew that 300 level courses would be harder than my 200 level courses that I was taking last semester. To accommodate for these classes, I typically spend 3 hours on each outside of class as they are 3 credit courses.
Although establishing a routine may seem tedious to some, my best advice for staying on task is to use Google calendar to allot time in your schedule for your classes and list any upcoming events or tasks you may have that you could potentially have forgotten about. In addition, I always keep my physical planner by my side to write down important dates of quizzes, tests and any upcoming homework assignments due that week. My advice for establishing a routine would be to not put off to tomorrow what you could do today and make sure that you are making time for classes that may be harder for you than others. For me, the classes that I know will take the most time preparing for I save for last so that I can get the easier class work out of the way. Additionally, to prepare for upcoming exams I had and to secure the grade I wanted I spent numerous hours reviewing materials and studying practice problems to ensure I knew the information being presented to me.
Time management in college is not easy. You have to manage your schoolwork with your social life with all the new friends you just met (and continue to meet). Making sure not to concentrate too much time on just one is key. One thing to try is getting a planner and writing all the assignments that are due from each of your classes in it, like when the HWs are due, when tests are, and when you have quizzes. If you don’t want/have a planner, another good platform for this is Google Calendar. I like that Google Calendar allows you to set reminders for all of these assignments and tasks, so you never have to miss a task again!
If you're like me and calendars or planners don't work for you, I would suggest writing these assignments and tasks on Post-Its. I am more of a visual person so I like that I can see all these assignments and can move them around my desk. I separate all the Post-Its based on days so that they're still organized. After you're done with an assignment, you take the Post-It, crumble it up and throw it across the room into the trash can. For me, it’s way more fun and rewarding than crossing something off a to-do list!
Don't forget to manage your social life as well, but remember that school comes first! It can be hard to stick to your schedule; I always found myself putting off homework/studying to go to a club event. This meant I just had to work extra hard the next day to get back on track. In order to account for this when making my schedule, I don’t jam pack each day with a ton of work. I leave a little wiggle room in the schedule, just in case I have to work a bit harder than planned.
During my first semester at UB, a big part of adjusting to college life was figuring out how to manage my time. Between classes, meetings, work, clubs, or whatever you may be a part of this semester, having a calendar and planner is the best way I found to keep track of everything. I personally love using a paper planner and writing everything out. It is great to write down my daily assignments and classes, as well as my future exams, papers, and other big due dates in upcoming months. Keeping a whiteboard calendar in my room is also really helpful, especially to write out days I have meetings, work, tutoring, or other events. I like to prioritize my weekly assignments and things I need to get done, and then break it down day by day. After something is completed, I can cross it off and move onto the next thing. Having a plan not only helps me stay on track, but have an overall idea of the workload for the day/week.
While academics are a priority in time management, remember to not be too hard on yourself and allow yourself some flexibility. Every night when I write down everything I want to accomplish in the next day, I sometimes overestimate how much work I can do in a day. For example, having asynchronous classes means that I have flexibility when I want to watch my lectures. Occasionally I will plan to watch three to four lectures in one day to get ahead. It sounds manageable, but when I watch two and it takes me over a couple hours, plus other things to do, I start to burn out from doing too much in one day. Instead of getting mad at myself for not accomplishing as much as I planned, I have to understand that if I were taking the class in real-time, in person, I wouldn’t be able to watch four lectures in one day. If it is not a priority or not due the next day, then it is probably okay that I didn’t finish my plan! Sometimes doing too much at once leads to another day where I feel burnt out and drained. Having a balanced work day helps sustain my motivation throughout the week. Taking everything day by day, and not being too hard on yourself if you didn’t achieve everything you planned is important!
Lastly, I find it crucial to take breaks throughout the day. Recently I have incorporated an afternoon walk to my daily routine. Whether it be 15 minutes I have in between classes or an hour-long walk, getting outside and not looking at my laptop is the best feeling after sitting at my desk all morning. Use remote learning to your advantage. With more flexibility in your schedule, use your time wisely. Knowing that I don’t have to commute back and forth from class to class, or from school back to my house leaves extra time in my day I wouldn’t normally even have. Regardless of how busy your day is, give yourself time to stop working and do something that you enjoy.
There are so many things that we did not plan for and are out of our control, especially with remote learning. I’ve experienced online work with more assignments than an in-person class, so some weeks it has felt as though I am just submitting assignments and not actually learning. I have come to realize that I really need to take time for myself. Even if it feels like you have too much to do, take a small break, watch a TV show, or treat yourself to a fun meal. After I have taken a break, I feel more productive and am able to get more done because I am not as frustrated or overwhelmed.
As your classes pick up, the most important thing to remember is that if you didn’t get the grade that you wanted, it’s not the end of the world. Take time to figure out what you want to do differently for next time. Perhaps it is planning ahead in your studying, re-watching lectures and taking notes, participating in your zoom lectures, or changing your study location to be more focused. It is also helpful to ask for feedback from your professor, TAs, or tutors. They are great resources to go over specific material you may still have questions on, or give you specific feedback on your progress.
It is important to stay motivated throughout this process. I know there are times the semester can seem daunting and discouraging, especially #collegeduringCOVID. Knowing there are so many different resources out there to help you can make it seem a little more manageable. In my first semester, I did not put enough effort into one of my classes and I felt as though I had to resign from the class. Looking back, if I had simply asked for help or went over my assignments with my TA, I would have done a lot better.
There is so much uncertainty and it is disappointing that you are unable to have the first-year college experience we were hoping for. I know that it probably isn’t helpful that people in your life keep reminding you that “things are a little different this year” or they “hope this email finds you well.” I have gone into my last semester in college originally thinking I would be on campus, finish my Bulls Bucket List, eat at Pistachio’s one last time, and still have a job... Instead, I’ve moved with my family to a new state, adjusted to online classes plus a lack of independence, and questioned my prospects for the future. I want you all to know that it is okay to not be okay right now.
Take some time to allow yourselves to be upset. Write a list of all the things you may be frustrated, overwhelmed, or upset about. I am also available as a resource if any of you want to connect, or go over our lists together.
After experiencing your first few weeks of college, you probably are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, excited or even a mix of all three. I know I was! My first few weeks of college made me question my sense of self, my study habits, and even if I was enrolled in the right major!
These challenges can make you feel sluggish and unmotivated to do work (I know, I have been there). The best way I found to overcome this is to follow a consistent schedule and set personal goals. I found that in my first semester, setting small goals was much more achievable than setting larger goals that I knew I personally would not accomplish right away. My other advice to maintain the same motivation all semester would be to make sure you work towards your goals while also setting aside time for self-care. Especially in a global pandemic, this helped me feel refreshed because I was taking care of my mental, emotional and physical health. The entirety of my first semester dealing with online learning, I would establish a set schedule to accomplish all important tasks but also have some free time. Leaving time for myself after all of my assigned tasks allowed me to feel not only rejuvenated but overall calm and less anxious.
There were numerous times within my first few weeks of my time at UB and during COVID-19 where I felt overwhelmed and needed to adjust my current ways of reviewing the material. I remember studying for an entire week for my first chemistry exam and walking in feeling confident. After seeing the first question, I nearly fainted. I knew nothing about what they were asking me or how to solve the problems. I walked out of the exam feeling defeated and upset with myself. We finally received our grades after a week and, needless to say, I failed. I started to reconsider how I had gone about studying for the first exam and decided to adjust my techniques. I started attending my professor’s office hours, reviewing for an hour daily based on the content covered in lectures, and attending sessions at the tutoring center. My grade on the second exam nearly tripled! It is truly incredible how reevaluating how you prepare can not only improve your score but also your mindset on a particular class.
COVID-19 has made this semester more challenging for myself compared to previous semesters, so I am constantly attending office hours with my professors and TAs. I am prioritizing my assignments rather than putting them off because it is extremely easy to feel overwhelmed and unmotivated during this time. The key to my success has been to prioritize my work first, then spend the rest of my time focusing on me!
Trying to stay healthy, keep up with a social life and maintain a good mental state is no easy task. Throwing a global pandemic on top of that does not exactly help matters. However, we adapt and adjust! Here’s how I’ve been doing it. With all online classes, I knew it was really easy to just stay home in my bed all the time. For my physical well-being, I joined an off-campus gym that had a student discount and go as frequently as possible with a friend. This gives me a reason to get out of the house and catch up with a friend! If this is something not feasible for you, no worries! Taking a quick walk outside, running by Lake LaSalle, or riding a bike or skateboard are all fun and easy ways to stay active.
In terms of filling my cup emotionally and mentally, a lot of this comes from doing well in school so I make sure to stay on top of my assignments with my calendar and planner. It also really helps to study and talk with my roommates because we are all going through the same thing and can support each other.
The first time I got sick in college I was a little nervous, but I knew I had a ton of resources to help me. I rode the Stampede to Michael Hall with a friend, and they told me what I should do to better take care of myself and recommended some over the counter medications that I got at the on-campus CVS. The whole experience made me feel very comfortable and I felt better within a couple of days. Putting this in the context of our world today, the first thing I would do is see if any of my symptoms aligned with the COVID symptoms before going to Michael Hall (Health Services) and putting others at risk. If I felt like there was any possibility I could have it, I’d contact contact my doctor (for you, that might be Health Services at Michael Hall).
It is important to take time for all aspects of your health: physical, emotional, and mental. By now I have my routine of when I will eat, shower, and do laundry in order to take care of my physical health. It is also a great idea to take advantage of the warm weather now and spend some time outside. I like to give myself breaks throughout the week and reward myself with a TV break or fun meal to try and not get too overwhelmed with my school work.
The first time I got sick in college was definitely overwhelming. Things are a bit different now and it is important that if you have COVID symptoms, you should get tested and complete your daily health check with the updated information. However, if you are feeling down with a cold or the flu, this is how I handled the situation. It was hard to have to self-advocate to all of my professors and be without my family to help take care of me. I emailed all of my professors explaining that I was not feeling well and would not be present at class on that day, and asked if there was anything I could do to make up for that time on a later date. Because I was still not feeling well the next day, I went to Michael Hall (Health Services) and was able to get antibiotics. I also asked my friends to get me food and leave it in front of my door.
It can be uncomfortable asking for help, but it was important for me to know that it was okay to need to take a few days off to recover. Your health should be a priority – and that means mental and emotional too. If you feel as though you need to simply take a day off for your mental health, that is okay! Think about how you are feeling, and if you are able to take a day off, some rest may be more productive for you in the long run.
Building connections with other UB students will take your proactive and continued effort. This section highlights our strategies for how to find a friend when you're New to UB.
It is different, a little weird, and definitely possible to build connections. Know that you don’t need to have your entire social scene figured out in the first month.
Put yourself out there and take a risk, and be open-minded if others do the same.