In the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, one of the habits is to “begin with the end in mind.” The author, Stephen R. Covey, explains, “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.” As you begin your freshman year, take a few moments to think ahead four or five years to your graduation day. Imagine you are walking across the stage and about to shake President Peterson’s hand. You begin to reflect back over your years at Tech. What will you be thinking about? What will you have accomplished? Did you give back to your community through one of our many service opportunities? Did you participate in, lead or found a student organization? Did you develop meaningful friendships?
It may seem counter-intuitive to think about graduation in your first week as a freshman and slightly overwhelming to consider the answers to the questions asked above, but I want to remind you that there are many resources available to support you as you begin your journey.
First, I hope you are participating in at least one of two programs specifically for freshmen: the Freshman Experience (FE) program and the GT 1000 Freshman Seminar course. Both have a single, overarching goal: to help freshmen succeed. One of the most powerful aspects about both GT 1000 and FE, though, is the student leaders who work with these programs. Whether they are Peer Leaders in the FE program or Team Leaders in the GT 1000 sections, these upper-class students offer an enormous amount of insight, advice, and mentorship. They are giving their time and energy to you- so take advantage of the wisdom they offer.
Second, get to know your professors. They are here to provide you the opportunity to learn new knowledge, succeed in your classes, support your educational needs and share their perspectives on career and graduate school opportunities in their disciplines. Visit your professors during office hours and find ways to interact with them through programs like undergraduate research and study abroad. Later this semester, the Student Center will host an event called “Take a Prof to Lunch” where you can invite a professor (or TA) to lunch at a reduced price.
Third, utilize the many campus resources available to you. Beyond academic resources, Career Services and the Division of Professional Practice offer programs to help you decide on a major and career and obtain work experience, and our Division of Student Affairs houses numerous departments such as Student Involvement, The Ferst Center for the Arts, Community Service, the Campus Recreation Center (CRC), the Counseling Center, Women’s Resource Center, Leadership programs and New Student and Sophomore Programs (to name a few)—all designed to enhance your educational experience and extend your learning beyond the classroom.
Fourth, take time to understand the academic standards that are expected of a university student. Manage your time- both in and out of class. Get a planner and map out your entire semester, noting exam dates, homework due dates, research paper or lab report deadlines, and other key dates. Attend class — every class. And, when you attend class, come prepared to be engaged. Do the readings before class, take notes, ask questions and pay attention to the professor during class. Learn how to study smarter, not harder. Finally, meet with your academic advisor whenever you have questions. Advisors know the “big picture” when it comes to your education and campus resources and should be your primary point of assistance.
I wish each and every one of you a successful first semester. Please don’t hesitate to let me know how I can be supportive during your time at Tech, and I can’t wait to see you at graduation in just a few short years. It will be here sooner than you think!