Dr. Throop’s New Student (and Parent) Checklist

Going into my 12th year (unreal, for sure but the truth!) as a college professor, I look back on the good, the not so good, the highs and lows with students who have been in my classes. By my fuzzy math, by the time classes ended in mid-May, in 11 years I have had nearly 2,400 students (including those I see a number of times for their major/minor courses) in my classes. Of those, I keep in touch with about two dozen. I learn much from them as they navigate the real world as they continue to seek from me. I am humbled by that gesture.

Some unsolicited, but, I hope, useful advice ahead of move-in day:

  1. It’s new, it’s big, and it can be overwhelming to move into college life.

You get your stuff moved in, say goodbye to mom, dad, and siblings, and, well, here you are. You’re getting to know your residence hall mates, and every behavior you could imagine, and a few you couldn’t. That will work itself out.

  1. Ask questions.

Any instructor who discourages or is annoyed by questions, I’ll get in touch with them and set that straight! How will you know? In my settings, there are no “stupid” questions, only unasked ones. I don’t want to hear that term, nor disgusted reaction to it.

Did I mention, ask questions?

  1. There will be times when you’re lonely, and that’s to be expected.

Many, many others are in the same situation. They’re all around you, coping as they are able. Listen for them and listen even more.

  1. Celebrate the small achievements, especially in course work you’re not excited about.

It all plays into your bigger picture in the learning process.

  1. Talk to strangers.

However dining programs are operated, when you’re in the dining hall, and you see someone you may have met, and they’re alone, maybe once in a while, ask if you can sit and eat with them. Ask them how their day is going. You may be surprised.

  1. Talk to God.

However you choose, and admittedly, being at a faith-based institution, it’s what we do, but if you’re at a state or non-denominational private school, seek out a faith life to supplement your daily life. I am sure there are plenty of ministry programs serving the campus. Participating will give you a boost, at the least, and guidance at the best.

  1. Sleep in peace.

I integrate this into my first year Benedictine College Experience course:

At the end of your day, when you’re lying in your bed, phone turned down, and you hear only your heart and your breathing, say to yourself “How did I do today? What do you want of me tomorrow?”

Take that as your “campus guide” to sleep well.

Michael Throop