Category Archives: First Year Experience

New Year, New Semester, Fresh Start

lexi
Lexi is first-year graduate student at LSU, pursuing an MBA with a specialization in marketing analytics. She currently serves as the marketing & communication graduate assistant at LSU First Year Experience (FYE). Before pursuing her master’s degree, Lexi received her bachelor’s degree in mass communication: public relations from LSU. She is from the small town of Lockport, LA, but has enjoyed living in Baton Rouge for the past five years.  

With a new year, comes a new semester and a fresh start at tackling classes and all of the exciting, yet occasionally stressful, things that come with any college experience. The best way to kick off a new semester is to take the time to reflect on the one that just passed. The very first thing all Tigers should think is: “Wow! I conquered another (or your first) semester toward a long-term goal I’ve set for myself!” This past fall semester was a rough start for everyone at LSU, and having made it through is a huge accomplishment that all Tigers should celebrate. After considering all that you’ve accomplished in the past semester, you should begin to think about things you can improve upon. Ask yourself, “How can I make the spring semester even better? How can I finish this year off strong?” As a Tiger with years of experience of balancing course work, student leadership and involvement, internships and work, as well as a social life; here’s the advice I would give any student on starting the semester off strong:

  1. Be proactive, not reactive! Plan ahead, Tigers! The best way to ensure that you start off the semester on the right foot, is to know what you want to accomplish. Set goals for yourself now, before the semester starts. While it sounds like a minor thing, starting classes with clear-cut goals of what you want to accomplish will take a massive amount of stress off of you during the first weeks of classes. I am a visual person, so the way that I set my goals is by writing down what I want to work toward, and even writing down how I am going to do it. This helps me stay focused, even when other things pop up.
  2. Tackle Homesickness. During my first few years at LSU, coming back to campus after the month-long break was tough because I would get used to being with my family and hometown friends again. While the saying, “There’s no place like home,” is absolutely true, the only way to make the feeling of homesickness subside is to make LSU your home. The best way to do this is to get involved and take advantage of the resources and events that the University offers. You should take comfort in the fact that your becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be, and you’re accomplishing a major goal by being here.
  3. Stick to the rule of three! I am a big believer that the more involved you are, the better you do in school. With that being said, I also believe that you cannot give a thousand things 100 percent of your ability all at the same time. So my advice is to stop doing several things half-way and do three things extremely well. For example, during my senior year of my undergraduate time at LSU my three things were doing well in school, serving as vice president of PRSSA at LSU and my job at LSU FYE. When you focus all of your effort on only a few specialized things, you’d be amazed at all you can accomplish and how well-received your work will be amongst your superiors and teachers. My advice for how to narrow down to only three things is to stick with what is going to help you accomplish the goals you’ve set (See #1).
  4. Know what helps you de-stress! Sometimes no matter how much you plan in advance, the stress of the semester still sneaks up on you. When this happens, it is good to know what is going to make you feel better and gain a handle on things. For me, depending on how stressed I was at the time, it could be as simple as taking a few deep breaths and watching my favorite TV show or even going for a run regularly. Everyone is different, but it will be helpful to have a healthy way to de-stress in mind when that overwhelming feeling sneaks up on you. LSU’s Center for Academic Success has great examples of ways to manage stress, and the LSU UREC has a lot of active ways to decompress.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I would be willing to bet that there are very few, if any, successful people out there who achieved their success without the help and guidance of others. That is why it is important to know your limits, and know when you may need help from a classmate or a tutor, or when you may need to take advantage of the additional resources on campus. Asking for help will never hinder you from reaching a goal, but giving up surely will.
  6. Know that you can do it! You’ve already made it through one semester this year, so there is no doubt you’ll make it through this one! You can accomplish all of the goals you set by staying focused, organized and working hard. Good luck this semester, Tigers! Even though you won’t need it because I know you’ve got this semester covered.

Why STRIPES?

IMG_3286Bio: English major, Junior, from Marshall, Texas. Involved in LSU Ambassadors, served as a STRIPES small group leader for 2 years, currently serving on executive staff

STRIPES bio: extended orientation program focusing on history and traditions, spirit, and making students feel more at home and have a more personal or intimate connection with campus and with other future tigers. It stands for Student Tigers Rallying Interacting and Promoting Education and Service.

Take it from someone who heard about STRIPES and said “Ew. That sounds lame.” STRIPES is worth your time. Though I was never a participant at STRIPES, this program has shaped me and changed me more than I can express in 500 words or less. However, this isn’t about me, is it? It’s about you. And how STRIPES can change your life like it changed mine.

S is for spirit.

I don’t necessarily mean cheer camp or fired up spirit. While this program is fun and energetic, it instills a sense of pride for LSU that doesn’t have to be loud and noisy. Whether you’re more introverted or extroverted, there are parts of the program that can show you how sweet it can be to be a tiger.

Just an example, all participants get a little card with the lyrics to the LSU alma mater, and line by line, we sing it together. What a resource. I was mumbling those lyrics for a solid year and a half after football games, and knowing that it said “worth” and not “birth” would have been handy.

T is for tradition.

Did you know that LSU is one of the only universities with a land grant, a sea grant, and a space grant? Did you know that we have the Indian Mounds on campus, a landmark older than the Egyptian pyramids? Did you know that Death Valley started our as a residence hall and somehow was magically converted a football stadium by Governor Huey P. Long?

LSU’s history is full of wild, interesting tidbits, making it a unique university with tons of interesting fun facts. And while I might be a little partial, I think ours are more interesting than any other school in the SEC – two words for you Bama, GEAUX and TIGERS.

But I digress. All of these interesting tidbits are things that I learned from the STRIPES program.

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R is for respect.

There are 30,000 students on this campus and they all come from different walks of life. Aspects of the program focus on getting students to see from the perspectives of others, and to unite the student body. No matter our gender, racial identity, sexuality, political party, or economic class, we’re all tigers. That’s something we can’t forget when starting a new chapter.

I have seen STRIPES give students the pen they needed to keep writing that chapter. Students can leave with a respect not only for their campus, but for the 30,000 beautiful individuals that call it home.

I is for intelligence.

STRIPES works with LSU’s Center for Academic Success and the Olinde Career Center to give students resources to help them succeed for their first semester and beyond. One of my favorites is the Learning Style Preference Assessment, where students are given strategies that are individualized to help them learn to the best to their own ability. Also, students get to see the faces of the workers at those offices, opening doors for them to be unafraid to ask for help.

P is for people.

This is my favorite letter because the people at STRIPES are some of the programs greatest assets. STRIPES has over 60 qualified student leaders that come from every corner of campus. These student leaders take on the role of mentorship for participants, for the program and beyond.

Staff aside, students are put into small groups that go through the program together.   There is something special about watching groups go from painful small talk to camaraderie in four short days. I have no idea how it happens, but somehow I have found every small group I have ever had laughing while eating breakfast without student leaders  having to drive the conversation.

squad being cute

E is for eats.

Okay, honestly maybe this is my favorite letter. STRIPES is catered by some of Baton Rouge’s best restaurants and caterers – they believe and invest in the program and I thank them from the bottom of my heart and stomach. One new part of the program – GEAUXchella – is a Baton Rouge appreciation festival that will bring in restaurants from the Baton Rouge area to show students that Baton Rouge has cool things for students off of campus as well as on campus.

S is for stories.

Before my freshman year of college, I though STRIPES was lame. Let’s blame that on me being uncomfortable at LSU. Stripes showed me that whether LSU was my first choice (which it wasn’t) or at the bottom of my back-ups (which it was), there was something I could find on campus that would not only make me successful on campus, but make me feel like I belonged in the midst of 30,000 terrifying strangers. While this was comforting as a sophomore, it would have been a real life-saver as a freshman.

Thus ends my plea. As a group leader, I have seen this program do amazing things for students. And it’s my firm belief that it can do that for anyone. As a small group leader, I have met so many people and learned their stories, and those stories have pushed me, inspired me, and given me so much confidence that I am in the right place.

If you’re on the fence, give it a try. You might surprise yourself.

 

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