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Nine questions you are afraid to ask about college

March 20, 2014 | Ian Richardson

With new surroundings, new friends, new teachers and new classes, moving to college can at times seem like an intimidating transition. If you’re finding that you have some questions and insecurities about moving away from home and into a college setting, you’re not alone.

Here at Evangel, we want to make your transition into campus life as easy for you as possible. To help you do that, we’ve compiled a list of nine questions you might have, but may be a bit shy to ask, about the Evangel experience.

1. What if I don’t like my roommate?

Evangel uses a roommate-matching system to select as compatible a roommate as possible for you at the beginning of your freshman year. The survey you’ll fill out uses a variety of criteria such as bedtime, study habits, interests and musical preferences to gauge which other students best match your living habits. Pam Smallwood, housing director, then matches you with a roommate based on your and other students’ answers to the survey.

Girls dorm“At no time is it random,” Smallwood says. “With every student we take weeks and months to make sure we find the very best person available. We try to start them out with the best that’s available.”

Smallwood recommends filling out these surveys as completely and as honestly as possible to ensure you receive the best match. But if, once you get here, you find yourself struggling with your assigned roommate, your resident assistant (RA) and resident director (RD) are available to help you work through any problems that may arise.

2. What if I’m not smart enough for college?

Evangel has several resources to help you with your unique academic needs, whatever they may be. The campus’ Academic Support Center provides free tutoring to any student who needs help studying for classes, and it also facilitates study groups and helps students with time management. The drop-in study lounge in Zimmerman Hall is a perfect place to set appointments with tutors for help with school subjects, study strategies, mentoring, writing proficiency exam help and more. The Write Place, located on the second floor of Trask Hall, provides assistance to anyone who needs help with writing and proofreading papers for class.

If you have a learning disability, the Academic Support Center and campus professors are always willing to work with you, whether those accommodations mean extended testing time, a quiet environment, help with note taking, audio texts or more.

If you’re worried about not being “good enough” for college or about getting in over your head right away, simply talking it out with your adviser is a good way to help too. Each of them help several freshmen and transfer students adjust to college life each year, and they are very understanding and ready to work with you, whatever your situation may be.

3. What if I have no idea what I want to study?

Don’t worry – many students don’t know exactly what they want to do when they first come to college. In fact, it’s common for students to change their majors, sometimes multiple times, before they graduate.

art classEvangel has several strategies in place to help you discover what area of study and career path fits you best. As a student at a liberal arts college, you will take courses in a wide variety of subjects and have the opportunity to explore what fields interest you most. Who knows, you may find yourself uncovering a new interest you never knew you had.

Evangel also helps you learn more about yourself by working to your strengths. Every Evangel student takes the Gallup Strengthsfinder, a 30-minute test that identifies the top five attributes that come naturally to him or her, whether they are Responsibility, Adaptability, Belief, etc. These “strengths” then become a language that academic advisers, clubs and organizations and even other students use to help you cultivate what you are good at.

“Much of education has been built around trying to shore up weaknesses,” Dr. Jon Spence, director of undergraduate leadership studies, says. “The study of strengths says there’s possibility. There’s opportunity, and the sky’s the limit if you focus your energies on building these.”

Academic advisers use your strengths, as well as your hobbies and interests to help you plug into areas of study and areas of campus involvement that you are excited to pursue.

4. What if everybody is dating but me?

College in general is a place where young adults form relationships with those of similar interests and outlooks on life, but that does not mean that not dating means you’re any less valuable of an individual. You can rest assured; not everyone here will be dating.

“We have a tendency to identify those around us who stand out due to what concerns we have at the time,” Brian Upton, director of counseling services, says. “If I am concerned that I have no one to date, those people around me who do will stick out like a sore thumb due to how much it reminds me of what I want. All the while, people who aren’t dating are either not identified or ignored so that the faulty belief, that ‘everyone is dating,’ can be maintained.”

Romantic relationships are only one of many types of relationships that you may form at Evangel. In fact, Upton says, a balance is required in our relationships. Focusing on just one to the detriment of others is a missed opportunity.

So, don’t worry about getting that fabled “ring by spring.” Take advantage of the numerous social opportunities here at Evangel. Many students form lifelong friendships with those they meet during their experience, whether it is through living in their residence halls, in their academic departments and in their clubs, organizations or sports teams.

5. What if I don’t have a car?

While cars are convenient to have, they’re by no means necessary. Several on-campus jobs are available to students, as well as a wide range of fun activities. Several restaurants, gas stations and a grocery store also lie within walking distance of the campus. And when you do need to go out and about, people who do have cars on your floor and residence hall are often more than willing to carpool.

“At EU, students are really great about offering rides to Walmart or the grocery store,” Logan James, residence director of Burgess Hall, says. “A lot of the floors in the residence halls also coordinate rides to church for students without cars.”

6. What if I get sick?

If you’re feeling under the weather, Evangel’s health center is just a phone call (or a walk over to the student union) away. You can make an appointment or walk in during business hours every weekday. Evangel’s nurse practitioner, Susan Bryan, can take care of almost anything that your family doctor would take care of.

At the Evangel Wellness Center, there is no office fee. The only possible expenses for your visit will be nominal charges for any supplies she may need to use and tests that she may need to do. Along with helping you when you’re sick, Bryan is available to give immunizations, checkups for mission trips and even just advice if you just have a health question you need to ask.

7. What if the dorm is too noisy for me to study and sleep?

All residence halls have set quiet hours from 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. every day, as well as round-the-clock courtesy hours. But if you find studying in your room gets too noisy during the day, most floors have rooms set aside for studying, and all residence halls have computer labs and study areas on the second floor. If you need a different place to study, Evangel’s library, which is located on the north side of campus, stays open most hours during the week and for select hours on the weekends.

8. What if I’m too shy to make friends?

At the beginning of your first semester here, you’ll experience EU Launch, an orientation and relationship-building experience meant to help you transition to college life and the Evangel community. Launch includes several social activities, both in large and small groups, to help you meet other students who are new just like you.

EU county fairAfter Launch ends, Evangel holds regular activities to help you continue to connect with other students as well as clubs and organizations. At the beginning of each year, a clubs and organizations fair helps new students know what’s out there to get involved with. The student-led Activities Board then holds regular campus activities, as well as floor and hall events.

Christy Rowden, student activities director, says that launch groups, residence hall floors and clubs and organizations provide you with several open opportunities to find friends, even if you might be a little shy at first. All you have to do is be willing to make a little effort to get involved.

If you find you’re struggling with making new friends, you can also always talk to your RA, RD, adviser or a counselor. They’ll be able to help steer you in the right direction to know where to get involved and meet the right kind of friends for you.

9. What if I really, really miss my mom?

The best way to defeat homesickness, Upton says, is to dive into the college experience and form relationships with those around you. Staying connected with family through phone calls, emails, Skype conversations — whatever your family finds works for you — also helps.

While some homesickness at the beginning is natural, if you find yourself substantially struggling, the Counseling Center offers free help to help you work through it. Upton says that students should be aware of the services the counseling center offers and should take advantage of them. He says hundreds of students each semester come in to talk about both small and large concerns regarding mental health, family and relationships and a wide variety of other issues. The center has three licensed professionals and a compliment of masters-level interns.

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