Sinine Nakhle & Rima Rassi
Career Services Officer & Graduate Studies Officer
Your senior year of high school may have been the best year of your life – or it may not have been all that it was hyped up to be. But that’s all in the past now and your first year of AUB is your big opportunity to start fresh. Here are some tips we thought you might need to hear if you’re a new student embarking on an undergraduate adventure.
1. It’s not high school anymore. Welcome to real life.
With big change comes big responsibility. Gone are the days when your teachers would run after you to submit your assignments. Your parents won’t receive notifications about tuition fee deadlines, your family will never really know your class schedule, and the professor teaching a 200-student lecture may not even know your name! You’re on your own now – and it is great! The readings, course work, deadlines, projects, and class times are for you to follow-up on. You’re going to have to take initiative. Ask questions about tuition fees, seek out problem solvers at relevant AUB offices, take appointments with your adviser/professors – anything that will help make your transition smoother. And that includes meeting new people! This is a great time to socialize and be open to meeting people you probably had not had the chance to meet before. Get out of your high school bubble – don’t just stick to your high school clique (although the familiarity may feel good during this big change) or to fellow students in your major. Try meeting new people from different cultures and walks of life in your elective classes, the cafeteria, or even sports try-outs! You should know that all of this requires the exercising of your time management skills, so that you can juggle between your course load, your new peers, and your family. More importantly – enjoy this new phase of your life, have fun – but make sure you know what is expected of you.
2. You will have an existential crisis, and that’s a good thing.
With a plethora of courses, majors, and potential careers to choose from, you are likely to suffer from an acute phase of Existential Crisis – especially if you’re an FAS student. It is always anxiety provoking to feel like you don’t know where you’re going, or why. But that is exactly what will make you grow, because that uncertainty will make you look around, and most importantly, look into yourself. No, seriously. The transition into college entails so many social and personal changes that you may want to zoom out, take a breath, and observe. Take the time to get to know who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to invest your time. Do some introspection. What values matter most to you? What kinds of activities do you enjoy doing? What are the courses that you find especially interesting? Do you like groups, or do you prefer staying alone? Do you enjoy presenting to the class, or do you hate the spotlight? What about writing papers or other forms of content? It is important to know what you are already good at, and what you want to develop. That self-awareness will allow you to reflect on what it is that you want out of, well, the rest of your life. And that is an ongoing process that will keep changing as you go. Unsolicited tip? This is the time for you to determine what you think is meaningful.
3. Discover resources lurking around your campus.
AUB’s campus is the best possible platform to help mold your experience before you graduate. Take a brisk walk around (or just try to take in your surroundings as you run to class) and discover the various buildings, classes, and classrooms that will be hosting you for many hours in the three to four years to come. And for you history buffs: AUB’s buildings have a ton of history that is really fascinating. Also – did you know that AUB houses the third oldest museum in the Near East (which you can also conveniently visit between classes)? You should also find out where the gym is, get to know where the counseling center is located, and who your career services officer is in your faculty. Get familiar with the location of any service that is available to you as an undergraduate student. On the academic side, look through the programs that are available at AUB and consider taking up double or dual majors, minoring in fields you are interested in, and for those of you who like to share your knowledge with the world, check out what it takes to get a teaching diploma. To stay in the loop on all these issues, the easiest thing would be to like and follow media pages of different departments and student societies. You never know – one Facebook post may change your life. And finally, get to know your faculty, and know them well. Feel free to consult them on issues related to your major or minor. In your dealings with professors, you want to approach them professionally, and be humble – you may ask these professors for recommendations to grad school in the future, and you can’t build a relationship with them overnight.
4. Engage with the people around you, and build deep pockets before you graduate!
We have some bad news for you. We know you just got here and all you want to do is find the best foul or fatteh place on Bliss (e-mail us for recommendations), but you might want to know that today, employers expect you to have 3-4 years of experience upon graduation. This means that you might want to ‘up your game’ early on, and consider your campus as a workplace. How? Stay active, stay connected, and take up any micro work opportunity you can find. Break out of your comfort zone. Participate well in class. Reach out to your professors, assist them in their research projects however you can. It’s good experience, and will have you earn a solid recommendation letter from someone who can vouch for your character, academic standing, and research potential. Stay connected with students as well. Join a student club or society. This experience will teach you all sorts of skills you will need to market to your future employers or admissions officers. And why don’t you opt for becoming the vice president or president of that group after you familiarize yourself with their work? Employers and admissions officers today look for “leadership potential”. It says a lot about your character if you have managed and lead other students to organize campus activities – it also means you’re connected and have deep pockets – which is worth a lot more than only grades. Make sure to engage in all sorts of activities around campus too. Stay up to date about what is happening around you. Attend events, workshops, conferences, and talks that tackle topics you are interested in. Think about what skills or pieces of information these events might give you, and invest your time accordingly. Staying active is a way of getting to know yourself and filter your interests. By the time you reach your Junior or Senior year, you would have been equipped with some changeable but important conclusions about your personality and career aspirations!