Things Aren’t Going the Way You Expected? There’s Still Time to Work It Out!

October 28th, 2015 No comments

You may be, possibly for the first time, facing the possibility of failing a class. Maybe it’s chemistry. (Just a wild guess.) And you may be, possibly for the first time, unsure where to turn or what to do.

But here’s the deal: Monday is November500px-Busy_desk.svg 2 – the UVM withdrawal deadline. You can choose to withdraw from a course you’re struggling in, and then take it again when you’re more prepared to handle it. Or, you can create a plan to put in the time required to improve your grade this semester – and work really hard.

How do you decide which to do? There’s no easy answer. If you’re thinking of going to graduate school, your grade point average is very important to preserve. If you’re not thinking of post-graduate study, you may be able to substitute another course for the one you’re currently struggling in.

The best choice is the one that will help you reach your goals . . . and talking with an advisor can help you reach that conclusion. If you’re one of those students who hasn’t made it in to 002 Rowell for an advising appointment yet, don’t worry! We’re still here and we want to help you.

Following the withdrawal deadline you have three weeks of classes; and then you have a week off. There’s time to spend working on material that’s been challenging you. But a word of warning: good intentions won’t help you reach your goals. It’s intention followed by action that makes a difference.

We can help you make the decisions you need to make, and recommend actions that will help you achieve your desired outcome. But the courage to recognize habits that aren’t working, and to change them, can only come from you.

Be honest with yourself. Take stock. And ditch the denial.

“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” – Mark Twain

Looking to get involved?

February 6th, 2014 No comments

As you may have learned from the recent Activities fest, there are tons of ways to connect! In fact, it can be overwhelming. How do you find what’s right for you? One way is to see what others are up to:

Angela Russo

Angela Russo

You might try to catch up with medical laboratory science major Angela Russo. It would be hard though. As a second semester sophomore fulfilling pre-medical requirements, Angela doesn’t have a lot of time. When she’s not in the clinical microbiology lab making media or plating samples, you might find her spending time with her COMFORT (College of Medicine Friends Offer Respite Time) family, or serving on the UVM Program Board, the Student Alumni Association, baking and frosting cakes for Cakes with a Cause, shredding the slopes as a member of the Ski and Snowboard Club, or introducing first years to UVM as an Orientation Leader. How does she balance it all?

“That is an interesting question,” Angela says. “When I was little, my parents threw me into every activity hoping that I would like something and continue with it. However, I always like everything, so I grew up with a busy schedule! Every semester, I make a color-coded master schedule of all my classes, labs, help

Ben Barnet

Ben Barnet

sessions, and weekly activities. As soon as I get exam dates or meeting dates, I put them in my phone calendar and planner. Then, I just take it day by day. When you really want to do something, put it on your calendar, and if it’s important to you, you’ll get it done.”

If Angela’s schedule seems a little too busy for you, maybe the relative tranquility of Ben Barnet’s life is more your style. Ben is a junior Communication Sciences and Disorders major, with a minor in Psychology. He’s an officer in the Speech and Hearing Club and a CNHS LINK. He loves his work with both organizations, but he says the most interesting thing that he’s done as a UVM student is taking yoga classes through UVM’s campus recreation department. In fact, he liked them so much that he signed up for Yoga Teacher Training, so he could pass on his love of the discipline to others.

Joy Benner

Joy Benner

Yoga’s not your thing? Try Active Minds. That’s what CSD junior Joy Benner does. She also enjoys spending time at the wheel as a member of the UVM Pottery Coop, participating in research with department faculty members, and volunteering at FAHC.

Collier Harmon

Collier Harmon

Nursing majors might choose to take part in the activities coordinated through the Student Nurses Association like Collier Harmon, a senior who is also a US Army Reserves Combat Medic.

Does ROTC appeal to you?

Ask senior nursing major, Ryan O’Leary about his experience. One of the most interesting things Ryan has been able to do was an internship in the Emergency Department at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Ryan O'Leary

Ryan O’Leary

Kerry Sawamura, another senior nursing major, fills her free time with the club sports softball team and as a tutor at the Learning Co-op.

Kerry Sawamura

Kerry Sawamura

If you thrive on physical activity, then you’re probably a lot like Ashley Mitson, a senior exercise and movement science major, minoring in Nutrition. Ashley is a valuable member of the UVM Varsity swim team, not only participating in the Conference as a first year student, but also scoring! When she’s not in training, she volunteers with the Catamount Leadership Academy through UVM Athletics as a member of the College for Every Student (CFES) youth mentor program. She’s also an active member of the Exercise and Movement Science Student Association.

Ashley Mitson

Ashley Mitson

Hopefully, these students’ stories have been inspiring – but if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, consider Angela’s advice:

“The way to be successful isn’t by signing up for a hundred things at once. Start with something you love and then find your passions along the way. That would be my advice to anybody looking to get involved. There are SO many opportunities on this campus; it is a shame to let them all pass by.”

Watch a musical tribute to UVM!

Home for the Holidays: A guest post by LGBTQA Center Education & Outreach Coordinator Becky Swem

December 2nd, 2013 No comments

snowglobeFinally! Home for the holidays…time to relax, visit with friends and family, and eat home cooked food. All the hard work of a busy semester is over and that time we were all looking forward to is here. What better way to wind down after a hectic semester than going home, right? But for many students, going home for the holidays is not the relaxing vacation that it may be for others.

One of the exciting things about going away to college can be the independence gained. Hanging out with friends when you want, going where you want to go, and doing what you want. That first semester, students often get to make more of their own decisions. You get to learn more about yourself and your identity. Then you return home for the holidays. Maybe family is not used to this independence and still treats you like a child. Maybe, in learning more about yourself, you and your old friends do not connect like you had in high school. You have this new part of your life at college, and sometimes it can be challenging fitting into your “old” life back home.

Going home for the holidays can be stressful for LGBTQ* students as well. Going to college for the first time, many students find a home within the LGBTQ* community. Having a sense of belonging and community is essential. When this support does not exist at home…going home may feel lonely and isolating. This is especially true for students who may not be out at home, or whose families reject them because of being LGBTQ*. Students may be able to be “out” at college, and then return home only to have to hide this part of their identity. Students may have become more confident and comfortable with themselves and decide to come out to family when first returning home for the holidays. This can make the holidays very stressful.

Traveling, preparing dinner, family members that may not see each other often…the holidays can be added stress for everyone. Many LGBTQ* people have experienced extra stress at the holidays when spending time with family. If you’re thinking, “yeah, this sounds like me,” know that you are not alone! One way that the University of Vermont’s LGBTQA Center celebrates the holidays is during our annual Home for the Holidays event. Each year, the LGBTQA* community gathers for a banquet dinner sponsored by all of our ally offices across campus. We gather to relax at the end of the semester, to eat a meal together, and to celebrate in community before we head our own ways for the holidays. Whatever you may be heading home to for the holidays, you always have your LGBTQA family here at UVM!

Stop by to see us!


LGBTQA Center’s Home for the Holidays Dinner
December 10 from 3-7 p.m. at the Allen House, 461 Main Street

UVM students, staff, faculty, and alumni are invited to join the LGBTQA Center for a holiday meal. Turkeys are generously provided by Sodexo and many vegetarian and vegan options are lovingly prepared by our campus partners that comprise the UVM LGBTQA community. Held on the first reading day of the exam period, Home for the Holidays is a wonderful way to casually connect with friends and colleagues before the winter break. For more information on volunteering to decorate or preparing a dish for the event, contact

For some additional resources, check out these helpful online guides:
Tips for a Happy Holiday for LGBT People

Read This Before Coming Out To Your Parents

Categories: alternatives, collaboration, events, social Tags:

Going home for Thanksgiving break? Read this first.

November 20th, 2013 No comments

turkeyThe weeks you’ve spent at UVM since August may seem to have flown by, but you’ve likely gained a whole new sense of independence and responsibility. Moving back in with family for a few days may feel cozy – and a bit awkward.

You are, possibly for the first time, in a position of having total control over every minute of your day. And your family is, possibly for the first time, in the position of having no ability to monitor your actions – or help you.

Add stress and distance to the mix, and it has all the makings for a communication breakdown. But there’s good news: you can help communication flow smoothly by setting a calm and mature tone.

Here are some tips for that post-turkey talk:

If you need to deliver news your family won’t like to hear (perhaps you failed a test or a class; or you got in trouble):

SAY THIS: “Do you have a minute to talk? Actually, to let me talk for a few minutes first? I just want to get it all out there before you react.”

DO THIS: Share what happened and acknowledge your role or responsibility for it. If you do, there will be no blaming questions that put you on the defensive. Remember to talk about what comes next. Will you get a tutor? Repeat the class? Go through a judicial process?

DO NOT DO THIS: Fail to share vital information with people who should know about it.

If you’re making plans that your family won’t be expecting:

SAY THIS: “I know I was planning to come home for Winter Break, but I wanted to talk to you about going to (other place) with (other person/people). I have thought about it a lot, and I would miss not being home, but I’ll be home three weeks later for Winter Break. I’d really like to be able to do this.”

DO NOT SAY THIS: “Hey, I’m going to New York for Winter Break with some people on my floor.”

If you’re telling your family why you don’t communicate as frequently or aren’t always available, or explaining why it feels like conversations are often tense:

SAY THIS: “I feel like we’re talking but there’s still tension. What’s really going on? Are you OK?”

DO THIS: Taking a mature stance is your best option. Helping people – yes, even your family – to take a step back and think about what’s really bothering them can help communication get back to normal.

DO NOT SAY THIS: “Why are you freaking out all the time?”

Changing the way you communicate with your family takes some practice – for you, and for them. Consider talking with an RA, an advisor, or a counselor if you want to think through larger communication issues or try out different ways of asserting your independence while respecting the fact that you’re part of a larger family unit where changes to formerly-usual communication patterns may be difficult.

Bottom line: There’s no better time to start. Just remember not to talk with your mouth full.

From one first-year student to another: A note about “fitting in”

November 14th, 2013 No comments

Dear CNHS student,

It’s 10 p.m. on Thursday night and the streets are bustling with eager students looking for a downtown house party with a keg stand and an endless supply of red Solo cups. It seems everyone else on campus is either sitting on the green “lighting up” or in their room doing the same. The push to join these activities can feel overwhelming. Except that you are a CNHS student with a minimum GPA to maintain and a Biology midterm on the cell cycle in the morning. You need to study. Perhaps you simply don’t enjoy these activities and would rather spend your time elsewhere.

The pressure to drink may be strong, but the consequences – which range from embarrassment after drinking too much to spending an evening vomiting and crying over a toilet to getting a citation or worse – can be severe.

How do you resist this pressure – and still retain friends?

I struggled with this personally as a first-year student and realized a strong will was all I needed. Whenever I was faced with the choice to drink or smoke I just said no.

As simple as that may seem, it was all I ever needed to say. If my friends continued to ask me to join them, I continued to decline. Eventually we reached an agreement. I don’t judge them; they don’t judge me.

Your friends will either respect your decision or you’ll find yourself re-evaluating those friendships.


A first-year CNHS student who’s been there, too

P.S. Some good sources of fun stuff to do –

  • Living Well in the Davis Center connects students who like to be healthy and active
  • Your Residence Hall Council offers lots of substance-free social events
  • UVM Bored has a great calendar and the Student Life page lists clubs and UVM athletics schedules

A Note from ACCESS (Accommodations, Consultation, Collaboration, and Educational Support Services)

September 18th, 2013 No comments

Students with disabilities or those who suspect a diagnosis can find resources in ACCESS. We work with upwards of 1,000 students each semester to provide accommodations like notetaking, exam proctoring, interpreting, removing residential or programmatic barriers, and disability related advising.

Disability advising centers around when and/or how to disclose, understanding your diagnosis, coaching on having conversations about accommodations, planning accommodations in future settings – study abroad, internships, advanced degrees, the workplace, etc.

ACCESS works with students who have any kind of disability, diagnosis or condition, including: Chronic pain, Attention Deficit Disorder, Lupus, Anxiety, Diabetes, Depression, Hearing Loss, Crohn’s, Eating Disorders, Learning Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Allergies

We can provide accommodations in many different ways such as: Classes, residential halls, events/activities/programming, clinicals, internships, study abroad, licensing/placement exams, etc. The Office of Institutional Research shows that students who begin working with ACCESS in their first semester tend to graduate in 4 years with a higher overall GPA. This may be because students feel they have a stronger support network and ways they can equal the playing field.

As one student stated in our May 2013 survey:

“Before I met with my ACCESS specialist I thought my grades and dreams were doomed. I had no idea how many options were available or what a huge difference they would make in my studies. I have gone from a C to an A average in one semester. The ACCESS services have been the most important positive change in my academic career. Thank you for all that you do.”

Our Senior Exit Interviews are another way we gain feedback from students who have used our services. We ask the following question of graduating seniors:

What advice would you give to incoming students who choose to use ACCESS?
The answer year after year can be summed up with: Use ACCESS early and often!

Other reasons to use ACCESS:

  • Opportunities for scholarships, internships, part and full time work
  • Understanding your rights as a person with a disability
  • Participating in workshops, stress relievers and/or Disability Awareness Month

Things to know about working with ACCESS:
If you know you have a disability/diagnosis/condition:

  • Submit documentation
  • Come to ACCESS at the beginning of each semester to help make your academic transition go smoothly.

If you suspect you may have a diagnosis and want to learn more about pursuing an evaluation:

If you have any questions about our services or process for accommodations, please feel free to come by our office at A170, Living Learning [across from Alice’s] or email us at Also, please visit us online.

We look forward to working with you!

Introducing the First-year Advising Program

August 27th, 2013 No comments

Our goal in the Office of Student Services is to serve as a first point of contact for academic advising and support of all kinds.

Students on UVM green in autumn

During the first weeks of classes, we’ll be available to help you adjust your schedule, navigate campus, or just chat about your experience at UVM. As the semester progresses, we can discuss academic progress, concerns, and opportunities.

We promise to be available to meet with you throughout the semester, particularly during registration and the add/drop period; to offer advice on selecting courses and developing your academic plan; to help clarify UVM policies, regulations, programs, and procedures; to recommend appropriate sources of information and services; to listen; and to discuss candidly with you your academic performance and its implications on your future.

In exchange, we ask that you:

  • Know who your advisor is. (Find out here!) You may meet with any OSS team member at any time.
  • Gather relevant decision-making information, and accept responsibility for decisions.
  • Keep your advisor informed about changes in your academic progress, course selection, and academic and career goals.
  • Be familiar with the requirements of your major and keep up-to-date with changes.
  • Be familiar with general university policies, procedures, and requirements. Understand that your advisor can make recommendations and remind you of rules and regulations, but that you have the primary responsibility for meeting program and degree requirements.
  • Keep your advisor informed in a timely fashion when personal issues arise that interfere with academic progress, so that 1) your advisor can refer you to the appropriate campus resources which can help you, and 2) your advisor has enough facts about your situation to be able to assess your academic progress fairly.
  • Contact and keep in touch with your advisor.
  • Come prepared to your meetings with your advisor.
  • Observe academic deadlines.
  • Ask questions until you understand.

(Excerpted from UVM’s advising roles and responsibilities)

We know a little bit about most everything UVM has to offer, and we’ll point you in the right direction or walk across campus with you to find what you need – whatever it may be. We provide guidance, support, course recommendations, and occasionally free food!

As a first-year student at UVM, you are one of 2,480 students representing 41 states and 10 countries including Canada, China, El Salvador, Germany, India, Israel, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. You are also a member of one of the most talented and diverse classes in the University’s history. We look forward to getting to know you better!

Our office, located in 002 Rowell Building, is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for walk-in visits and appointments.

See you soon,

Erica, Kari, Sara, and Simrat
OSS First-Year Advising team

Categories: advising Tags:
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