First exams are coming

First exams are coming, kinda like “winter is coming.”  Yes, I just quoted Game of Thrones.  “Winter Is Coming” is the motto of House Stark, one of the Great Houses of Westeros. On Game of Thrones, “winter is coming” is a warning to be vigilant and prepare for the worst. The Starks, lords of the North, strive to be prepared for winter, which hits their lands the hardest.  (Hits us hard, too, but not ‘til December.) For now, be like the Starks (minus the Red Wedding episode) and be vigilant in your preparation for your first exams.  There’s a D in cold, but there doesn’t need to be one on your transcript.

How will you prepare for the upcoming first round of exams?  Have you made study guides, met with tutors, done all the readings?  No? If not, you’re probably not alone, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or couldn’t start now.

Some ideas on getting ready:

  • Attend NH50 study groups
  • Review the learning objectives in your syllabi
  • Do the Chemistry problems
  • Attend any and all Supplemental Instruction sessions
  • Book an appointment with a tutor
  • Go to your Professor’s office hours
  • Go to your TA’s office hours
  • Ask other students in your class how they are studying
  • Pair up with someone in your link group and study together
  • Speak to your advisor
  • Make flashcards of vocab terms (quizlet works!)
  • Rather than re-reading the text (again) test yourself by responding to the learning outcomes at the beginning of the chapter

It is completely okay to be nervous for your first round of college exams.  It is not like high school. You might not know what to expect.  I have mentioned before that my way of doing assignments was doing it all in one night. This is not actually a best practice.  Especially with exams.  Going over the material in advance and in increments will make you feel a bit less stressed and help you retain information long term.  That said, everyone gets nervous about an exam even if you think you know the information cold.

The night before an exam, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Feeling tired before and during an exam won’t seem fun and won’t be helpful.  Eat something beforehand. Your brain is about to do something amazing- feed it!  Being Hangry and Taking an exam do not mix.

When it’s all over, join the links and fellow CNHS students for pizza, chocolate, and conversation at the First Exam Debrief, 5:00 p.m. on September 26 in Rowell 118. Celebrate and commiserate with each other now. Stay vigilant. The next round of exams is coming soon.


Creating Your Plan for the Week

So the first week has come and gone.  Mixed emotions I am sure were had by all.  First week of classes has happened and you received documents that will help you be successful.  Those documents are called syllabuses.  Find them, study them, plan them out, be friends with them.  Of course the subject materials that are in the syllabuses will ultimately be the main factor in being successful in those courses, but actually knowing when that subject material needs to be covered or when an exam is or a paper is due is extremely helpful.

Some of you might have already gone through these syllabuses and planned out your entire semester and when and what you need to do.  However, some might have not even opened it up to take a look.  It is not too late if you are in the latter category.  Take 15 to 20 minutes and read them.  Plan your week at least and then make a plan to plan for the following week.  Being on track will make it less overwhelming than cramming it in the night before. Trust me, I did it constantly while I was in college.  I constantly wrote papers in one night, pulling that all-nighter and afterwards being a zombie for the next couple of days.  Was it worth it?  No.  Do I wish I could have figured out how to get things done in advanced or in small increments, oh hellz yes.  My roommate could plan it out and on the night before the paper was due, she would be doing a couple of tweaks and saying goodnight while I was still plugging along on my computer figuring out where my paper was even going.

In looking at your syllabuses and planning your week, I would highly recommend figuring out where there is me time or friend time or basically just fun time.  There is so much pressure to do everything all at once.  You are trying to navigate a new place, making new friends, and balancing that with still doing well in your courses.  It is a lot to take in and I know that the FOMO is real (yes I looked up what that actually stood for, showing my age).  Staying in to do those chapters will bring less stress in coming weeks.  I know, I know,  easier said than done, right?  I might not be in college anymore, but I do get it.

I still need help planning my week, I still need to make time out of my week to actually see what the week will entail.  For me weekly planners work for a couple of weeks and then i stop taking time to actually put down what I need to do.  I think I am going to remember it all.  Spoiler alert: I don’t.  This is why I have decided to plan on Sundays from 3pm to 5pm.  I am going to remove myself from all that is a distraction.  Since I will be planning my week, why not open it up to you all.  Join me on Sundays from 3pm – 5pm in Rowell 001 (across from the Office of Student Services).  Doesn’t need to be something you go to for the full two hours or even “on time” at 3pm.  Join me, put your earbuds in, and take 15 minutes to figure out what is in store for you for the week.  Use the space to prepare; I will be there no matter what.



First week of a new academic year

Right now you are half way through your first week of classes.  For some it is new for you, for others it may be just new subject material.  Whatever year on campus is for you, the first weeks are exciting, overwhelming, and exhausting.

In coming weeks you will begin to settle into routines.  You will come to know when the dining hall has the best hours for you to not have to wait as much.  You will find out when the gym is the quietest or if you like the most social the most crowd.  You will start to recognize more people on campus and even if you don’t know their name you can at least place them.  In class you will have your unofficial assigned seat and will probably get pissed if someone sits in your seat.  It is an unwritten rule and one that most students hold to the letter of the law.

Be sure to take advantage of what the Week of Welcome offers.  It is a chance to observe, participate, and learn a multitude of clubs, functions, and societies on campus.  Most of the time it comes with free food.  I mean who doesn’t want free food.  Sometimes there is even UVM swag that is pretty cool.  I would stress that if you are trying out something completely new and maybe even something that you might not want to return to, be respectful, ask questions, listen, it might surprise you what you can learn or come to understand.

Make sure to set some boundaries for yourself as well.  When discovering new things on campus, make sure you make a plan of how things will fit.  It is truly impossible to do it all and it is okay.  Sometimes people forget that simple thing, it is okay.  Talk to your roommate(s), communication is key.  You may click now and things are fantastic and you are doing EVERYTHING together.  That is fantastic, but remember it is also okay to talk to them and say I need some time apart, doesn’t mean you don’t want to hang out with them at all, but everyone needs their space.  Figure out a system that works.  Or you may not click at the moment or at all.  Yeah that might be miserable, but communicate, figure out what will work.  You don’t need to be besties, but you do need to figure out how to live for the next year, semester, week, or day with them.

My freshman roommate and I were not best of friends and it was a tough year living together.  Sharing a space that size when you are not used to it or even if you are used to it, is tough, especially if you do not get along.  From what I know now, I wish I communicated more with her.  I wish I knew that it was okay we weren’t going to be lasting friends.  She transferred her sophomore year, but over the summer before she started her new school, she reached out to me and asked what could have been different.  I truly wished we had that conversation during the school year.  We were able to be honest with each other and I truly hoped what I told her helped her with her new roommate.

Twenty years ago last week, I stepped foot on my college campus for the first time and my two best friends.  This coming weekend I go off to Maine to visit with them.  I am not saying you are going to find your best friend in the first week of school, it happened for me, but I know it doesn’t always happen for everyone.  But I can tell you, during these past 20 years (especially the four during college) were not always sunshine and rainbows.  We had our ups and downs and we made it work.  And not to harp more about it, we communicated to make it work.

If you can take anything away from what I have babbled on about make sure you communicate and take care of yourself.  Enjoy the rest of the week!!

Welcome Class of 2022!

Today marks the start of the first of many orientations that are happening throughout June for the new incoming class.  Some of you or even most of you haven’t even graduated from high school.  You haven’t even finished that chapter of your life and you are already being asked to plan for your next.  College is your next chapter and during those four years, we are going to be here to help give you the tools to be successful in many more chapters.

A lot of information over the next two days, the next months, will be thrown at you in many different directions.  We here at CNHS recognize it is a myriad of information that you have to retain, so the information, because it is important, will be repeated to you multiple times in different ways.

We want you to be successful.  We want you to be prepared.  However, you will start a transition from high school to college.  A transition that might come easy to some and hard to many.  Classes are different, there is more freedom during the day, you don’t have a family member nagging you to get things done, or even your professors won’t give any reminders on when big papers are due or to do your homework.  You are going to be learning how to navigate this new level of responsibility and it might come naturally, and it might not.  (It is truly okay to ask for help, we want to help.)

My first semester of college was definitely eye opening.  I did well in high school with minimum effort.  I had structure that worked for me and was able to balance school work, varsity sports, a job, and friends.  However at college, playing field hockey at the collegiate level, not having class every day and just trying to make friends and be social was a bit more difficult that I thought it would be.  It took me a semester, seeing my final grades, and a big stern (but with love) talk from my parents to have me realize things at college will not be as they were in high school.

We in CNHS Office of Student Services (OSS) are resources for you to get what you want out of your next four years.  We at CNHS OSS are the beginning of your next chapter of your life that will help guide you.  I am going to show my geek side and use the example of, we are like Gandolf in Lord of the Rings that is starting you on your adventure.

Outside UVM

Study abroad is a topic that is very popular with any college student.  Who wouldn’t want to spend a semester in Rome, London, or Barcelona?  However, a semester abroad experience might not be in the cards for a CNHS student, because of your highly sequential curriculum.  Is it not completely impossible?  No, it is not, but it could take a lot of planning or reshaping of exactly what your idea of study abroad would actually be.

Many students when they hear about study abroad they think the experience is going away for a full semester.  I have to admit that is how I think of it, at first.  I, myself, did a full semester study abroad experience and I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my experience and/or think of someone that was on the trip with me. The experience I had was one of the top 3 reasons on why I attended the college I did.  I knew going into college that I would need to make some sacrifices in order for my semester away to be possible.  I went to college and played field hockey which is a fall sport, my study abroad experience was going to be in the fall semester.  I chose not to play one semester in order for me to go away.  My study abroad experience also had no classes attached to that would go towards my major, besides a three credit independent study course.  I was already behind in my curriculum courses as I switched majors my sophomore year.  When I came back, I played catch up for two semesters.  I took up to 20 credits each of those semesters and still managed to play field hockey my last fall.  Was it hard?  Yes, extremely.  Was it worth it?  Absofreakinlutely.  I reshaped my four years to make what I wanted out of my four years to work.

Since working with students here at UVM, I have discovered that study abroad experiences come in all different sizes (semester long, week long) and shapes (local to international).  Talking about study abroad earlier on in your college career is beneficial.  Even though it might not be what you decide to do, it helps start the conversation to get you to where you need to be to be successful in whatever you want to accomplish.  I have spoken to students that start out strong with making sure they do a full semester.  We talk through it and go through options, what will it look like, who do I need to speak to first, how am I going to afford this?

First and foremost, speaking with your advisor would be your starting point.  Our different majors have different four year curriculum plans.  Advisors know when it will be the best time for you to do your study abroad and what it might look like.  Make an appointment with them and start to discuss your options.

Before you get to your appointment with your advisor, do some research on study abroad.  On the College of Nursing Health Sciences website, we have a page that is dedicated to health related abroad experiences.  We have one semester long option for Nursing students that will keep you in your four year curriculum.  Other options that we do have are what are called short-term travel study programs.  They could be anywhere between one to four weeks.  They are either over winter break, spring break, or during the summer.  These options are great experiences and they keep with your four year curriculum plan and they don’t have you missing much class to continue on.  Also, most help fulfil one of your Diversity credits.

If by chance, the options on our website do not fulfill what you think your study abroad experience will look like, bring those questions/concerns to your advisor appointment as well.  It helps to have your questions ready to go to help facilitate the conversation, so they can lay out exactly what your options will be.

CNHS’s majors are highly sequential and in order for you to accomplish what you want in your major, your priorities might shift. This is okay.  This in life happens and though it might feel like it sucks for you not to get that semester to Rome/London/Barcelona in, but this does not mean you will never get to these places in your life.

Classes are just the beginning

You are in the midst of your 12th week in your spring semester, the snow has melted though any UVMer knows that there is probably another storm on the horizon.  The days have become longer which is a welcome sign as the winter months are long here in Vermont.  You are working your way towards the end of your first full year or potentially your last semester of your college undergrad career.  Whatever it might be you are starting to figure out the next steps.  What will my fall look like next year?  For a majority of the current students it is looking at your specific curriculum and working through the schedule of courses to find your CRN numbers and marking what days and times your required courses are going to be held.

In the College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CNHS), we have planned out your four years.  You know you are in highly sequential majors and there is hardly any wiggle room for you to figure out what to take next.  Unlike most majors at UVM, you don’t have to worry about when registration day rolls around.  You have to get in to these classes, only you can get into these classes and they are also only solely open to your specific cohort.  It takes the pressure off of making sure you get what you need.

What else can be done?  Are you planning on doing a minor?  Do you want to do an internship?  How about some research?  Your sequential academic plan doesn’t have to be the only courses you take here at UVM.  In speaking with students they talk about minors, “I have to minor, it will look good on my resume.” Not necessarily.  Sure, a minor can do can help bring prospective to your major that can be a unique approach or fits just nicely in what you are majoring in.  For example, nutrition is a popular minor with CNHS students.  Nutrition and a health related field just seems natural.

However, you might find yourself wondering how am I going to factor in an additional 15 to 18 credits to minor when I have such a highly sequential schedule?  This is where your four year plans come into play, along with speaking with your advisor.  What are your priorities?  What is it that you want out of your four years at UVM?  What do you want to look back on with fondness when it is your first year out of college, your 20th year?  You are here to definitely get an education and you will have the curriculum to get you to the place you need to be at when you walk across that stage in May, but what can add to your experience?