Tag: First-year students

14 packing essentials: A guide for incoming Lawrentians as they prep for move-in day

Alan Garza ’24, left, walks through campus during move-in day in September 2020. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Communications

You’re packing for college. We’ve got tips.

The following advice, written by Awa Badiane ’21, then a student writer in the Office of Communications, is a must-read for Lawrence newcomers. But it was written before the pandemic rearranged our lives. Karina Herrera ’22 has stepped in to offer an updated version.

This list of packing do’s and don’ts will be particularly useful for first-year and transfer students, but keep in mind that many of our sophomores have yet to live on campus because of the pandemic. So, for all those Lawrentians who need it, here are Awa’s packing essentials, with some helpful tips from someone who has been there, done that.

See you soon.

1) Power strip / extension cords 

Power cords are a MUST. You’ll have lots of things that will need to be plugged in throughout your room. There will come a time when you need to blow-dry your hair and charge your phone at the same time. To avoid having to choose between wet hair or a dead phone, get some power strips. Your room will not come with 20 outlets, but some days it’ll feel like you need that many. It will make dorm life so much easier if you have multiple outlets for all your electronics. 

Tip: Having one or two power strips is a lot more useful than a bunch of extension cords.   

2) Shower caddy 

You have probably heard of the joys of a shower caddy from the dozens of college starter packs you have been seeing. But just in case you have not given it proper consideration, trust me, owning a shower caddy is very important. This will be the home to all your shower items. College bathrooms are communal, meaning we have to share them. This also means you can’t leave all of your shower stuff in the bathroom. People typically bring what they need to shower with them using a convenient shower caddy. 

Tip: I find the mesh shower caddies to be a lot more convenient than the plastic ones. With the mesh shower caddy, you can hang it up on a hook while you shower. With the plastic ones, you have to leave them on the floor. 

3) Shower shoes 

Again, with communal bathrooms you have to share showers. Sometimes you’ll find that someone just finished using your go-to shower and it’s still wet. You’re not going to want to step in someone else’s shower water; get shower shoes. It also never hurts to be cautious of germs, especially in a pandemic.  

Tip: No need to waste money on “specially designed” shower shoes. Flip flops work just fine.  

4) Laundry bag with straps

If you don’t get anything else on this list, please do yourself a favor and get a laundry bag with straps! No matter how disciplined you are, you will not do laundry once a week. Your laundry will pile up and that’s OK. And when your laundry does accumulate, you will be very happy to have a laundry bag with back straps. How else will you be able to carry the three loads of laundry you told yourself to do last week when it was only two loads? 

Tip: Tide Pods make laundry a breeze.

5) Reusable water bottle 

We love sustainability at Lawrence. Because Lawrence is a campus that supports sustainability and reducing waste, we have lots of water stations all around campus. With a reusable water bottle, you can fill up throughout the day to ensure that you stay hydrated. And not that you need a mini fridge, but if you have one, I would also suggest investing in a water filter pitcher so that your water will always be cold and so you don’t have to mask up when you leave your dorm just to fill up your bottle. 

Tip:  A water bottle with a wide opening is easier to clean.  

Kianni McCain ’24 carries boxes into Ormsby Hall during move-in day last September. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

6) Storage bins 

You will need storage bins! Not only do they make it easier to organize your room, but they also make life so much easier when you have to pack up your room at the end of the year. 

Tip: Having storage bins that can fit under your bed is ideal. 

7) Medication 

During COVID, everyone is doing their part to stay healthy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch a cold or get a headache. You are going to be here for nine months, and that’s a pretty long time. We hope you don’t get sick during this time, but if you do catch a sniffle, you’ll want to be prepared. I recommend having some Dayquil, ibuprofen, and Emergen-C’s on standby just in case. 

Tip: The Wellness Center does provide free ibuprofen and aspirin. You can also get extra masks from there if needed.  

8) Bedding

Your room does not come with bedding, so you will have to bring your own. Make sure you find Twin XL sheets for the extra-long beds. Our rooms don’t get too cold, so you won’t need too many blankets. A few sheets, a comforter, a couple blankets, and some pillows will be just fine. 

Tip: Invest in a good mattress topper! It will last you all four years, and your back will thank you for it. 

9) Décor 

Do not stress over décor. This is the fun part. Make your room a space you enjoy being in, but don’t lose sleep over what to put on the walls. Do not let Pinterest make you spend hundreds of dollars because you think your room is not good enough; your room is good enough.  

Tip: Command Strips are gold. And remember: the more décor you have, the more stuff you have to worry about packing at the end of the year.

10) Cleaning supplies

You will be living in this space for about nine months. Throw in this pandemic and … yes, you’ll need to clean your room. I suggest having a broom, dustpan, lots of Clorox wipes, and plenty of hand sanitizer. You can also get a mini hand vacuum for pretty cheap online — it doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to work.

Tip: You can clean your whole room with just Clorox wipes. Believe me. 

11) Plug-ins

Scented plug-ins are not necessarily a must, but I do highly suggest one. Spray air-fresheners are not banned, but they are frowned upon. Having a plug-in means you don’t have to worry when you have guests over because your room will always smell like your favorite scent.

Tip: If the scented plug-ins are not your style, diffusers work great, too! 

12) School supplies 

For some reason, when people go back-to-school shopping for college, they forget they need school supplies. (Honestly, the only reason I remembered to get school supplies my first year was because I saw my little sister picking out pencils and markers.) Three 3-subject college-ruled notebooks, a pack of pencils and pens, index cards and some Post-It notes is all you’ll really need.

It’s also a good idea to pick up travel-sized hand sanitizer to add to your backpack. You could even buy those fun hand sanitizer holders for cheap off of Amazon. Also, don’t forget to have plenty of masks. Lawrence will provide disposable face masks, but make sure you have a couple of washable ones on hand, too.

Tip: You can wait until after the first day of classes to get all your school supplies. See what your professors say you’ll need on the first day, and then go to the store and get exactly that. Still bring a pen and some paper, though!

13) Winter coat

Winter is coming. When winter is here, you’ll need a coat. You won’t really need your heavy-duty winter coat (if you don’t have one, get one) until winter term, though. If you can, wait until winter to bring your coat because it takes up space. Beware, there is a period near the end of fall term where it’s too cold for a sweater, but not cold enough for your real winter coat. I would suggest bringing a jacket for when that time comes.  

Tip: Invest in layers that you can wear in winter. 

14) Mini Fan 

Contrary to popular belief, it does get warm in Wisconsin. At the start of fall term and the end of spring term, you will be very glad to have a fan in your room. 

Tip:  Get a box fan and put it against an open window. It will feel like air conditioning. 

OK, that’s the list. I hope it’s helpful. Good luck. Move-in day for first-year students is Sept. 8 and 9. Returning students follow that weekend. Let’s get packing.

Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Hello, Class of 2025: It’s OK to be nervous; we’re all looking for ways to connect

Connecting with others on campus is part of the college journey. After more than a year of pandemic protocols, we may need a little help along the way. We’ve got some advice. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Karina Herrera ’22

For any incoming first-year, starting the journey as a college student can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Throw in a year of mask-wearing, social distancing, and other pandemic protocols and you’ve got a recipe for added anxiety.

As the beginning of the new school year draws closer, you might be unsure of what to expect or worried about making friends. That goes for not only first-years but also for all those sophomores who spent their first year remote. I’m here to help. Here are nine things that helped me meet new people and form lasting friendships when I arrived on campus three years ago.

1Take advantage of Welcome Week: Welcome Week is as it sounds—a time when you and your fellow first-years will move into residence halls and be welcomed to campus. There are a myriad of activities over several days that are specifically designed to help you meet new people and aid you with the transition to college life at Lawrence. Engaging in these activities will provide you with an easy opportunity to start making connections with other first-years before the rest of the student body arrives on campus. You can ask someone from one of these activities to grab a bite to eat in the Warch Campus Center or go for a walk along the river or even tour the education buildings together to figure out where your classes will be held.

2Attend residence hall activities: A fun way to get to know the students in your residence building is to go to the events hosted by your community advisor (we call them CAs). In the dorm’s lobby during their night shifts, they will set up movies, have various game nights, order pizza, and sometimes make pancakes. There is no work involved for you. Just enjoy. All these activities are opportunities to mingle, and the best part is, you don’t even have to leave the building!

Student organizations offer a great way to meet new people. Here, students participate in a hike during Camping 101, an event hosted by the Lawrence University Outdoor Recreation Club in May. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

3Join student orgs: There are more than 100 student-run clubs and organizations on campus, all looking for new members. Click here for the list at Lawrence.edu. Want to learn how to swing dance? Or do you really like improv theatre? Itching to go on a camping trip? There are clubs for all of these interests, but on the slight chance that Lawrence does not already have the club you’re looking for, no worries. You can form your own, and it’s really simple! Here’s a link for a how-to guide; on the page it’ll tell you to review the Student Handbook and then you simply have to fill out a club recognition request form. Joining a student org is a sure way to follow your passions and connect with other Lawrentians. You may even learn new skills along the way.

4Go to sporting events: Even if you are not athletically inclined, you’re in luck—cheering on the Vikings only requires your enthusiasm. Even if you have no idea what’s going on, it’s OK because there is usually someone sitting near you who is in the same boat. Making connections through shared confusion is a fun way to start those friendships while also showing support for the athletes. And as a captain for the women’s basketball team, I can attest to how much we appreciate it when we see the bleachers filled with students cheering us on. Lawrence provides a free shuttle service to take you to and from the athletic facilities, but here’s another tip for forging connections: Skip the shuttle and walk to the Banta Bowl or Alexander Gym. It’ll be quality time with your new friends.  

5Visit the Downtown Appleton Farmer’s Market: This weekly event is a great way to spend a Saturday morning in the fall (or summer if you stay on campus) with a friend. Beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 12:30 p.m., College Avenue from Appleton Street to Drew Street is closed off to vehicle traffic so vendors can sell a variety of goods. You’ll find everything from fresh produce and baked treats to handmade items and artwork—often while listening to live music. So, grab your roommate or a new acquaintance and take a stroll to experience one of Appleton’s summer and fall favorites.

Lawrence students volunteer at Feeding America in January 2020.

6Get out and volunteer: Volunteering is an awesome way for students to connect. Make friends while helping to educate kids, comfort animals, or save the planet. Lawrence’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) works hard to educate students about their role as citizens in their community while also promoting a wide range of volunteer opportunities. The CCE is not the only an avenue for volunteering but it’s a great resource to meet others along the way.

7Go to the movies: Seeing a good movie is always a great option when building new friendships. The campus movie theatre on the second floor of Warch Campus Center features free movies for students every Friday and Saturday night during the school year. You can even fill out an online form to make suggestions for specific movies that you want to see, and there’s free popcorn. It’s a fun way to spend a weekend night and connect with others. Did I mention the free popcorn?

8Embrace the arts: I hope you’re not too attached to your socks, because they will be knocked off while watching a performance in the Conservatory, whether it’s our own students or visiting artists. Attending events in the Con with your new friends is a must. This is one of the true perks of going to Lawrence. We have a world-renowned music conservatory right here on campus. Not many schools get to say that. I’ve enjoyed watching many of my friends perform in various ensembles and have had my ears blessed while listening to music recitals. And there are amazing theatre and dance performances, not to mention opera and other musical feats. Music is quite literally happening all the time on this campus.

The Trout Museum of Art, located adjacent to Houdini Plaza in the heart of downtown Appleton, is a short walk from campus.

9Get outside the Lawrence bubble: There doesn’t need to be a special occasion for you and a fellow newcomer to step off campus and explore Appleton. College Avenue has a comprehensive selection of fun downtown spots, including coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques, art and various crafting stores, and so much more—even I haven’t seen it all and I’ve been here for three years. But it’s not just shops. Check out the various trails and parks within walking distance of campus (the Lawe Street Trestle Trail is my favorite). Also, be on the lookout for student rush tickets for shows at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (nothing wrong with cheap tix to a touring Broadway show), book a tour of the History Museum at the Castle or visit the Trout Museum of Art, all short walks from campus. These are just some of the great ways to get to know other students who also are new to Appleton.

Bonus tip: Follow Lawrence and Appleton social media pages. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the Lawrence website, it’s a good idea to stay connected to your new community. Keep tabs on news updates, insights into your fellow students and the Lawrence faculty, and details of coming events on campus or nearby.

Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Anxiety over registering for classes? Here are 11 tips from a student who’s been there

Thelma B. Jimenez-Anglada, assistant professor of Spanish, teaches a Spring Term Spanish class. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

Planning your schedule is the first step in setting the tone for the academic year and there’s always plenty of course options for your first year at Lawrence. But registration can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. Don’t worry, though. There are people to help, and once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy, and these 11 tips will help ensure you get off on the right foot.

1. Think about your schedule OUTSIDE of classes. Are you leaving yourself time to stop by Andrew Commons for lunch? Do you plan to have a job that will impact your schedule? Make sure your class times don’t conflict with your life outside of academics.

2. Know yourself and how you learn best. Do you work best early in the morning? Do you want periodic breaks throughout the day or back-to-back classes? And no matter what, don’t forget to consider your sleep schedule.

3. Remember that classes are usually offered multiple times. Especially as a first year, even if a class isn’t offered every term or even every year, you’ll likely have multiple opportunities to take a course if you are trying to choose between two classes offered at the same time.

Tyler Scott ’23 takes notes during a Hot Rocks geology class. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

4. If you really want to take a class that is full, immediately get on the waitlist and reach out to the professor to let them know how excited you are about their course. There might be a bit of wiggle room in class capacity or someone else might drop the class, which will make room for you.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions when you meet with your summer advisor. That’s what your advisor is there for. They know the whole process is new to you, and they want to help you and share their expertise.

6. Trust your instincts. It can be overwhelming to look at the full course catalog and narrow it down to three classes (or two since you take First-Year Studies your first two terms) especially after years of having your schedule basically decided for you. Whatever classes stand out to you are probably going to be the best fit.

Danielle Joyner, assistant professor of art history, works with Maren Stone ’22 and Izzy Thompson ’22 during a Spring Term class in the Wriston Art Center. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

7. But at the same time … remember where you are in your studies. During your first year, you’ll mostly be taking 100- and 200-level courses as you accumulate the knowledge you’ll need to excel in more upper-level classes. That 400-level seminar will still be there when you’re a senior.

8. Try to have a good balance of subjects. Three lab courses or three writing-intensive courses within one term probably isn’t the best idea.

9. If you don’t have the necessary prerequisites for a class you want to take, reach out to the professor to ask if you might qualify in a different way. Sometimes, classes you took in high school or unique experiences you’ve had can be substituted for the pre-req. But remember that those pre-reqs are about making sure you have the background and experience necessary to succeed in the course, so really think about (and maybe check with your advisor) whether the class is a fit for where you are in your academic journey.

10. It’s OK if you don’t know your major yet. Explore a variety of different subjects! Even if you think you know your major, first year is a great time to dip your toe into other interests as you start to figure out your own college path.

11. There are lots of resources to help you. I’ve already talked about your advisor, but there are more people who can help. The Registar’s Office is a great place to ask questions about the ins and outs of registration. And if you need help with anything related to academics, from academic counseling to procedures, the Center for Academic Success is your one-stop shop.

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.