You don’t know what you don’t know

And that’s okay. You’re going to do great in college, but here are six tips to make things easier.

The first week of college classes is here. You’re excited and justifiably so. You’re about to meet people from all over the world, learn from brilliant professors and enjoy new experiences on campus and possibly abroad. There’s also that nervous side that hears jargon that makes sense to students who’ve been on campus a year or so or had parents with a college degree who can help them navigate college life.

Don’t worry, because we’ve asked some smart Linfield people for advice on how to make college less stressful.

Every professor is required to be in their office for a set amount of hours per week. We assure you they aren’t spending that time playing Words With Friends. It’s time they’ve set aside to meet with you. Send them an email and schedule a time to talk.

“Conversations with professors during office hours are a great way to develop your leadership skills and gain valuable information about academic fields and careers. Linfield faculty are dedicated to providing individual attention to students and they truly enjoy meeting with you during office hours. Discussions with your professors will make you a better leader and problem solver by challenging you to develop your communication and critical thinking skills. Office hour visits also provide valuable information about jobs, internships and research opportunities. Finally, faculty who see you during office hours are in a great position to serve as a reference or write you a letter of recommendation in the future.” — Jackson Miller, dean of faculty

All first-year students received videos, like this, with advice on being successful at Linfield.

College isn’t a solo mission. You’ve got help from academic and peer advisors during a one-credit class called Colloquium.

“One of the most powerful ways for a student to make a successful start at college is to establish a strong connection with their academic advisor. Our new student transition program, Colloquium, is taught by faculty and peer advisors and jumpstarts this connection. Involved students see their advisor regularly to enhance their quality of education — this is where transformational learning happens!” — Ellen Crabtree, director of academic advising

It’s highly likely that you’ll receive a document with everything you’ll need for a specific course on the first few days of classes. It’s your syllabus. Can’t remember test or assignment dates? It’s probably in the syllabus. Tip: take a picture on your phone the moment you get it, so you’ll always have a copy with you.

“Have a question about your course, like how many points an assignment is worth or whether your professor accepts late assignments? Before asking them, check your syllabus! It outlines key information like the goals of the course, how you are graded, how to contact your professor and when you can meet with them. Some professors include a schedule of course readings and other details in a syllabus, while others provide this in a separate document like a course schedule. The syllabus is an important part of every course you take!” — Kevin Curry, director of video and digital media, adjunct faculty for journalism and media studies

Bingo. It occasionally snows, too. But you’ll also encounter many days of gorgeous sunshine. So, dress for success and comfort.

“Remember that we are in the Pacific Northwest (a.k.a. the PNW). This means the weather can change from hot and sunny to cold and rainy. For times when it gets warm (think beginning of school and end of school), we recommend light jackets, shorts and tank-tops. During the winter, we suggest a rain jacket, heavy coat, pants, long and short sleeve shirts, sweaters and sweatshirts, and a pair of boots (rain or other). You may also want to bring slightly nicer clothes (if you have an interview or need to dress professionally for a presentation), tennis shoes and shower shoes, along with socks/other personal wear and stuff to wear to bed.” — Catherine Dirksen ’19 & Carson Ryder ’20, residence life assistants

Take Professor José Angel Araguz’s advice and speak up in class. It’ll only help you succeed. He even has a mantra, and they are great words to live by.

“Speaking up and asking questions aloud is the beginning of moving away from not knowing. Questions are the beginning of your conversation with the course material. Questions are where you find out what about the material interests you, and how to make that outside knowledge your own. If your job as a student is to learn, speaking up in class helps you do your job better — and helps your professor help you do it better, too. Keep in mind, if for whatever reason you feel uncomfortable asking a question in class, be sure to ask it after class, or in office hours or even email.” — José Angel Araguz, assistant professor of English/creative writing

Family achievement guilt is a real thing. You’re away at a beautiful campus and meeting new people. Back home, you have family and friends who absolutely want to see you succeed.

“Guilt is a feeling many first-generation students experience on campus. This guilt of new-found opportunities their parents have never had can inhibit students from fully taking advantage of all the opportunities colleges have to offer. Colleges and students should be partners in helping students mitigate the guilt so that students can thrive at their fullest potential.” — Gerardo Ochoa, special assistant to the president and director of community relations

Travis McGuire, director of social media

A university that connects the liberal arts with practical education through collaborative, service and experiential learning opportunities.