SIOUX FALLS, SD - "I won't make any friends, the professor will be too tough, and I will probably get lost on campus." If you've been thinking these thoughts, it's likely you're about to start your first year of college. The whole college experience tends to stress out a majority of students. That's why a local professor has a special assignment for incoming freshmen. They're 10 simple steps, but they can make your path toward a diploma much easier.
Young men and women usually go to a university or college for one thing: they're hoping to find a major.
"I really love the feeling of just learning," Josh Barrows, Augustana University senior, said.
The days of walking around campus are numbered for Barrows, because the senior is close to walking at graduation.
"I started thinking about my first year here. Seems like it was quite literally yesterday," Barrows said.
In those days, Barrows was just hoping to make it to tomorrow.
"18-year-old Josh was broken down into tears. He thought he would have no friends, because going to college - leaving everything - so he was very nervous," Barrows said.
Barrows was so nervous he only had the nerve to do this:
"The night before I flew to Sioux Falls, I told my mom I was actually not going to go," Barrows said.
Fear certainly tested the now 22-year-old college student's will, but he passed and now the rest is history. It's pretty common for students to worry about their future. So, for now, take a seat and a deep breath. Patrick Hicks's class is now in session.
"We're happy you're here, take charge of your education, it's ok to be nervous, failure is your friend," Hicks said. Hicks is an English professor and the writer-in-residence at Augie.
These are a few highlights of an article Hicks wrote. It's called "Starting College this Fall? 10 Things a Professor Wants You to Know." It's essentially a guidebook for students.
"It's from the perspective of what it's like to be on the other side of the lectern, so it's a professor - maybe not expectations, but advice from a professor that goes beyond 'turn in your homework,'" Hicks said.
Here are some CliffsNotes. On the topic of the professor- student relationship, Hicks writes: "You've made a big decision about your future and it's one that your professors do not take lightly. You're the reason we teach. Welcome." Here is another bullet point: Setting your brain on fire. Hicks points out, "The world will appear more vibrant, more colorful.... A giant light bulb has been switched on and you'll find yourself doing extra work because you want the answers — not the professor — you." When it comes to failure, Hicks has this advice: "This will happen in college. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Make the next assignment better."
"Ironically, I think what makes me the happiest is seeing a student who maybe is not doing the best work academically, but they come into my office and I see they're working really hard. Really hard," Hicks said.
There is also advice about letterman jackets. Hicks says you should cherish all of the high school accomplishments the jacket represents, but leave it at home. It represents who you were in high school, not who you are now.
"Dive in and make wherever you've chosen to go to university your home. Forget the letter jacket and make your new university your place," Hicks said.
Barrows says he could've borrowed a lot of this information to make his first days a lot easier.
"I can only imagine if I had felt that comfortable coming in how much more growth I would've been able to have outside the classroom as well as inside the classroom," Barrows said.
If you didn't write any of this down, don't worry. The list is online, and it's not required reading.
Brady Mallory: "So, first day, are you going to walk in and say, 'who read this list and all of you get out if you haven't?'"
"I'm not even sure if I'm going to assign this list to my own students," Hicks said, laughing.
When it comes to college, Barrows says there's a lot to learn.
"There's a higher calling than just getting an A or just getting good grades, just even learning. It's like how do we us that to be good shepherds of the earth, shepherds of the community, different things like that," Barrows said.
Hicks says, it's true, you're here to focus on your major. Just don't lose sight of every minor thing around you that makes college life worth living.
"It's not just the learning that'll happen in class. It's the learning that'll happen when you're at the library or goofing around on a Friday night with friends or the late night conversations that you have, or those moments you're really frustrated, because it's in those moments you're learning," Hicks said.