The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: NACURH 2014

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Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season (if you started singing that song you get my reference), but I love this time of year as well!  It all started in 1987 when I attended my first NACURH conference at Central Michigan University.   It was a blast!  At that time, believe it or not, I was a junior in college and active in my hall government.  I was recruited by the MACURH Director to serve as the regional secretary.  This was long before computers – we addressed paper newsletters by hand and phone calls were the norm vs. texting or e-mail.

I remember running down a hill at NACURH’89 with all of my regional besties lined up to do our roll call dance to Grease Lightning.  I also remember hours of van rides and airport delays anticipating the fun that we were going to have at the conferences.   Fast forward to 2014 and I’m working at OCM preparing for NACURH 2014.  I still anticipate the fun travels that will ensue and now being a NACURH veteran, I look forward to seeing many people that I have met during my time with OCM.

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Now before you think I’m ancient, I share my NACURH history with many friends who have chosen to serve students as a profession, so I’m not the only one with memories of past NACURHs. And, I want to you to know that the adage of “the more things change the more they stay the same” holds true.  There are some cool traditions in NACURH that still exist (some with a twist).  There is still the fun (and drama) that comes with traveling with your schoolmates, co-workers, and friends.  There are the happy travelers who revel in the fact that they are getting to go on a trip. Then, there is the “are we there yet?” traveler who wonders what the heck they signed up for when saying yes to a 14 hour bus ride followed by 3 days of non-stop cheering and extrovert overload.  NACURH continues to provide the excitement of meeting new people, presenting a program, wearing matching outfits 3 days in a row, cheering until you lose your voice, bidding and winning awards, opening ceremonies, roll call, board meetings and the closing banquet.   There have been some tweaks to all of these things – the cheers are more inclusive, the outfits are probably a little cooler, the presentations are much more high tech, and attendees have most likely already met via social media prior to the conference starting.  What hasn’t changed? That feeling you get arriving at the conference knowing that something great is going to happen! 30 years later, I still have that feeling.

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NACURH 2014 is going to be a great experience for everyone involved.  Forming friendships during regional travels and expanding that circle to the national level is one of the highlights.  There’s nothing better than that surge of school pride you have when seeing your logo or mascot on a screen. Not to mention that moment where you hear your school name being announced along with one of your friends who won an award. These unique and special moments continue to be the wonderful moments that NACURH brings year after year.   NACURH provides a time for celebration to honor a successful year while also creating a venue for new leadership opportunities. Students and advisers from across the country get the opportunity to collaborate ways they can continue meeting the needs of the next group of students coming to campus in the short following months.  To me, this is about as close to the holidays as you can get!

It’s Time for Final Preparations and Orientation!

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Well, there is less than a month left now until most of you leave for your first year of college. The nerves and the excitement are probably starting to set in as you realize that all of your hopes and fears are becoming a reality. While you may be overwhelmed right now, I can honestly say that your anxiety and worries won’t last too long. For many of you, orientation is coming up and will enable you to meet new people, learn about your college, and get a feel for what college is going to be like. Here are a few tips for getting through orientation:

1. Pay Attention!– Orientation serves as a solid transition to what college is going to be like without the classes. Your parents are gone, you’re living with a roommate, and you get to see what the campus is really like. You’re going to learn about registration for classes, advising for your major, and overall, what college life is really going to be like. I know I was completely overwhelmed during orientation since it was such a major change in my life, but I made sure to listen to the information that was given to me because I knew that it would be handy in the future. However, you don’t have to worry about memorizing all the mass amounts of information you’re given because you’ll have advisers and friends help you along the way, but try to take in as much as you can; it will pay off in the future.

2. Get to know your RA– Don’t be scared to get to know your resident adviser. Your RA is there to help you. If you ever need help with finding a class, getting a general question answered, or getting back into your room when you’re locked out (It happens more than you think), your RA is the person to go to. You definitely want to be on good terms with him or her because they can be one of your greatest assets in adjusting to your new environment.

3. Meet People– Orientation is about getting used to college life and what better way to do that than by making friends? I think that I met more people in that one week than I did for the rest of the year. It’s actually funny looking back on it and seeing how I became friends with some of the people that I now call my best friends. Orientation gives you a chance to meet people and then build upon those friendships throughout the rest of the year.

4. Get Involved– I know that I had the ability to go to a number of seminars and meetings on various topics including clubs, sports, Greek life, and differences between classes and I tried taking advantage of them as much as possible. Not only are these information sessions helpful, but they allow you to meet people with similar interests. You might be at a meeting for the soccer team and find somebody who is a fan of the same team as you. You may be sitting next to somebody in a lecture on the varying biology courses and find that you both have the same major. The possibilities are endless and really trying to do things that interest you are a good way to be involved and stay informed.

5. Have Fun!– Keep in mind that orientation is your first impression on your future classmates, professors, advisers, and friends. While that sounds like there is a lot of pressure on you, try to stay calm and enjoy it. These few days are the moments that you and your friends will laugh at in the future. I know most of my friends didn’t even know I existed during orientation because I was quiet and kept to myself. However, that soon changed once I became closer to them and more comfortable. Lastly, remember that orientation should be taken seriously, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun on the side!

College Do’s and Don’ts

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By now, you’re probably sick of hearing how much of a change college is going to be in your life. I remember hearing it from my parents, teachers, and guidance counselor and I know that it gets old quickly. However, after going through a year of it, I can say that it really is a major adjustment and the more prepared you are for the change, the easier the transition is. Here are some basic do’s and don’ts to help you survive freshman year.

DO: Plan out your semester’s classes in advance– No matter how big or small your school is, you can never be sure that you’re going to get into the class that you want. Courses fill up very quickly and you should definitely figure out what you want beforehand so you know exactly what to sign up for on registration day. Have a backup plan in case something goes wrong and always try to e-mail the professor to see if you can get into the class after it fills up. The more prepared you are, the better off you’ll be.

DON’T: Plan out your entire college career– I already made this mistake during spring semester. While it would be nice to know exactly what you’re taking every semester, it just isn’t realistic. You don’t know what classes are going to be filled up, if they will even be offered, or if you still want to take them. I know I’ve considered changing my major a countless number of times and one change can screw everything up.

DO: Have a social life– Going out with friends is a good way to have fun and try to forget about some of your stress. Don’t think that you have to work 24/7. You do deserve a break every once in a while.

DON’T: Forget that school comes first– Remember that you do need some breaks, but make sure you are keeping up with your school work. If you get everything you need done, then feel free to go out, but don’t get used to it. Don’t forget that your primary reason for going to college is getting an education; having fun unfortunately comes second.

DO:Get some sleep-You’re going to find that it can be very difficult to do considering the work load, but really do try to get sleep every night. It might be hard to figure out a normal sleep schedule, but do your best. The faster you can figure out a sleep schedule, the more rested you’ll be and the easier it will be to do well.

DON’T: Oversleep– On the other hand, if you don’t get enough sleep, sleeping through classes may become a problem. If you miss classes, you will fall severely behind and it will not be easy to make up. Like I said before, really try and figure out how much sleep you need to function and make sure you actually get your necessary amount of sleep.

DO: Try new things– College is a chance for you to reinvent yourself. You can now do the things that you may have been afraid to try in high school. If you always enjoyed playing sports, but didn’t think you were good enough to play in high school, you can try it out in college. This is your chance to do what you enjoy and not have to feel judged or embarrassed.

DON’T: Feel peer pressured to do something you don’t want to do– Make sure you set your limits and don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable doing. Don’t feel like you have to be a completely different person in college. This is a chance for you to be the person you want to be, not a completely different person.

These may be just a few guidelines to follow, but they are really easy ways to not only have a great freshman year, but an amazing college experience as well. The best way to sum it all up is to just make sure you have a balance. It might take a while, but when you can find a balance between your social life, school work, and relaxation, you’ll be ready for anything.