1. Don’t be afraid to talk to other people.
The people in your hall, and maybe even in most of your classes, are new too. Reach out to your fellow classmates to try and build bonds with people. This way, you can have people to hang out on the quad with.
2. Read the syllabus.
Yes, I know it can be boring, but teachers spend their time making them for a reason. Your syllabus will cover pretty much every possible question you have on the course. Also, be prepared for this answer when you ask your teacher a question: “It’s on the syllabus.”
3. Try and use all of your punches.
Believe me, I am the world’s worst at not using all of my punches (I even had to make a schedule of how many I had to use in a day)! If you don’t use them, it’s a waste of $7 for every one you don’t use. So, if nothing else, punch for a couple bottles of water.
4. Make sure you have good rain shoes.
This happened on campus last year (September 2015). The parking lot of Mr. Chips was completely flooded, along with numerous other parking lots and the football field. It rains quite frequently in Harrisonburg, and after the rain ends, there is a distinct smell of dog food.
5. Go to class.
I cannot express how important this is. Skipping class is okay in the event of an emergency, but do not take a lot of “personal” days (limit: 2 per semester). Although teachers say “attendance isn’t mandatory,” you will learn the material the best if you are in class.
6. Take advantages of the amenities.
JMU has so many cool features available that it’s hard to get bored. For example, UREC (our gym) has activities for everyone from fitness classes to a hot tub. The Student Success Center has an area where you can go to paint for relaxation and tutoring (which is free) to help with a variety of classes, and finally, you can end the day at Grafton-Stovall to watch a fairly new movie for super cheap.
7. Go to your professor’s office hours.
Professors are people too. They may seem very intimidating, but usually, they are more than willing to help you if you go to their office hours. It shows them you are putting in the maximum amount of effort to try and help your grade (sometimes they’ll even curve your grade if you put in extra effort).
8. Be prepared to fight with the train.
Whether it’s trying to get to class on time or trying to get some rest, the train runs through JMU during all times of the day; so make sure you create time for it in your schedule, so you can make it to class.
9. Don’t buy your textbooks unless you absolutely have to.
Textbooks can be super expensive (especially from the Bookstore). Try and use sites like Amazon, Chegg, or the JMU Book Exchange group on Facebook to find your textbooks for cheaper before resorting to buying them.
10. Your dining dollars will go faster than you think.
Let’s face it, buying Starbucks from Carrier is expensive, and if you buy a Grande Mocha Frappuccino every day, your Dining won’t make it a full semester. Try and budget your Dining so that you can have some during finals week to get that Frappuccino with.
11. Find YOUR place to study.
Whether it’s one of the libraries, Madison Union, Student Success, or the basement of your residence hall, you need to find a place where you can escape the chaos of a normal day to get your studying done.
12. Don’t be afraid to go to your RA.
RAs are there to help you. Speaking as an RA myself, I want to do nothing more than help my residents. Whether it is trouble with your roommate, or you just need someone to talk to, your RA is there for you to utilize.
13. The computer lab in ECL stays open 24 hours a day.
This is a nice spot to go if you need to finish an Access project (or any kind of project), but the libraries are closed. Although, it’s definitely a hike to East Campus from the quad.
14. Join a club/organization.
JMU has so many different organizations from sororities and fraternities to an Anime Club. Whatever hobbies you have, odds are, there is a club for it here. There is also a Student Org night every year, where the clubs and organizations gather to give out information on themselves and answer any question you may have. You can also go to JMU’s Get Involved page to find a full list of clubs.
15. The bus system can be tricky.
While the stops continually flash across the fronts of the buses, it is sometimes difficult to know where the bus is going. There are a few different apps available that have the bus routes listed, but worst case scenario, just ask the bus driver if the bus stops at the destination you need.
16. You don’t have to love your roommate.
It is often idealized that you have to love your roommate or life will be awful. I am here to say that is not true. You can just be cordial with your roommate and still have a successful year (I ended up being closer to the other girls in my suite than my roommate!). Of course it is nice to have that connection, but as long as you respect each other, everything will go smoothly.
17. Stay on top of all of your assignments.
Due dates tend to sneak up on you before you know it, and when teachers don’t give but three tests a semester, you can’t afford to forget a test. Set up some way to keep up with your assignments whether it’s a planner, calendar, or a printed sheet of paper with the due dates listed in chronological order.
18. We love acronyms.
We have a very special lingo here at JMU. Walking around campus you may hear these terms “ECL,” “TDU,” “UREC,” “SSC,” and “Showker” to name a few. In time you’ll come to learn what each of these mean, and hear many more shorthanded terms; so don’t freak out if some upperclassmen seem like they’re talking gibberish to their friends.
19. Get ready to walk!
I am not exaggerating at all when I say this, especially if you spend a lot of time on Main Campus. There are so many hills and stairs (the worst set is either the Godwin or ISAT stairs) on campus that your legs will be toned in no time if you just opt to walk everywhere instead of taking the bus.
20. Make sure to take time out to clean your room.
This is super important. When you are living in close quarters (a.k.a. dorms) germs can spread extremely fast, and before you know it, the whole building has the flu. So, do yourself – and the people around you – a favor by taking some antibacterial wipes and wiping down your room, bathroom (yes, even if it’s cleaned by housekeeping), and common areas to try and minimize the spread of germs. Also, don’t forget to keep your hands washed, especially during the winter months!