Advice: General


Columnist Sarah Poyer offers her perspective on the college experience and friendly tips for new students navigating Iowa State.

Sarah Poyer

College has been a weird mixture of fun, anxiety and learning for me. I came to college with my whole life planned out, and now, two years later, I am on a completely different path. I think college is a time to learn about not only yourself but your people and the world around you as well. I would say I am a completely different person from my freshman year until now. 

My first piece of advice for you all is to trust yourself. I know, a scary thought, but seriously, trust yourself. You know yourself better than anyone else on this planet, so you will know when too much is too much, or a situation does not feel right.

Talk to your people. Your academic adviser(s), your Community Adviser (CA), hall director, professors, friends and family can help guide you. You may need help or advice, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask. Your academic adviser, CA, professors and hall director are all here to make sure your four years go as smoothly as possible. Let them help you; I promise they are on your side. 

Branch out. Try something new and see if it is up your alley. I decided to join the juggling and unicycle club. It was amazing. I have learned to do so many cool things that I would have never known about had I not gone with my friend to practice one day. Go to ClubFest and see what amazing clubs we have on campus. Get involved and try new things. Being a well-rounded person looks great on your resume, but you will also make some new friends that can help you on your journey. 

Write things down. No matter how much you can remember in your head, you will forget things. Get a planner or some kind of system and use it to keep track of assignments, exams, classes, club meetings and whatever else you need to keep track of. Personally, my planner helps keep me afloat in terms of when I need to get things done. You may need to try a few methods out but definitely use a planner. 

I am saving my two most important pieces of advice for the end. College is a wild ride, so study and have fun. You are here to earn a degree, so make sure you put in the work for it. Study and do well in your classes by putting in the best effort you can give. But also have fun. College is a special four years in your life. Have fun with them. Enjoy your adventure. 


Pinterest is full of lists of things you should bring to college. I remember being a senior in high school and being overwhelmed with worry about what I should/shouldn’t bring to school. I was worried about bringing things I would not end up using, which I did do, but I also found a bunch of items I needed. First off, I recommend bringing a planner. College is a lot different than any other type of schooling you will have experienced before. You are in charge of yourself, and so keeping track of classes, assignments, exams, extracurriculars and even jobs or friends is really important. Other than that, I do not have much I would say you HAVE to have. I feel like it depends on the person, as everyone is different, and our packing lists will also be different. 

When living in a dorm, you are likely going to be sharing your space with someone else, so I recommend communicating thoroughly with those other people (or person depending on where you are going to be living). You don’t want to both show up with the same items and have too much for your space. Communication with your roommate or roommates is very important because you are sharing the same space. Conflict is bound to happen, but communicating and working through the conflict is very important. Your CA will likely be available to help you and your roommate or roommates work through any conflicts or issues you are having. Your CA is an amazing resource, so I recommend getting to know them. They can help you out a lot more than you might think. 

Meet people on your floor. I know we are still living during a pandemic, which has been a very isolating time. College is where you meet some of your best friends, so try to branch out and meet new folks. Leave your door open if you can and say hi to the folks walking past your room. Or maybe try studying in the den and see if you make a new friend that way. 

College can seem scary; it is an overwhelming transition. But you have people on your side. Your CA, your academic adviser, your hall director, your professors and so many more want to help you succeed. You will do amazing on your new adventure, so trust yourself!