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First year Q&A: Delving into an unofficial school survival guide

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After a whirlwind week of orientation and a couple more of classes, some first years (and older students) may still have some questions about how New College works. Here are some questions collected from real first years during lunch at Hamilton (Ham) Center about the New College experience that older students may also find helpful. 

What is the free store? Where is it?

The free store is on-campus thrift store where everything is free. However, because of unruly mess, Student Affairs has asserted the free store must be in a closed area with a locked door. The free store in Goldstein Lounge has been shut down and the new location on the second floor of Z Dorm will open sometime soon.

When is the bike shop open? What do they do there?

 The bike shop is usually open from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. The bike shop is located behind the fitness center. Student bike shop workers are paid with student fees so services are free and new parts are available to purchase at wholesale prices.

What is the Forum? How do I get added to it?

The forum is an email server through your gmail, akin to a giant group chat for whoever wants to participate. Although some threads occasionally break out into ideological shouting matches, the majority of posts consist of announcements, minor favors and passing thoughts. If you would like to be added to the forum, contact the forum moderator, paul.domke17@ncf.edu

How do I schedule an appointment with the Counseling & Wellness Center (CWC)? When is a nurse available? 

Walk in to the CWC or call (941)-487-4254 to make an appointment for mental health counseling. There is also a nurse practitioner available for appointments and walk-ins on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon. There is also a licensed practical nurse available on Tuesdays from 1 p.m to 5 p.m. for follow up appointments: they can draw blood or re-dress wounds but aren’t allowed to write prescriptions.

How do I get an on campus job?

Check the listing on Handshake, accessible via myncf.ncf.edu. Click on jobs in the upper sidebar and then the filter for on-campus jobs. Alternatively, stop by the office during business hours. 

How do I schedule an appointment with the CEO?

Appointments can be scheduled through Handshake by clicking on career center in the upper right corner and then on appointments. One can also stop by and schedule an appointment in person. Thesis student Sydney Clingo advises, “Don’t be afraid if you have nothing to bring into those meetings (i.e. resume, cv, essay, etc.), the resources there can help you start and develop these.”

What is ISP?

The Independent Study Period (ISP) is a magical time in January set aside for students to do whatever they want…academically. Students have the choice to work with a professor individually on a research project or choose from a plethora of group ISPs. Thesis student Natalie Shafer advises, “Treat your ISP as a chance to bulk up your grad school resume! Don’t wait until [the] last second and join any random group project just to get it over with. Every year counts, even first year.” 

What do our degrees mean? And what are AoCs? How about slashes?

Once you’ve fulfilled all your requirements and passed your baccalaureate (“Bacc”) exam your fourth year, you will receive your degree. New College awards degrees in the Liberal Arts and your area of concentration is not listed on your diploma. Areas of Concentration (AoCs) are equivalent to majors at other schools. Slashes are kind of like minors at other schools but students can combine two slashes and create one joint-disciplinary AoC.

How do I change my advisor?

There is not a formal process for changing advisors, which is only done by asking a new professor to sign a contract. “If you can’t work well with your advisor, it’s not hard to switch, and it will make your life so much easier,” thesis student Aiden Juge said. However, make sure to inform the previous advisor. 

Bonus advice from thesising students: 

Bailey Cowden on organization and study habits:

Instead of adopting the study habits that you think are ‘correct’, find the strategies that work for you. The main takeaway from my NCF experience can be distilled in the phrase: comparison is the thief of joy. Some people love journaling and detailed planning and reward systems. These do not work for me. They feel like a waste of time, so I don’t use them. I have set myself up for success by scheduling study times in an environment that works for me. In addition to creating my own personalized study rituals, I have refined my style, hobbies, and work during my time at NCF. When I do these things for myself rather than for others I am so much happier. Experiment with what study and life practices work with you. You are your own unique creature and should have a way of life that reflects your complexity and beauty. 

Shannon Smith on failure:

It’s okay to make mistakes or to not do as well as you wanted to have on something (an assignment, a paper, a test, etc). It’s how you deal with the effects of your mistake or dissatisfaction that matters the most. Take those moments of failure and make them into learning opportunities. Ask for help when you need it, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors or advisor(s). They’re there to help you!

Sydney Clingo on caring for yourself:

Take time to visit the bay, especially during sunset (and try to take the scenic route around the native plant restoration area)! Listen to the birds or try to spot different creatures running around you (the lizards and squirrels here are dope and prevalent)! Look at the trees, the diversity of plants we have here, and all the lichens! 

Enjoy yourself and take time in the day to stop, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that it will be okay.  You are awesome, and you do not have to do everything at 100+% to still be awesome. You are not defined by your accomplishments, and you deserve time to rest and enjoy yourself. 

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