By Tori Rodgers

Everyone has anxieties, big and small, about starting college in a new place; diving right in as a freshman can be scary. We’ve all been there, so let’s check up on the new kids on the block this 2019 fall semester.

As the freshman class president and a part of the track team, Carmen Krichbaum, a business administration and accounting double major, sums up the life of a college student quite well: “I feel very busy… I always have something every day.”

“At the beginning of the semester, everything was new,” Justin Betts, a computer science major, said. “But once you give it two, three weeks, you kind of get the hang of the habits and routines… and the stress is more manageable to handle.”

Mitch Bodager, a business administration and accounting double major, concurs that the stress has gotten better; especially after midterms.

“I feel good that midterms are over,” Bodager said. “I feel like this [may be] the calm before the storm… I’m trying not to get too relaxed to where I get behind and that everything hits me all at once. But right now I feel pretty calm.”

Elizabeth Dyke, a middle childhood education major and softball player, also feels a lot better now at this point in the semester than she did coming in.

“I’m a lot less stressed,” Dyke said. “I’m able to plan my schedule out a lot better now than I was [before].”

Molly St. John, a zoo and wildlife biology major and color guard member, also has gotten better with figuring out her schedule and continues improve her methods.

“I have to get into a rhythm depending on [how my] schedule’s going,” St. John said. “It’s just kind of working with being able to find where the piles of work are versus the easy times.”

For Frances Constable, a middle childhood education major, a concerning thing coming in was less about the work, and more about the living space.

“I was super concerned about living in a dorm… especially because I have such a close-knit family,” Constable said. “But then I came and really liked the dorm life. I can’t imagine being a commuter.”

Josof Ruttig, an integrated language arts major, was nervous about getting along with people too; but not just in the dorms.

“Coming in, I was nervous I wasn’t going to have [any] friends,” Ruttig said. “But I’ve made a lot of great friends… in that aspect, I feel good.”

For him, the GEN 100 College Experience course has been instrumental in that process.

“I’ve met some of my closest friends [in GEN 100],” Ruttif said. “It’s been cool to expand horizons and… that’s sort of the point of it.”

For Justin Betts, his GEN 100 section has a lot of conversations that broaden freshman’s horizons due to their variety of lifestyles and beliefs.

“The people in the class are very diverse in what they believe in,” Betts said. “They’re not afraid to express it, which makes the discussions we have very interesting and kinda meaningful and deep, because we can bounce ideas off of each other.”

Elizabeth Dyke has enjoyed getting to know all of the other people in her section as well and has liked several of the topics learned in class.

“I like how we incorporate faith… and the discussions we have in class,” she said. “But I feel like sometimes the workload is a bit extensive.”

Despite this, Dyke has had an overall positive experience with GEN100 and very much appreciates the aspect of having an upperclassman course assistant (CA).

“I got to ask him one-on-one questions just about his experience and how he’s handled his academics and his athletics up until this point,” Dyke said. “He’s really able to give us some solid advice for how to succeed here.”

Betts agreed: “You can talk to them [CAs] on a more personal level too, like with problems that normally you wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to a professor about.”

Having a CA is especially important to Carmen Krichbaum and her GEN 100 class, one of the two honors sections.

“We did not have her one day and the whole class just felt like it fell apart without her,” she said. “It was crazy; we didn’t realize how much we needed her until we didn’t have her.”

Molly St. John is a member of the other honors section and really enjoys the collective drive to do well in the honors program in general. In her opinion, the more discussion-driven classes are a great asset for learning.

“Inside of the class we have to speak and because we’re all overachievers, we all end up talking,” St. John said. “It’s fun and we connect and laugh and make fun of each other.”

Mitch Bodager is another member of the honors program.

“I do feel like there’s a little bit more of a relational feel [with] the professors in those [honors] classes,” he said. “It feels like a more group relationship… [They’re] more open and relaxed than some of my other classes.”

Outside of classes, some freshman, like Frances Constable, are involved in the work study program. Constable works in the Admissions office as an Ambassador, and really enjoys it.

“It’s a job, so it’s another thing that you need to take on,” she said. “[But] they’re good at working around your class schedule… which is really important.”

If there’s someone that knows about working around a schedule, it’s an athlete; specifically, soccer player Justin Betts.

“It took me about a good eight weeks… to find a good balance between soccer and school work,” Betts said. “That comes with working ahead.”

He also really appreciates the team aspect of sports; it helped him a lot, especially in the first few weeks of school.

“Having that group of guys really took a lot of stress out of trying to fit in,” Betts said. 

Other student athletes, like Krichbaum and Dyke, also really love the community of their respective sports teams.

Another community on campus is the theater. Josof Ruttig an active member, as seen last month in his two starring roles in the fall shorts festival. He’s looking forward to being a part of the spring play and other future theater events not only for the love of the art, but also because of the familial feeling he’s experienced.

“They’re so welcoming,” Ruttig said. “I’d recommend it to everyone… There’s a lot of valuable skills that you can learn by performing in front of people.”

Molly St. John similarly encourages people to join the band community, especially if they are coming in with some previous experience. She is involved in percussion for the symphonic band and colorguard for the marching band. With these commitments comes responsibility.

“You’re self regulated,” St. John said. “When you are having a hard time and when you have mandatory extra practices, that’s when you need to add more [time practicing].”

It’s a part of finding the balance in her schedule, and though it can be stressful at times, St. John loves the band.

Carmen Krichbaum has a unique extracurricular few can claim: she is the Student Senate freshman class president.

“I’m trying to plan a class event around the end of the semester,” Krichbaum said. “Senate has office hours all week so we’re always up there if anyone needs to talk to us.”

She encourages taking advantage of these hours; Krichbaum would love to hear students’ ideas, especially for any future freshmen events.

For the future semester, Josof Ruttig strives to get his procrastination under control and possibly try out scheduling his time.

“Instead of kind of sporadically doing things as they come, [I want to try] having set times for homework [and] friend[s]… to keep me on track and keep me ahead of schedule,” he said.

With softball season starting soon, Elizabeth Dyke has to watch her schedule as well.

“Keeping a level head and taking care of myself [is important],” she said. “Next semester I get to start my education classes… I’m really excited to dive into my major and see what it’s about.”

Frances Constable is eager for the same thing: “I’m looking forward to going into field experience for education,” she said. “I’m really excited that I get to start that so early [because] I’m only a freshman.”

Molly St. John is looking forward to her psychology classes and the new opportunities coming soon for her in zoo and wildlife biology.

“I’m looking forward to… the hands-on stuff that we’re going to be doing in the zoo,” St. John said. “There’s internships that we can take in the summer and those look like so much fun.”

Justin Betts has several goals: “I’m trying to pull off mostly As,” he said. “I do want to form more friendships and relationships… and obviously make it to the playoffs for soccer.”

Mitch Bodager is also looking to meet new people and develop deeper relationships.

 “Staying close to my section and hopefully some of [the people from the other honors section]… and keeping those relationships prioritized is important to me,” Bodager said.

Cameron Krichbaum is passionate about her sport and can’t wait for spring to not only have practices, but meets as well.

“I’m really looking forward to track season,” she said. “I’m [so] excited for it!”

As the freshman class president, Krichbaum offers wise words to her fellow students as they finish this semester and look forward to the next: “Be social, make lots of friends, and don’t forget to eat!”

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