10 Tips for the Best College Experience

After one academic year under my belt at CNU, I feel qualified enough to know how to make the most of my college experience for my next three years. Here are 10 tips I can recommend to any incoming freshman (or all students) at Christopher Newport to have the best possible experience here!

1. Get involved on campus. Join a club or activity that’s challenging to you. Join one that isn’t. Join ones that relate to stuff you’re passionate about! Campus involvement is encouraged for everyone here, and it’ll help you to meet new people and get out of your comfort zone.

2. Have a few favorite study spots! Studying is a major part of college life for all classes, tests and final exams. Make sure you find a few different places where you can concentrate and get the most out of studying. Having a variety means you can switch up where to go if someone steals “your spot,” so you won’t just be stagnant at your desk whenever you do so (unless that’s preferred, of course).

3. Go to all of your classes! This might sound annoying, but most people’s schedules won’t be filled with multiple classes each day like in high school, so there’s no reason to not show up.

4. Be active! This is one of the few times in your life that you’ll live somewhere with a free gym, so take advantage of using the Freeman Center and all of its resources. Personal trainers and group fitness classes are also way cheaper than they’ll be in the future (or over the summer, if you’re especially dedicated) if you choose to take them when you’re an (older) adult, so if you feel so inclined try those out, too.

5. Enjoy the little things. Go to Einstein’s to get a milkshake in the middle of your study session. Spend an afternoon exploring the Noland Trail. Spend some time reading in the Ferguson Center’s secret garden (if you can find it)! College was made for having unique experiences that you can’t have at any other time, and at CNU there are limitless opportunities for those.

6. Don’t miss out on Tender Tuesday or Buffalo Wrap Wednesday. After being here for a couple of months, you’ll understand why this is so important and essential to CNU life. Once any CNU student’s had these, they’re hooked for the entirety of their time here. Try either, and you’ll understand why the lines are so long for them every week.

7. Go to your professor’s office hours. This is something I can’t stress enough. At college, professors see you on a more equal level as people, rather than just students like your teachers probably did in high school. They’re extensive sources of information and are so wise and helpful, so getting to know them outside of the classroom and having real discussions in their office hours can be really beneficial. This semester, I’ve really gotten to have some enlightening discussions with my child development professor during his office hours, which has made the subject much more personable for me. See your professors as people rather than just instructors, and go to their office hours!

8. Get to know new people. This is one of the few times in your life that you’ll be entering any school year with at least 1,000 other people who are all in the same boat as you, without cliques and any stereotypical social constructs. Simply talking to your peers, whether it’s in classes or in your residence hall, really establishes the sense of community here at CNU. Just by engaging in conversations with other students, I’ve gotten to know so many people who I never would have talked to in high school and see them on a more adult level, so I encourage everyone to do that.

9. Enjoy dorm life. Get to know the people on your hall. Go to hall meetings and events. Befriend your roommate; my current one and I are practically best friends! And always ask your RA for advice or help with anything they’re able to, since they’re always willing to be a resource if you need one and are incredibly knowledgeable about dorm life and college life in general.

10. Have a schedule for all of your classes. Being organized in the adult world is no joke, so having an agenda or academic timeline to write all of your activities and assignments in can help you stay on top of your college life. It also helps with being balanced and establishing timely schedules for exam studying!


A Guide to Getting Through Class Registration

Something you may not be anticipating when you’re preparing for your time at college is registering for classes. In high school, I know that I personally lost my class registration sheet almost every year. At least two of the years I signed up for classes, I turned in my registration sheet on the last day available. I was never worried about classes filling up or being unable to complete pre-requisites for my future classes. Unfortunately, college is a whole different ballpark.

The first aspect of signing up for classes that completely blew me away was how many choices I had. There were hundreds of options! Every class title was more intriguing than the last, and soon I had a document full of classes I wanted to take. I was busy despairing over how on earth I would decide which classes to attend, when I realized the next horror of class registration: actually getting the classes you need.

Thankfully, your university cares about you graduating, and offers a class guide, as well as comprehensive faculty advising. You can search by the area of study you plan on pursuing, and see what classes are required for the major, minor, or concentration you’re attempting to receive. This class guide will absolutely save your life, so I’d suggest getting at least one copy of it and familiarizing yourself with its contents.

The best way to discover what classes you need to take is by using this guide to find which classes you are required to take for your major(s) and minor(s). There are some classes that you must take, while some requirements can be fulfilled by one of a couple different options. Behind the main section explaining what classes you must take for your major or minor is an extensive list of each of the classes offered, their description and the pre-requisites needed in order to be enrolled in the class.

I would recommend crossing out the classes you’ve completed in your major(s) and minor(s), and attempting to write out a list of all the classes you still need in order to graduate. Be aware that doing so will seem overwhelming, but don’t panic! Once you’ve written out this list of what you still need, put an ‘x’ by all of the classes that you can’t take, either because they’re full already, they’re not being offered, or you don’t have the appropriate pre-requisites (ex., proper class standing or classes required before taking said class).

You’re going to be left with a much shorter list that will incite less panic. However, it will likely still include more classes than you can possibly take in one semester. The best way to choose whether or not you should take a class in your upcoming semester is to determine which classes you need to take in order to move on to further classes in the major. Some classes are pre-requisites for over two-thirds of the other classes needed to complete a major. Identify these classes and get them out of the way as soon as possible. Doing these things should help you to decide which classes to be open to take in your upcoming semester.

The other struggle that comes along with registration is actually getting the classes that you want in a schedule that fits your life. You’re going to have a meeting with your core adviser, and by all means you should take full advantage of it.

Don’t set your heart on just four or five classes with specific times that you want. Instead, have multiple schedules picked out. Have an ideal schedule with the classes you’d like most with the times you’d like most. Then, have alternates (at least two alternates) for each of the classes you’ve picked. Classes are filled quickly, and if you’re attempting to get into a higher level class as a first or second year, it’s likely that you’ll have a tough time getting them onto your schedule.

Being prepared for anything is the best way you can help yourself during this difficult process. It’s a hard and confusing time of the semester, but knowing the resources available to you and familiarizing yourself with them will get you ahead of the game!


How to Eat Healthier at CNU

Upon entering Commons or Regattas, students are greeted with the sights of entrees, pasta, pizza and a display of desserts, along with tantalizing smells of various high-calorie foods. The options for where to eat meals and pick up snacks seem endless and overwhelmingly delicious (which they are)! However, the dreaded “freshman 15” (and any weight gain-related stress for any sophomore, junior or senior) hits a lot of freshmen without their knowledge (myself included) and causes immediate worry in terms of how to lose the weight. A little helpful information, I’ve learned this year, can go a long way. With that in mind, here are some tips for on-and off-campus dining that can hopefully help any college student struggling to eat healthier (and not reach for that extra piece of peanut butter pie).

1. Master dining at the dining halls – The Healthy Havens at Regatta’s and Commons have saved me from making so many unhealthy eating choices this year! That isn’t to say that all food at the dining halls is bad for you; it totally isn’t. Just keep in mind to eat foods served more regularly, like pasta, fries and pizza, in moderation. I alternate my lunches and dinners at Regatta’s with turkey burgers or a salad with a soup or panini. Choosing turkey burgers as opposed to regular burgers has been a majorly beneficial decision; they take slightly longer to cook than regular hamburgers, but are a much leaner protein that’s equally delicious. At Commons, I alternate every lunch or dinner with a salad and soup or sandwich, and always eat wraps (with no cheese) at both dining halls whenever they’re being served. This could be a bit complicated and easily tiring for most, but just keep in mind what you’re eating and if there are any adjustments or routines you need to make to improve your eating habits.

2. Get up in the gym and work on your fitness! – The Freeman Center has fitness classes, personal trainers, and even (sometimes) free classes! Almost any type of class from Zumba to yoga is offered here. If you don’t want to work with an entire group and focus on more routine workouts to adjust your physique and stay healthy, set up regular sessions with one of the Center’s various personal trainers!

3. Avoid unhealthy eating habits. First, slowly decrease the amount of junk food that you consume each week (with a normal serving size). Gradually take a day off of eating junk food every week until you’re only eating it two to three times a week. If you seriously can’t live without it, use unhealthier foods as an incentive for something or only limit yourself to eating them on certain days. For example, I’ve used Greek yogurt bars or chips and guacamole as a “reward” for finishing assignments if I’ve been craving them but don’t want to go overboard. More recently, I restricted myself to only eating unhealthily on the weekends this semester, which has been massively beneficial. With my schedule, I usually only have time to go to the gym on weekday mornings or (occasionally) weekend nights; being able to have a junk food excursion on the weekends and go back into a regular routine of exercise and healthier eating for the majority of the week causes me to have more scheduled periods for healthy and unhealthy eating. It also helps me to lose enough weight during weekdays that I know I can’t gain back over one weekend.

4. Drink two cups of water before every meal. You have to gain water to lose water weight! I read an online article about this earlier this winter, and figured I’d at least attempt it to clear up my skin and shed a couple of pounds. However, within a week and a half after rigorously sticking to this routine, I’d lost seven pounds! It can feel tedious at times, but seeing that number on the scale change so much from where it was a week before is amazing; and the fact that it establishes a regular healthy habit doesn’t hurt, either.

5. Replace your snacks with healthy and tasty alternatives. Try switching from eating regular ice cream to low-fat ice cream, fat-free ice cream, or Greek yogurt bars, which are cheaper and healthier than expensive pints you could spend $6 on (which I’ve been prone to do; I’m not perfect). Replace sodas with sparkling waters, fruit-flavored waters, or sports drinks; the first two are sold for extremely cheap prices, and sports drinks (while they might be slightly unhealthy) replenish your body’s electrolytes and are extremely hydrating. You can also try replacing:

-chips and dip with whole-grain tortilla chips and guacamole or salsa

-cookies with cookie thins or fruits like apples, oranges and bananas

-flavored crackers with whole-wheat crackers or un-microwaveable popcorn

-any type of candy with granola bars, dried fruit or snack mixes

8. Eat produce. This is something your parents have probably told you from the day you were born, but try to eat at least one serving of fruits or vegetables at each meal (and no, some lettuce and tomato on top of your cheeseburger don’t count). Fruit is always available at Regattas and Commons, as well as cooked vegetables at lunch and dinner. Each dining hall has a salad bar with plenty of veggie add-ins like cucumbers and peppers, and omelet bars offer add-ins like green peppers, tomatoes and onions (which can be a healthy alternative to omelets that only have bacon and cheese in them).

The Little Things of CNU

With admitted freshmen days underway, the semester is ending far faster than I could ever imagine. Incoming freshmen receive a multitude of opportunities prior to move-in day to experience Christopher Newport University as their own school. I even had the opportunity to show a friend who was visiting for Admitted Freshmen Day around and got to brag about Christopher Newport (which truly ended with me talking for two hours about being a student here, which is very easy to do). That being said, I wanted to share a list for incoming freshmen of some of the little things that make Christopher Newport special.

When the weather is favorable:

  • The lawn outside of the York has the best trees for enoing and slack lining.
  • The tables in the plaza are the ideal nice weather seating and are the perfect place to see tons of people on campus in one afternoon.
  • Like many days in college, seeing a puppy can be the best part. Fear not, the Great Lawn on a sunny day often provides an ample number of friendly, loving dogs. The best part is most owners will let you pet/hold their dog—a very good day!

Where to go if the Trible Library is too crowded:

  • Right next to the library is the Pope Chapel, this is a great place for good work to get done because there is a somber tone of quiet consistently.
  • In each of the freshman residence halls, there are study spaces on each hallway that are typically reserved for students looking for a quiet space to work.
  • The David Student Union is a great place to get work done if you are able to work in an environment with background noise—the second level has comfortable couches and tables for student and staff use.
  • Check the blue couch room in Einstein’s, it’s comfortable and a big enough space for friends to join!

When you are over the dining hall:

  • Christopher Newport offers a Discovery Chick-fil-A Express on campus—need I say more?
  • During the lunch hours, Christopher Newport also offers Discovery Bistro, which has gourmet-esque sandwiches; Discovery Grille, which offers burgers, grilled cheese, hot dogs etc.; and a Discovery Pizzeria with different kinds of pizza and delicious desserts.
  • Einsteins not only offers Starbucks coffee but also offers bagel sandwiches, sushi, flatbreads and as always, milkshakes!

These are but a few of the little things that I learned in my first semester as a freshman and hope you find them as helpful as I did!