Freshmen students should set goals, limits

Published 1:02 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2023

By Steve Stricker

It was a rainy 1988 day in Oxford as my three young sons helped me unload my earthly possessions from a U-Haul and start my Ole Miss career. At one point, exhausted from the mental and physical strain for weeks, I sat down on a box and said to Stephen, my oldest son, “I have made a big mistake.”

No dad, you prayed on this, your faith is strong, and this is exactly what God wants for you,” he said.

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How do you handle change? Even though I was a mature Army veteran of three years (including one in Vietnam), divorced, had three degrees, and had worked with college students for six years , change and transition from the familiar was never easy for me. I reflected on my freshmen beginning that first year in college.

Classes for Ole Miss Fall 2023 semester begin Monday, Aug. 21, and I can feel the heavy electricity and emotions in the air. Freshmen are my favorite students because of the huge transition of leaving home perhaps for the first time and all their familiar stuff – good and bad.

Of course there are those who find change to be exciting and can’t wait to explore stuff they’ve been told to stay away from, and those who find this transition traumatic. Change requires a degree of physical and mental adjustment and is dependent on how one chooses to react to it.

There will be adjustments but hang in there. Don’t make friends too fast, get behind in class as you will become frustrated and miserable, or worry about a major now – it will change six times. Don’t forget the morals taught by your parents because you are going to experience a huge amount of freedom, and choices (good or bad) will follow you.

Above all, go to class. Form study habits. Find a place and time to study. Study for that first test now. Read your notes and assigned chapters every day, persevere, accept who you are, get involved on campus, let your classmates help you, get to know your professors, academic advisor and career center professionals, and eat properly and get rest.

If you attended church at home, do so here. You are going to have ups and downs as always, realize your roommate might have been raised by wolves. We all have had our hearts broken – you will live, if you don’t get into a sorority or fraternity there is a reason – you will live.

Take responsibility for your behavior, seek help from the counseling center if things get tough, stay in constant touch with your family but don’t go home every weekend – Ole Miss is your family now, and never, ever, give up.

Good luck! Hotty Toddy! Take time for yourself and have fun. Attending Ole Miss is one of the best choices you have ever made and can be some of the best years of your life. God bless and Go Rebels.

Steve is an Oxford resident, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss.