Advice for College Freshmen from the Experts at UMO

Advice for College Freshmen from the Experts at UMO

The most successful students are those who make a solid connection at their College during their first year.  We asked several key faculty and staff members at the University of Mount Olive to offer their advice and insight to incoming freshmen.  Their responses are below.

From David Dommer, Ph.D.
UMO Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of the School of Graduate Studies

Going off to College is certainly an exciting and formative time.  While many students struggle initially with the transition from high school to college there are a number of things they can do that will greatly improve their chances at success.

The single most critical factor in predicting college success is simple; attending classes.  Students who attend a greater number of class periods are exposed to more material and are more successful than students who skip class. New students often struggle with planning and prioritizing coursework above social activities.  Making sure to schedule time for both in class activities and work outside of the classroom is critical.  Typically college courses require three times as much reading and writing outside of seated class time per week meaning that students need to block out time every day to build solid habits and get off on the right track.

It also holds true that students who make deep and lasting connections have a much stronger change of success.  What this means to new freshmen is to make friends and reach out to your assets.  Within the first two weeks on campus, new students should make one on one appointments to introduce themselves to all of their instructors, and critically, their advisor.  Advisors are there to help students navigate a myriad of problems, and taking advantage of their advice and counsel is always an excellent idea.  The best advice is to ask for help before a small issue in a course becomes a large issue and to communicate constantly.

David Shields, M.S.
UMO Director of the Academic Resource Center

Communication is key to academic success. Your instructors and advisors cannot help you if they don’t know you are in need. Establish relationships with the people who can help you to succeed and take advantage of available resources.

College is not like high school, and you will need to organize your time in an efficient manner. Keep track of your assignments in a planner or on the calendar in your phone, and set reminders so that you don’t forget your due dates. Managing your time using a weekly schedule will help you avoid late nights and give you time to relax. You don’t want to burnout half-way through the semester, so take time to decompress and reduce your anxiety levels.

Break up your study sessions into shorter manageable “chunks.” Studying for four hours straight is not the most effective way to retain information. Study material over the course of several days or weeks and it will be easier to commit to memory. Take regular breaks and/or work on other assignments so that you can maintain your focus.

Use your institution’s Academic Resource Center (ARC) or Student Success Center (SSC). Colleges and Universities employ experts to help you identify which study techniques will work for you. These centers often offer a variety of programs to help you with course content. Find out what is available and how you can sign up before you need help. Be proactive, use the available resources, and you will make the most of your educational journey!

From Burt Lewis, Ph.D.
UMO Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

A college education is a means to a beginning. This is something that I learned from one of our students.  As a student, enjoy the journey and the learning experience of your time in school.  Go to class, talk with your professors, your fellow students, enroll in an internship, but most of all develop a passion for your work and for learning as this will serve you well in the future.

From K. David Hines, D. Min.
Vice President for Academic Affairs

Freshmen will be starting an incredible journey. I’m not sure they can wrap their minds around all the opportunities they will face and all the change they will experience over the next four years. With all the new freedom that they will have comes great responsibility. Here’s my best guidance…

  • They will be shocked by how fast time flies by in college compared the high school. Time management is absolutely essential!
  • Go to class.
  • There are three good “F’s” that will help students be successful: Faith, Family, and Friends. College is too hard to try by oneself.

From Daniel C. Vollert, M.S.
UMO Director Pope Wellness Center

As college students flock to campuses across the nation, most are blissfully unaware that in a few short months the unwanted “freshman 15” may appear. For those who are unfamiliar with the term “freshman 15,” it refers to the average amount of 15 pounds which are gained during a typical student’s first year at college. Instead of dreading the “freshman 15,” create beneficial habits during your college years in order to set yourself up for success not only in beating weight gain while in college, but also in establishing habits you need to stay healthy afterwards.

Did you know that your tuition money goes towards more than just paying for the college courses you are taking? At UMO, you are also paying for a gym membership at Pope Wellness Center, so get your money’s worth! Pope Wellness Center offers a variety of group fitness classes throughout each week. All fitness classes are free to attend and are held at the wellness center. The wellness center offers state of the art fitness equipment, including cardio equipment, plate-loaded and pin-loaded equipment, free weights, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, an outdoor volleyball court, and a disc golf course. There are also fun activities to meet new friends and make lasting memories, including intramural sports, and campus rec trips and events.

Evidence shows that exercising for just 30 minutes a few times a week can help relieve the stress of academics, improve sleep quality and your mood, and boost your brainpower. Forming an exercise routine can even spark a healthy addiction to working out and ensure that you avoid the dreaded “freshman 15”.

From Nicole Garrett
UMO Director of Campus Life

What should incoming students bring to campus?

At the University of Mount Olive, each residence hall room comes furnished with a twin-XL bed frame and mattress, wardrobe, dresser, and chair.  Students can arrange their space to make it all their own! Residential areas also have study spaces, lounges, laundry facilities, and covered bike racks as added amenities. We encourage students to communicate with their new roommate regarding what items they each plan to bring to avoid duplication of some items like small appliances. The following may be helpful in preparing for your move to Mount Olive:

  • Twin-xl bedding and mattress pad
  • Towels, washcloths, shower caddy, shower shoes
  • Laundry basket and laundry supplies
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Clothes hangers
  • Storage organizers
  • Surge protector and extension cords
  • Mini-fridge (no larger than 3.2 cubic foot)
  • Microwave
  • Television
  • DVD player
  • Desk lamp/Floor lamp
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • School supplies
  • First Aid supplies
  • Pictures and other decorative items


How can students get involved?

The first couple of months are crucial in getting acclimated to campus. I advise students to make sure they get outside of their residence hall and classroom and see what the university has to offer. We currently have 30 active clubs and organizations ranging from areas related to academic majors such as chemistry, science, and business clubs to general interests such as music, ballroom dancing, and drama clubs just to name a few. If students want to start a new club, they just need a few friends with the same interest in getting a club started and the Student Affairs Office can help with that process.


What should incoming students expect that first week?

Welcome Week is our orientation program to help new incoming students transition to college and specifically our UMO community. There will be a number of sessions to help inform students about what to expect in college, how UMO operates, and a number of campus events in the evenings to get students interacting with one another.