Building Connections on Campus: 8 Essential Contacts for First-Year Students


Stepping onto a college campus for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. However, one effective way to navigate the challenges of the college transition is by establishing a supportive community.

According to Luis Inoa, associate dean of student living and wellness at Vassar College, forging relationships with peers, faculty, and staff members is crucial for overcoming personal, social, and academic obstacles. By engaging with the campus community, students not only cultivate a sense of belonging but also lay the groundwork for academic success and personal growth. Here are eight key groups of people that first-year students should connect with on campus to facilitate their adjustment to college life.

Building Connections on Campus: 8 Essential Contacts for First-Year Students

(Photo : UNSPLASH / Brooke Cagle)

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1. Accessibility Services Staff

Before classes begin, students requiring housing or academic accommodations should visit the accessibility services office on campus. Amy Armenia, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Rollins College, emphasizes the importance of early contact with this office, especially for students who have previously received accommodations. Establishing these connections ensures that students receive the necessary support to thrive academically.

2. Academic Advisers

Academic advisers play a vital role in guiding students through their program of study and graduation requirements. Carolyn Moehling, senior vice provost at Rutgers University—New Brunswick, encourages students to schedule early meetings with their academic advisers to discuss their academic goals and develop a plan for achieving them.

3. Peers

Forming relationships with fellow students during orientation, in the dorms, or in the classroom is essential for creating a sense of community. Getting involved in campus organizations and clubs provides opportunities to connect with peers who share similar interests and hobbies, fostering lasting friendships and support networks.

4. Professors

Attending office hours and engaging with professors outside of class allows students to seek academic guidance and develop relationships with their instructors. Moehling recommends using office hours to learn more about professors' areas of expertise and potential career paths within their field. Establishing a positive relationship with professors can prove advantageous, as they may later provide valuable professional references or endorse students for research opportunities.

5. Resident Assistants and Peer Leaders

For students living in dorms, resident assistants serve as valuable resources for resolving conflicts, planning events, and addressing any concerns. Peer mentorship programs provide additional support and guidance, helping first-year students navigate the challenges of college life.

6. Campus Staff Members

Building connections with campus staff members, including service staff and administrative personnel, contributes to students' sense of belonging and well-being. Recognizing familiar faces and establishing rapport with staff members enhances students' overall campus experience.

7. Career Services Staff

Visiting the career services office early in their college career allows students to access resources and guidance for future career planning. From resume building to networking opportunities, career services staff provide valuable assistance in preparing students for internships and post-graduation employment.

8. Academic Support Staff

As students adjust to the academic rigors of college, seeking support from academic coaches, tutors, and writing centers can help them succeed in their coursework. Moehling emphasizes the importance of utilizing these resources early in the semester to develop effective study habits and strategies for academic success.

By establishing connections with these key groups of people on campus, first-year students can navigate the challenges of college life with confidence and support. Cultivating these relationships not only enhances the college experience but also contributes to students' long-term success and well-being.

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