Surviving the semester: Advice from your peers

As the third week of classes comes to a close, students are realizing the different challenges and opportunities that this semester will present. To assist students as they settle into a routine, we gathered words of wisdom from a range of MSU students. The common themes in our interviews? Go to class, talk to your professors, and try everything at least twice.

Cameron Carlson, a sophomore in education, described his freshman year as “completely new and scary,” but, he added, “that’s the whole point of it.”

Carlson advises new students to “become one with the library” and warns that “9 a.m. classes still suck.”

But despite feeling like school is making him “become a soulless study machine instead of [a person],” Carlson is still excited for a new year full of opportunities. “I didn’t really think that there are so many different clubs on campus, different classes, different things that the town has and all of this is stuff that I have to figure out when and how to do. It’s still daunting to think about it … it’s exhilarating.”

Carlos Sanchez, a junior at MSU, explained “the most noticeable difference between the first and second year of college is the level of engagement you feel with your classes.”

But he warns of becoming too comfortable: “After you figure out how to do your work proficiently, it can create a false sense of comfort which can put you in difficult situations that you will regret,” he said, referencing a stupid mistake that cost him his course grade. “Read the syllabus!” he advised.

Amy Kessler, now a senior, warns that “junior year is when sh*t got real.” She has learned the importance of staying organized, sleeping well, studying in the library, eating breakfast and “always, always, always attend[ing] class.”

She also shared a bit of advice for fellow in-state students, “I think that a lot of in-state students … go through times where they really regretted staying in Montana,” she admitted, “But I made the conscious decision to stop being so negative, and [now] I really love it here.”

Joe Schumacher, a senior, is also 30-year-old husband, father and veteran. “I sometimes joke about how I have been to combat, [but] making the decision to come to college was one of the scariest things I have ever done,” he said. “I was worried that my family life would suffer, my grades would suffer or that I wouldn’t have time to do the things that I liked anymore.”

“I have learned about my capabilities, learned my limitations; I have learned to say no,” he explained. “But I also try to push my limits, to never settle for less than my best effort.”

Theresa Lindenau is a graduate student studying architecture. “No one is holding your hand anymore,” she warned. “The expectations are so high. The pressure to excel is real.”

Lindenau’s solution? “Grad school … is that time in your life where you should start making good decisions. Get up early, visit the gym, eat healthy and stop drinking so much.”

“The great thing about grad school is that you get to shape and develop your passions,” she said. “And that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”