Advice for the incoming midyear class
Do's and Don'ts for the newest Brandeisians
The nearly 100 newest Brandeisians will officially begin their university careers when they arrive on campus Jan. 13. For expert advice on navigating their journeys as transfer and midyear students they’ll be able to turn to their Orientation Leaders and to Sydney Derfel Sahasrabudhe ’17.
Sahasrabudhe—a midyear herself who arrived on campus in January 2014—has participated in six orientations, including her own. She has been busy planning activities and events for the incoming midyear and transfer class as an Orientation Core Committee member, and relishes connecting with new students.
“I enjoyed being a midyear; having that status was really important to me – it was something I could claim as soon as I got to campus,” Sahasrabudhe said.
Sahasrabudhe helped BrandeisNOW offer some do’s and don’ts for midyears arriving at Brandeis.
DO: Dive into orientation
Midyear orientation covers much of the same ground as fall orientation, but it’s also designed to give midyears who may still feel ambivalent about starting their collegiate careers a semester later than they anticipated a chance to shift their perspective.
“I’m a strong believer in going to the orientation programs—even at the most basic level, going to the programs gives you a routine in your first days, gives you a chance to meet more people, and it gives you a chance to show up to something,” Sahasrabudhe says.
DON’T: Hesitate to seek academic support
Some midyears take some courses at colleges or universities near their homes in the fall semester before they arrive at Brandeis, but others—Sahasrabudhe included—do not, and that’s OK.
Students who have a goal of graduating in three and a-half years, as Sahasrabudhe is doing, need to pay close attention to course scheduling and planning.
For those who took a break from academics in the fall semester, the re-entry can be a bit more difficult. So Sahasrabudhe recommends asking for help.
“Get to know your professors — don’t be ashamed to let your professor know you’re having trouble with the workload because for many midyears, they haven’t been in school for more than half a year,” she says. “Take advantage of all the tutoring Brandeis has to offer. I don’t think any student should be shy about accessing academic help, but midyears need to be especially proactive.”
DON’T: Force yourself into a rigid timetable
Although Sahasrabudhe plans to graduate in May, she didn’t start with the expectation that she would complete her degree – with two majors and one minor – in three and a-half years.
“Your college education is on your own schedule, and that’s something that being a midyear taught me incredibly well,” she says. “You need to be very fluid with your hopes and dreams and your time schedule.”
DO: Enjoy the nurturing environment of the Village
Sahasrabudhe says that being part of a group of only about 100 students, all living in the same two residence halls, offers significant social advantages.
“Being a midyear is actually an identity and because you all live together, you’re always hanging out together, always cooking together, always coming back from events together,” she says. “There are people from my midyear class who I wasn’t close with but who I still have a connection with – 100 is an incredibly tangible number compared to 850 students in the fall – it’s a much easier number of people to get to know, and you do learn each other’s names incredibly fast.”
DON’T: Forget that other first-years’ social networks aren’t set in stone yet, either.
On the other hand, Sahasrabudhe points out that while the midyear group offers a supportive and embracing environment, friend groups often shift for midyears and other first-year students.
“For students entering in the fall or in January, out of sheer necessity people tend to make friends very quickly, and some of those friendships don’t last,” Sahasrabudhe says. “I spend a lot of time reminding midyears to be ambitious and be sociable and be outgoing, and also not to be afraid to leave the Village. I have a lot of friends who started in the fall and I have a lot of friends who were part of my midyear group.”
Getting involved in Brandeis’ numerous clubs is a great way to find students of all class years who share interests, she adds.
DO: Bundle up!
Possibly the most obvious difference between fall and midyear orientation: shorts vs. scarves. For midyears and transfers coming from warm and temperate climates, the first chilly months on campus can be a bit of a shock.“We have a lot of conversations when midyears first get here about Boston winters,” Sahasrabudhe says. “It can be pretty frigid the day they move in. With our international students, we often take them shopping to make sure they get everything they need.”