Learning the Ropes: Advice from Loy Norrix Grads

Leah Dunham

No matter what you’re doing after high school, you’ll encounter many new challenges and obstacles that you haven’t been presented with before. As the class of 2018 sets off on their journey, previous Loy Norrix students and graduates have shared some of their best advice for navigating college and the rest of life after high school. Meet four individuals and the paths they took after high school:
carsten mugCarsten Strand graduated in the class of 2016. He attends Wayne State University studying Broadcast Journalism and aspires to be a baseball announcer. 
jill ko
Jillian Ko is from the class of 2014. She recently graduated from the University of Michigan. She studied English Language and Literature, with the goal of becoming a publisher.
ben mil mugBenjamin Miller graduated with the class of 2015. He took a year off to hike the Appalachian Trail in 2015. He now attends Kalamazoo Valley Community College studying biology with a concentration in ecology and plans to transfer to Northern Michigan University in the fall of 2019.
lars mugLars Johnson also graduated with the class of 2015. He attends the University of Michigan, where he studies English and biology and hopes to either be a professor or part of a publishing house.
What are your study habits? When do you study best, where and using what methods?
Carsten:  I really just have to lock myself in for a few hours and really focus on getting what I need to get done. I like to study in the middle of the day after my classes get out, that way I am still in that learning mindset and I can focus.
Lars: As much as I like studying with friends, they usually distract me, which is why I prefer studying alone or in a silent space. My tactics include re-watching recorded lectures, making flashcards and rewriting notes. Sometimes, I find reading the textbook useful, but it depends on the course. Typically, practice problems and previous exams make for excellent study materials. For papers, I always seek out advice from professors, as they know exactly what they want and will usually tell you, if you ask.
Did you use a meal plan and stay in the dorms the first year(s) and how did you make it work best for you? What were the most essential items you have brought with you?
Jillian: The most essential items I brought were probably my clip-on lamp (it clips onto the bed and you can angle it for reading without disturbing your roommates) and light-up makeup mirror that I still use today.
Ben: I started with community college to avoid things like dorms, meal plans, etc (not to mention how much less expensive it is). Many universities require you to live in a dorm your first year or so of school, but if you’re above a certain age, you can avoid this. I live in the Vine neighborhood with my partner and her cat, and we’re very happy there.
Do you prefer a house or apartment? Why or why not?
Jillian: I haven’t lived in an apartment, but I love living in my house currently. I’ve lived with the same seven other girls my junior and senior year, so if you ever want to go and do anything, chances are someone will join you.
Carsten: I would probably prefer a house, but seeing as houses and apartments are more expensive than living in a dorm in Detroit, I will continue to live in the dorm that I live in now next year.
 How did you manage your sleep schedule?
Ben: I have balanced my work and school schedule, so that there are days that I have to be to work at 9 a.m. but every other day, the first place I have to be is a 12:30 class. This gives me small breaks from waking up early without deviating too far from my sleep schedule. Don’t underestimate this. Your body can’t handle massive, regular changes in waking up and going to bed.
Jillian: You sort of have to understand that your sleep schedule is going to be pretty erratic when you’re first adjusting. You’ve been waking up for class at 7:30 for so long, you sort of grow accustomed to either napping an insane amount in college, or pulling all-nighters.
How did you find your crowd and get involved?
Jillian:  I have met mainly all my friends from either living in the same hall or the same house. Class is sometimes a good way to meet friends as well, but sharing a living space makes it really easy to bond.
Carsten: This year, I lived in a dorm that was only for people attending the College for Performing and Communication Arts, so that really introduced me to a tight community of people who all have the same interests as me
How did you cope with being away from home for the first time?
Lars: Finding new friends helped, but it was just as important to keep in touch with people from back home. It also was nice that I had a family member here, my sister.
Ben: My “first time away from home” was when I  hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2015. It got lonely sometimes, but that was because I was living (mostly) alone in the woods for six months. Don’t worry about that at college. You’ll find friends.
Do you have a car, and if so when did you start using it in college?
Carsten: I had a car for my senior year of high school, but I did not take it with me to college. Of course, there have been times where I wish I had a car, but I take advantage of a new rail system in Detroit called the QLine. I ride the QLine to work at my job in the new Little Caesars Arena, and really I have been just fine without a car.
Lars: I do not have a car. Parking is very expensive at U of M, and the parking lots for students in the dorms are not conveniently located.
Are there any extra tips or advice you think an incoming college freshman should know?
Ben: Take a year off, or even just a semester. You won’t regret it. Don’t just sit at home, though. Go traveling, meet wacky people and enjoy learning about yourself. You’ll have a way better head on your shoulders for making life decisions, such as which major to choose. If your parents say no because they’re paying for your schooling, tell them you’re saving them money on all of the classes you would have failed. I know too many people who lost The Promise or a lot of money because they didn’t know that they weren’t actually ready for school. If you do go straight to school, have enough honesty with yourself to be able to say, “I need a break.” Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
Lars: Don’t stress too much about grades, your major, or if you feel lonely at first.