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Interim President Jeff Ettinger inside Morrill Hall on Sept. 20, 2023. Ettinger gets deep with the Daily: “It’s bittersweet.”
Ettinger reflects on his presidency
Published April 22, 2024

Episode 101: How students navigate a new semester

With the fall semester finally in full swing, reporter Stella Mehlhoff met with undergraduate students to ask the simple question: “How are you feeling about this semester?'”

STELLA MEHLHOFF: Hello, all. My name is Stella Mehlhoff, and you’re listening to “In the Know,” a podcast by the Minnesota Daily. Our aim is to explore a new aspect of the University of Minnesota’s students and communities with each episode. This week, we’re keeping it simple: discovering what it’s like to be a Fall 2022 University of Minnesota student.

According to the University of Minnesota, 50,000 plus students are preparing for the 2022 fall semester. The weather is getting chillier, the traffic is escalating. The outside of Anderson Hall is crowded with students studying, bulletin boards are full of posters, a crowd of students attends a study abroad fair, and the bridge is packed with bikes, scooters, and walkers. Keaton Crawley, a transfer student at the U of M, describes his new campus experience:

KEATON CRAWLEY: I’m actually a transfer student, so it’s my first semester here, so I’m really excited to be here. So it’s a little overwhelming, a lot going on, but I’m figuring it all out pretty well so far.

MEHLHOFF: So what first impressions do you have of the U?

CRAWLEY: Um, well, there’s definitely a lot more people than my other university. So it’s just very diverse, a lot of people. It’s a really big campus. So everyone’s been really nice to me so far. So, yeah, it seems like a really nice place.

MEHLHOFF: Incoming first-year, Sophie Houdek, describes the new experience of attending a school with so many people on campus. Her first shock came from meeting the student body.

SOPHIE HOUDEK: New people, and how I should take advantage of that. I’m constantly being told to reach out to people, joining groups. Like do it now the sooner the better and like you’ll meet new people and like yes, it’s scary but like your future self will thank you.

MEHLHOFF: It’s more than making friends in the midst of shock and awe. Some students, having experienced nearly five semesters guided by COVID-19 safety protocols, are facing a new challenge after returning to a nearly entirely in-person, mostly mask-free setting.

ROSALYN JOHNSON: “Like my freshman year of college, I was able to stay home in Madison, just because the pandemic and I took all my classes online and it was a hard year but not because of my workload. Like I was able to do everything really easily.I was like working while I was in school too. So I was nannying two kids while I was taking classes online, so like, the workload was super easy and light.”

MEHLHOFF: Rosalyn Johnson, a political science and history double major, describes the renewed intensity of on-campus learning in contrast to her more low-key online experience.

JOHNSON: I have four classes: two history classes, a political science class, and a Spanish class. I’m also an officer on the UMN women’s rugby team. So like, doing a lot, but most days I’m able to get things done before like 11 and get to bed. I also just had ACL surgery, so I’m doing PT for that. So it’s like it’s it’s all like kind of at once, like one thing you know.

MEHLHOFF: The question remains whether or not she can handle the workload.

JOHNSON: I certainly hope so. I guess, you know, like, check in in like three months and we’ll see how it went. But I hope so.

MEHLHOFF: Some students balance themselves with an equal amount of anxiety and optimism. As Johnson says, it can be challenging managing many different obligations at once.

Rooselan Vang, a sophomore at the U of M, explains how handling a full course load can feel.

ROOSELAN VANG: Yeah, it’s quite stressful when like, every day you get something new so every day, each of the classes have different readings. So you have to complete like over 20 readings per day. So I have a lot of readings to do every single day.

MEHLHOFF: For Vang, adjusting to her second year has proven itself a challenge.

VANG: It’s quite intense for like my second year to freshman year. It was kind not that busy since, I have like a day off, but this year, I have class every single day. So it’s quite a lot.

MEHLHOFF: When asked about how they manage their stress, and what they would suggest for younger students struggling to do the same, many upper class students highlight the University’s resources and communities as a place to seek support.

Crawley recommends that newer students utilize every resource the University has to offer.

CRAWLEY: Definitely use all of the services that the university has provided—like I’m a transfer student, I just get all these emails about ‘if you need help go here. If you need help go here.’Definitely make some friends. I have a lot of friends that are here and that’s another reason why I transferred so just touch in with them whenever you need help, and there’s always people that can help you.

MEHLHOFF: Liana Clemens, a psychology student at the U, suggests that students:

LIANA CLEMENS: Go find people that like the same things. It’s like, say majors, or like if you’re multicultural, multicultural rooms. Those are really fun. Just get involved on campus.

MEHLHOFF: David Li is a fourth-year computer science student and he advises students not to hesitate to speak up when they need help.

DAVID LI: I would say just keep exploring and there are a lot of resources at the U that you can use actually, so don’t hesitate to ask for resources if you get stuck into a question or problems,

LI: I recommend, use the career services at the U and the One Stop Services, they’re pretty good and the college advisor, your major advisor,

MEHLHOFF: Oliva Thew, another senior studying Mechanical Engineering, echoes similar advice.

OLIVIA THEW: Use all the resources that they give you, it’s definitely overwhelming with all the different links and stuff they send you but they are super helpful.

MEHLHOFF: Houdek offers her own approach, emphasizing the importance of taking care of oneself when adjusting to a new place or routine:

HOUDEK: Yeah, just the one day at a time thing. Well like college can be very lonely. I am realizing that as well. you will probably spend more time alone, a little bit more than you’re used to. And, and so in those times alone, you should like take advantage and like putting yourself first and like doing things for yourself, whatever little things or big things, whatever that may be. If that makes sense.

MEHLHOFF: Thank you for listening. We’re glad you’re tuning in this fall. Don’t forget to like and rate In the Know wherever you get your podcasts. My name is Stella Mehlhoff, and this is In the Know.

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