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Monday, May 2, 2016

College advice from a college student

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lesha Foster Photo by Jody Shackelford
Lesha Foster, 2007 graduate of Salem High School, has completed her first year of college at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and was recently recognized as a member of Sigma Alpha Lambda, which is a national leadership and honors organization at ASU.

Foster said she was surprised when she received the honor.

"I have worked really hard in my honors classes but I didn't expect this," Foster said.

"It is an honor to be recognized," she said.

Sigma Alpha Lambda is dedicated to promoting and rewarding academic achievement and providing members with opportunities for community service, personal development and lifelong professional fulfillment, SAL said.

Service is the foundation of SAL's leadership development model as well as the leadership of the organization itself. Through service, individuals look outside themselves and lives are changed, not only for the one being served but even more so for the one serving. As a result of this process, the individual learns more about who they really are and what they value, SAL said.

Now a veteran college student she also has a few words of advice.

Foster said keeping focused as a freshman can be dubious and offered advice to those who will be attending college for the first time in the fall.

"Get involved. Look for clubs and activities to join; you will make a lot of friends quick like that. I got involved with Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM)," she said.

Foster said that being in a new environment with a lot of different people was unusual at first and she found it important to make friends.

"Say you go to the lunchroom and you do not have anyone to sit by, just go up and start talking to someone. There is going to be a lot of people in there that want someone to come up to them because they are just like you, nervous or shy," she said.

For those who are not extremely outgoing, conversations with strangers can be rare but Foster said, college is a good time to break out of a shell.

"You don't have to just walk up and be like, 'Oh, hey! This is my name,' and everything. Just say, 'How are your classes?' or talk to them about college," Foster said.

Aside from the new social environment many freshmen will face for the first time, living on their own in the college dorms will also be uncharted waters for many.

"Don't bring a lot of stuff to your dorm starting out," she said.

"I did that and I had about 10 boxes packed up in my closet. It was insane," she said.

Aside from the peril of stray beerpong balls and Guitar Hero cables, dorm life for many can also have its dangers -- the roommate. While many students may find new lifelong friends in these new living partners, Foster says sometimes joy may be the last feeling a roommate will conjure.

"Before you move in, find out who your roommate will be and talk to them. I didn't do that and I had a lot of bad experiences with my roommate," she said.

Foster said in the case a new student and their assigned roommate are not compatible there is a process of being reassigned.

"You can't switch the very first week but after the first week of school you can talk to the advisors and you can switch roommates if your roommate agrees, too. But, after two weeks of school you will have to go through a huge long lengthy process to get a new roommate," she said.

With a suitable roommate, a few new friends from the lunchroom and a closet not over flowing with boxes, one might want to think about classes, which for a freshman often times can be in the morning.

"Early classes were really hard for me because I am not very good at getting up early. It seems like when I would have early classes I would get in late a lot of times," she said.

After a few late appearances, Foster said she had to develop a plan to make sure she was up and at them.

"You have to get an alarm clock. The key is not to set it by your bed where you can just reach over and press snooze. You press snooze and you think you will wake up in a couple minutes but it's two hours later and you missed class," she said.

"Another thing I learned in the first semester was to keep your classes together, don't have them hours apart. Then you will go back to your room and fall asleep or you might go shopping or something. That just gives you more of a tendency to miss class," she said.

"The ASU campus had a lot of great food but after a while you will get kind of sick of it but don't go to a restaurant every single night. I tried that the first semester and you can got broke pretty fast. But it was a lot of fun," she said.

Essential to a college student's pantry of dorm food, according to Foster is a combination of chocolate, saltine crackers and meat. "I had potted meat but not a lot of people like that," she said. "But it's really good."

"Keep change in your room too because downstairs they have the vending machines. They are lifesavers when you get hungry in the middle of the night and you have no food in your room," she said.

Foster said that there are a lot of opportunities for distraction with the high level of student activities and social functions and she warns that studying is very important to college success.

"I suggest start studying as soon as you get the material. You have got to use note cards. Write questions and then quiz yourself about them. My note cards became a necessity I had to have. I still have like 300 note cards. I will definitely use them next year too," she said.

Although Foster recommends getting involved, she also warns to be selective when choosing the involvement.

"Watch out for the whole party scene. Frat houses are fun to go to but go with people you know. Most of them are safe but there are some where anything could happen," she said.

"I have been there when they have had fights and all kinds of crazy things," she said.

"Don't stay too long. You can stay and talk to everyone but when it starts getting to where everyone is totally trashed, leave and go home," she said.

Although most dangers are avoided using common sense and discretion, Foster said procrastination is a silent killer.

"If you are taking algebra classes at ASU they are online. If you wait till 11 p.m. to do the exams you will run out of time before the exam closes at midnight. You work everything out on paper and you put the answers into the computer. If you get it wrong you get two more strikes, then you have to start all over," she said.

With all of her veteran advice Foster reiterated the importance of getting involved with student activities and clubs.

"I got involved with BCM and I have met so many people through that club who are some of my best friends now. I talk to them almost everyday," she said.

"I can't wait to get back to school and spend time with them again."

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