Upcoming Events for Families/Supporters
- TONIGHT from 6-7 pm – Your Family’s Transition to College: Families are invited to join Brian Grant, Vice President of Enrollment and Advancement, and Coreen Bohl, Director of Counseling, for this webinar about what transitioning to life at Clarkson means for your whole family. Ask questions! Join with this link: https://clarkson.zoom.us/j/99986045055
- Monday, August 10th from 7-7:30 pm – Academic Orientations for Families: Families are invited to meet the faculty who will be teaching their students and learn about their students’ academic major in these brief presentations with time for Q&A. Find both student and family Academic Orientations listed here.
Upcoming Events for Students
- Week of August 3 – CIA Training (Attendance is Mandatory): Join the Clarkson Intercultural Ambassadors for this important training with your fellow transfer students. You will meet and learn the role and responsibility of the Diversity and Inclusion Office and the Clarkson Intercultural Ambassadors, and understand the importance of Diversity and Inclusion at Clarkson. Can’t make your training? Join another! The full list of trainings are listed here. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Monday, August 10th from 7:30-8:30 pm – BINGO: Join upperclass students for a BINGO night! We’ll be giving away 10 $25 Declining Balance prizes which you can redeem for food on campus! Zoom Link: https://clarkson.zoom.us/j/95314263746
- Tuesday, August 11th from 6-6:55 pm – Academic Orientations (Attendance is Mandatory): Meet the faculty who will be teaching your courses, learn what to expect from your major, and ask questions! Find your Academic Orientation session link here.
Order your Clarkson Spirit Pak today!
The Office of Alumni Relations is inviting students and families to purchase a Clarkson Spirit Pak, which includes a dark green drawstring sack pak and a fleece throw blanket (both with a large Clarkson University logo) for $30! Order online at connect.clarkson.edu/register/spiritpak or by mail using the attached order form. For questions, contact email@example.com.
Conflicts are Learning Opportunities
Conflict is simply another way to say “serious disagreement” and it is a part of everyone’s life — and that includes the life of a college student!. Roommate conflicts are a common, normal part of the college experience and can be a great opportunity to help you learn how to manage conflict in the “real world” once you graduate. Conflicts can help you understand how your behavior is perceived by others and how you affect people around you. So, even though a roommate conflict can make you feel like your whole world has turned upside down, try to take a step back and understand that there are lessons to be learned from these uncomfortable experiences.
Conflicts are Normal!
For most people, college is the first, and sometimes the only, time they are expected to share a small space with another person. Sometimes this person is a friend, sometimes an acquaintance, and sometimes a complete stranger with an entirely different background than them. Since this is your first journey into the world of college cohabitation, it is not surprising that there may be a few bumps along the way. Of course, if you shared a room with a sibling or family member growing up, you may be one step ahead as far as understanding what goes into living in close quarters with another person.
Starting Off Strong: Sharing Your Expectations
One great way to get off to a smooth start with your roommate is to discuss your expectations about how your shared and individual spaces will be kept. You can even write these expectations down and make sure all roommates have a copy so you can refer back to it later in the year. This may sound lame, but it really isn’t any different than what you would do if you shared an office with a coworker. Talk about how clean or messy you both prefer to keep your spaces and agree on a standard you can both live with. You may want to discuss compromises, like, “I am a neat freak, so I always make my bed and my side of the room will always be spotless. If you prefer a more casual space, I’m fine that you probably won’t ever make your bed, but would you agree to run the vacuum once every week or two and make sure never to leave dirty clothes on the floor?”
It is also important to understand each other’s expectations about using each other’s space and belongings. Is it OK to sit on your roommate’s bed? Should you leave the room if your roommate gets a call from home? How does each of you feel about sharing food, electronics, clothes and other items? Talking about these things in advance can help prevent misunderstandings. You may not have the same expectations but talking about them will help you to develop ways of respecting each other’s perspectives and creating a great working relationship. Of course, things can come up that no one thought to discuss in advance, so you can expect that this type of conversation may be something you do throughout your time living together.
Understanding Your Lifestyles
Be sure to discuss other lifestyle issues, such as what time you like to go to sleep, and wake up, noise levels, and alcohol/tobacco/other substance use. Where you may differ, discuss how you can respect these differences and make living together still work well. Many college students experiment with substances as part of their development process and to determine what role these substances will play in their lives as adults. Even if you don’t think either of you will be using alcohol, tobacco or other substances, talk about what you expect from each other should one of you choose to imbibe.
And, of course, there is COVID…
Every part of our lives has been impacted by the COVID pandemic. Roommate life is no exception. It will be important for you and your roommate to discuss this, as well. Since your roommate is someone you are going to be in close proximity to, likely without wearing masks, it will be important to discuss your expectations with each other. Each of your behaviors, as it relates to social distancing, mask wearing and other protective behaviors will directly impact others with whom they live.
Ask for Help!
Even if you’ve followed this advice, you may still find yourself with a roommate conflict. Don’t worry! There are ways to resolve the situation. You may want to start by talking with your Resident Advisor (RA) to get advice on how to communicate about the situation. If you feel you may need help discussing your concerns with your roommate, ask your RA to mediate. This means your RA will likely meet with you and your roommate, separately to understand each of your side of the story. Then, your RA will bring you and your roommate together and facilitate a dialogue that will hopefully result in both of you feeling comfortable with your living situation. If your roommate conflict requires a little extra assistance, your Residence Director (RD) or Area Coordinator (AC) may step in to help. RDs are former student RAs who have at least one year of experience in Residence Life; Area Coordinators are full-time, professional, live-in staff who already have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Exercising Your Independence
Many people vent to others about difficult situations or conflicts they are experiencing. For students this often means talking to parents, family members and/or friends when they have a roommate conflict. While it’s perfectly normal to air your frustrations, remind yourself, and your listener, that you are capable of handling this situation on your own, or with the help of your RA, RD or AC. When parents, family members or friends get involved in roommate conflicts or try to intervene on your behalf, it makes things more complicated, and it doesn’t help to resolve things more quickly. Learning to deal with conflict can be hard and uncomfortable, but it is an essential life skill. Your RA, RD, and AC are there to help you and your roommate to help you through the process of learning and / or improving these skills!
Moving Rooms as a Last Resort
Sometimes, when a conflict cannot be resolved, even after working with the Residence Life staff— as an absolute last resort — a room change may be considered. Room changes may also be considered when someone feels that their safety is threatened. It is important to keep in mind that Residence Life rarely forces anyone to move, so, sometimes, this means you may be the one who has to “be the bigger person” and agree to move.
Sometimes, Roommates are Just Roommates!
It’s important to remember that sometimes, the best roommates don’t become close friends. They can be two people that have learned to coexist peacefully. It’s wonderful to have a roommate who shares your values and interests, or who becomes your best friend, but it isn’t necessary. Every year is a new opportunity to make great friends and to grow and expand your horizons.
Mental Health in College
Starting your college career is an exciting time and one filled with many new opportunities, changes, and challenges. It is to be expected, and normal, that you will experience a wide range of emotions during this time as you adjust and transition to a whole new way of living and learning. Recently, mental health on college campuses has been given more attention. There are circumstances where this is a very urgent and serious topic, in most cases, learning to care for your mental health is a normal part of life.
There is no doubt you WILL experience stress here on campus. There is really no way around that. So, when you start to feel stressed, resist the urge to think that it is because you are doing something wrong. You could be doing everything “just right” and you may still experience an overload of stress. I mean, let’s think about it… new food, new living environment, new social scene, new academic stressors, and more… any one of those things, while positive and exciting, would likely produce a range of feelings. When you experience them all at the same time, it is to be expected that you will have moments when you feel overwhelmed.
So, what should you do?
- Expect that you will hit some bumps in the road. The timing can be different for everyone. Some people feel it right away while for others it may take longer for the stress to fully sink in. Either way, when it happens…don’t freak out. Take a few deep breaths. It’s OK if you are stressed out or anxious. You are going to be OK.
- Plan ahead. Think about what you have learned so far in your life about what helps you feel less stressed? Do you find it helpful to go for a walk in nature?How about getting some exercise, journaling, or meditation? Do you tend to get more stressed when you don’t get enough sleep? Some people like to drink some water, have some tea, hang out with some friends, call an old friend to catch up or take a break and see a movie. Do you like to volunteer your time? Come up with a list of things that work for YOU and how you can do those things when you come to campus. Also, be on the look out for new ideas and a willingness to try new things to manage your feelings as the year progresses.
- Do something! You can have a great plan but if you don’t ever act on it, meaningful change is unlikely. Once you identify a problem – “Hey- I am feeling overwhelmed and don’t want to get out of my bed!” try one of the things that can help you. You may have to try a few things until you find what is right for you… but you have to take the action to try the things or your situation will likely not improve. In fact, the negative consequences may continue to mount creating even more stress in the process.
- Reach out for support. You are NOT alone. Are you feeling homesick? Feeling worried that you won’t fit in? Excited for college but also nervous that you won’t be able to hack it? Guess what?! You are not the only one having those thoughts and feelings. When we connect with others through common experiences, we immediately start to feel less stressed even though nothing has actually changed with the situation we are in (it’s a neurological process via the release of serotonin- I love science!). Perspective is critical and it is the first thing to go when we are alone inside our own head. Talk to other people…in person…not just on Snapchat. Like walk down the hall and talk to your floor mate…face to face. Doest this seem scary and vulnerable? It may be… but it will make the biggest difference in whether you actually start to feel better in a sustainable way or if you will continue to struggle longer than necessary.
- Know when to reach out for the next level of help. If you are having suicidal or homicidal thoughts, or find that you’re so overwhelmed by your feelings that you are unable to go to class, or interact with others, it is definitely time to seek out the counseling center for help. Life also has a way of happening. Sometimes we lose people close to us or we get some unexpected difficult news. The counseling center can help you deal with those life stressors that you have no control over. The staff at the counseling center want to help you to succeed and thrive in life. There is no sense in dealing with this level of emotional distress on your own and while your new friends will likely want to help you too, this level of distress can start to take you in a dangerous direction. Professional and confidential mental health help is available to you on campus free of charge, so please take advantage of this service when you need it.
- There are a number of resources on campus to help support your success and wellness. From the Student Success Center, to Residential Life, to Student Life, to the Student Health and Counseling Center, and much much more… they are all there to help you have a successful and positive college experience. But no one can make that happen for you. We can partner with you on your journey, but this is YOUR journey to make. We are excited that you have chosen Clarkson and look forward to embarking on this adventure with you!