By: Irasema Romero
It a was a Saturday night in October and Emily Conkey was at her Orem home working on an English paper, while her roommates partied at a stake Halloween dance. When her mother saw her at the dining room table, she encouraged her to go have fun because she was missing memorable experiences.
Conkey wanted the much-needed distraction and ran to her room to get ready. When she arrived at the stake center, the dance had 15 minutes left, but she enjoyed every second of it.
“It’s the most fun dance I have ever been to, I wish I had gone beforehand,” she said. “Those are the things that you are going to remember about college.”
Conkey, now a senior majoring in public health, realizes there are several things about her freshman year that she wishes she had done differently.
Like her, other seniors look back at their freshman year and would have liked advice on how to make their first year in college a better experience.
Senior peer mentors at the Freshman Academy look to guide students during their first year by providing valuable advice.
Freshman students should experience things they would not have done before coming to college, senior Taylor Hawes, urban planning major from Salt Lake said.
One of Hawes most memorable experiences during his freshman year was winning second place in the Helaman Hall Bake-off.
He and his roommate baked and decorated a cheesecake that earned them a waffle iron.
“It was just a fun experience because it was something I thought I would never do,” he said.
Senior Ruth Hagmann’s freshman year experience was a little more daring.
For the BYU vs. Air Force football game, she and her friends decided to take a road trip to Colorado Springs. They stayed in the homes of family friends and ended up having a great time even though they did not know many people, she said.
“It’s something that I will never forget,” Hagmann said.
Conkey said freshman students should open up their circle of friends.
“Meeting people and interacting with people is what makes the college experience unique,” she said.
Conkey said the best roommates are not necessarily the closest friends, but those that will provide a comfortable home environment.
“I would say learning to live with people that are not like you is a really important skill to develop,” she said. “Some of my favorite roommates are the people who are totally different than me, but we just balance each other very well.”
Finding roommates that help balance academic responsibilities and social needs makes schoolwork seem less overwhelming, Conkey said.
She suggests staying at school to study and do homework so the distractions in the dorm rooms will not affect academic success.
She said when students go home with homework still to be completed, they may end up going out and doing things with roommates. As a result, they will stay up late finishing assignments.
Conkey understands feeling overwhelmed with course work, but has learned how to handle it.
“Really, if you just break it down and you do the work that you need to everyday, it’s manageable, if you don’t procrastinate large papers and projects,” she said.
Tests may be intimidating, especially when administered in the Testing Center, but there are things that can be done to improve the experience.
During the last final of her freshman year, Conkey decided to take the test in the music room of the Testing Center, where there is classical music is playing and a great view of campus, she said.
Halfway though the exam her mind blanked and she could not remember a single answer, so she took an hour-long nap before finishing the exam.
“Don’t be afraid to take a nap during your tests,” she said.
Taking a nap in the Testing Center certainly worked for Conkey: she scored a 95 on her final exam.