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Things to Know: A Guide to Navigating a New Semester

Things to Know: A Guide to Navigating a New Semester

Posted: August 29, 2019

The fall 2019 semester is officially underway, and whether you’re a new or returning Bengal, resident or commuter, getting into the swing of things can be stressful.

Being prepared, however, can help you shake off the stress. Timothy Gordon, vice president for student affairs, and Daniel Heims, associate director of student leadership and engagement, shared details about what the campus community can expect this semester, from renovations to where to get important resources, and even a few tips for navigating collegiate life.

Here’s what you need to know:

Everything You Need, All in One Place (Soon)

Actually...in several places, but consolidation is key this semester.

A massive $16.1 million renovation project continues inside E. H. Butler Library to bring together services to better meet students’ academic needs, including the Writing Center, the Math Center, the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), the Advising Center, the Academic Center for Excellence, subject-specific tutoring, and Student Accessibility Services.

While those renovations continue, Butler Library remains a hub for other important services to get the year started. Head to the second floor to get your student ID and, if needed, an NFTA Metro card, which is free to all full-time undergraduate students.

Another consolidation to help students is the relocation of Parking Services from Chase Hall to Moot Hall. The move makes more convenient the process of students getting the resources they need without having to trek across campus for multiple services, now giving students access to Parking Services, Student Accounts, and Financial Aid, all under one roof.

For those seeking entertainment, enlightenment, or networking opportunities (or a mix of all three), check out the Weeks of Welcome schedule on the Student Leadership and Engagement site, which features a number of social events hosted by different departments through October 11.

“We’re trying to create a centralized area for students to come and learn about events through our social media and through various forms of communication,” Heims said. “We’re looking at ways that our office can collaborate with clubs and organizations and other offices on campus to really create impactful and positive experiences for students.”

In addition to the Student Leadership and Engagement website, be sure to keep up with Buffalo State on social media, and look out for the SLE’s new handle, @LifeAtBuffState, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat for the latest on student life, campus events, and student clubs and orgs.

Other Campus Improvements

With a few restricted walkways, it’s hard to miss the construction going on at the Science and Math Complex. The building is in its final phase of development, however (with an estimated completion period of summer 2020), and despite its name, it will have a little space for everyone. 

Gordon recently took a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility, and he shared some details about the intended use of the building’s space.

“It’s not just for students who are studying in those areas,” Gordon said, “but it’s going to be a great social and study space for any student looking for a different place to study.”

Also improved to expand its functions is the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium, which is temporarily located in Buckham Hall. The planetarium will move to its forever home in the Science and Math Complex as part of the final phase of construction in summer 2020, but even now, in Buckham Hall, the planetarium is not just for celestial bodies anymore. The projector now accommodates numerous fields and areas of study. For example, a biology class can project a model of the human heart for analysis. Even more, the planetarium will stream live feeds to NASA.

Science and Math Complex renovations also include a new outdoor teaching area that will be used to foster creativity and collaborations between faculty and students; for example, the geology program will use the space to show the phases of rock formations, demonstrating such processes as weathering and erosion over time.

“It’s really about the great ways in which our faculty continue to lead in teaching things in different ways,” Gordon said.

Other improvements include a newly renovated Coyer Field and Tower 3 residence hall for upperclassmen.

While much has been done already, Gordon said, the campus community can anticipate even more changes, as plans to improve spaces for student activities and organizations will be ongoing throughout the year.

New Career and Skill-Building Opportunities

Buffalo State has been working not only to improve facilities but also to improve opportunities for students to link their professional and educational endeavors in successful ways. 

While the Campbell Student Union is one of the most popular hangout spots during Bengal Pause and between classes, you may find yourself dropping in more often for career-building opportunities than for recreation.

With a new staff and a new leadership program series for individual students and organizations, the Student Leadership and Engagement Office (Campbell 400) is your hub for resources to help you gain professional experience through job shadowing, hands-on training, and assistance from internship coordinators.

Another beneficial new resource is the Peer Mentor Program, which Heims described as “a great opportunity to have more individualized contact with students.” 

Peer mentor coaches offer assistance by gauging any issues students may have, whether through direct conversations or through feedback from faculty within the student’s department.

Words of Wisdom

Change is good, but it can also be terrifying. For first-year and continuing students alike, here are a few tips to help make the best of change.

From Gordon: “Find your tribe, one that’s going to support you, allow you to get involved, and push you a little bit.”

“Figure out your plan for when things don’t go the way you want them to.”

“Figure out how to manage and deal with people who have different perspectives, or different ways of going about life, than you do. I think it’s pretty universal; whether you’re living in a residence hall or working on a group project, everybody has a different style. You have to figure out how to navigate those things because those are important skills that you’re going to have to apply in future classes and when you go out into the world of work.”

Three tips from Heims: “Know your connections, in the sense of your friendship connections, meeting new people, your faculty and staff connections, getting connected through classes; know your connections and learn from them.”

“Experience something new. It’s easy to fall into comfortable habits, so experience something new, something that maybe you wanted to do before but didn’t, whether you were just ingrained in your day-to-day with your friends or you didn’t feel comfortable stepping out. Now is that opportunity when you can reinvent yourself and re-experience yourself.”

“Constantly push yourself and find people who are going to help push you for the better.”

And one last tip from Gordon: “Don’t fall behind in your studies. It’s much easier to keep up than it is to catch up.”

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