If you are feeling nervous about beginning college for the first time, Keene State College may be the place to go.
The Huffington Post listed Keene State as one of the best colleges for the more socially awkward.
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The campus is welcoming to those who may not feel comfortable at small talk, or in large groups of people.
But faculty and students are here to guide those who may feel out of place, and help them get into the swing of things here on campus.
Many freshmen begin their college years before moving in that fall.
Accepted Students’ Day, which occurs during the spring before freshmen begin their first semester here, helps students become acclimated into the college setting.
“They get a feel for what residence halls are like, and what students life is going to be like at Keene,” Nate Gordon, coordinator of first year experience, said. “The start at Keene State is an exciting time for a collegiate career.” By the next time they make their way to campus, they will have been familiar with campus life, and the students are assigned an O-staffer, who is there for any questions they may have.
“The orientation program as a whole is really based on helping students feel comfortable,” Junior Bonnie Chalmers, an orientation leader, said.
The four days of orientation help prepare students for college tip-off. A number of activities are planned, along with seminars that students attend; all to prepare them for the college experience.
Students also are with the same group of students throughout that time span, and it helps them to become familiar and acquainted with each other. The orientation leaders come up with ice breakers for the students to participate in. It helps the students learn about one another and they see what they have in common. Some of the games may put students out of their comfort zone, but that is what brings the students together.
“Even when they feel uncomfortable, it’s a growing experience because once you feel uncomfortable and you start laughing about it, it makes you and everybody else feel comfortable,” Chalmers explained. When talking about team builders, Chalmers says it’s a great way to help people link other people together.
“Throughout the whole week they are with the same group of people. It gives them an opportunity to build relationships with each other and kind of get to know one another,” Chalmers said.
“Through the orientation program, they offer them an overview of all the services available on campus. They wouldn’t know about them unless somebody told them.” Coordinator of Health and Wellness Tiffany Matthews stresses that there are ample opportunities for students to get involved. She notes that not only does it help students out socially, but their school work and grades show improvement as well.
“Students who are more involved on campus, not only in classes but outside as well, the more successful, and healthier they will be,” Matthews said. “They end up being more successful academically.” There are over 100 different groups for students to get involved with. Somebody is always available for students to go talk to if they are having trouble, along with other people around campus that are always there for students to reach out to.
“I would say talk to your RA, talk to Jen Ferrell, go online, there is a whole list of student organizations on the student center website,” Chalmers said. Matthews added, “There are many different options for students to feel comfortable.” Being located on a small campus helps students become more comfortable with their surroundings.
“Keene with the size that it is, you get to know people on a first name basis,” Gordon said. However, it may not be as easy as it sounds. Students hope to come to college and make a group of friends they could stick with throughout the four years of being here. Matthews stressed that students find it hard to find a group, and students try to be somebody they are not. “It is difficult these days socially, you have peer pressure, and the normative behaviors which are perceived to be true,” Matthews said.
Joining a group on campus is a way for students to get involved. By joining groups, students have the opportunity to meet other students who can end up being life-long friends. Chalmers, the vice president of Habitat for Humanity, is involved with a number of groups on campus and she looks forward to going to the meetings.
“It is when I get to hang out with my friends,” Chalmers said. “I get a lot of opportunities also, such as going to conferences.” If students are unsure whether they should go to meetings, Chalmers says that she is always there to accompany them.
“I will invite somebody to come with me, it may make them feel more comfortable,” Chalmers said. There are many different ways for students to get involved, which could help them feel like they belong and less “socially awkward.” Matthews reiterated this, stressing that getting involved can bring students a long way.
“What it boils down to is the more involved students are, the more successful, happier, and healthier they are going to be.”
Lindsay Ross can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org