By Mackenzie Davis
The process of becoming a freshman at Grand Rapids Community College can be daunting when thinking of driving downtown, finding classes and getting all the materials needed for the year. Once the first semester ends, most students feel comfortable with being on campus and the routine of classes, but how do they get over the first hill of nerves and confusion on their first day?
Student Daryl Mitz, 35, of Grand Rapids, advises that asking knowledgeable staff and students can be the first step toward success.
“Don’t be nervous about coming to a new environment,” Mitz said. “The staff is pretty friendly, and there is always someone around to ask for help if you need help.”
Mitz, who is a part of the culinary program at GRCC, also advises to keep an eye out for the many opportunities the program offers. “There’s a lot of resources out here as far as grants and stuff like that for the culinary students, so definitely be able to reach out as well.”
The culinary program is not the only place that offers these grants and scholarships. By filling out GRCC’s general scholarship application, students can be put in the running for more than 300 scholarships the school offers. For more information, go to GRCC Scholarships.
Ryan Corfixsen, a guest student at GRCC, suggests the most important thing is getting information on the resources the college offers.
“On your very first day make sure to introduce yourself to your professors and get acquainted with them,” Corfixsen said. “Be sure to understand where your resources are, whether you need help because you are going through something or you just need academic help.”
The Academic Support and Tutoring Services at GRCC are recommended if students are struggling with a certain class or subject. They offer drop-in or scheduled support that can be very beneficial to students. Also, talking with professors and classmates can be a helpful tool for students who have questions or need additional help.
The Student Center, located next to GRCC’s bookstore, is also a great resource for questions about getting around campus, getting a RaiderCard and a Go See GR card which allows free admissions for places around Grand Rapids. The Student Life office also provides a food pantry and other basic-need resources for students.
Other resources include the Success Center which runs workshops on procrastination, dealing with classes and many other challenges students face. Students are assigned a success coach who will check in with them throughout the year and are open to scheduling appointments.
New students should also know that free textbooks can be found at the GRCC library. Cynthia Brown, Evening Circulations Specialist and student supervisor at the library, shares the process of checking one of these textbooks out.
“We do have textbooks. We have a copy of almost all of them. If there is a copy that we don’t have, we are able to get them,” Brown said. “They check out for two hours and cannot leave the library but students can take pictures, they can scan it or they can just read it while they are in here.”
The Raider Connect website is a great resource for events going on at GRCC and getting in contact with Student Government and other groups around campus.
Exploring the campus before your classes start can be a great way to feel more confident for the first weeks of school. Alicia Abdo advises new students to prepare before the first day.
“Make sure you know where your classes are because there’s different buildings. It’s not like a university campus where you are living there.” Abdo said. “Get to know your teachers and if you have any accommodations make sure you get those in place.”
GRCC disability services are available for students who need any necessary accommodations to allow equal access to circular and co-curricular opportunities.
Maps of the GRCC campus are available online and are a great tool for new students exploring campus.
RaiderCards, which will be needed to access the parking ramps at a cheaper cost and get into most buildings on campus (effective Sept. 8), can be retrieved at new student orientation or at the Student Life office. Both of these instances require a photo ID, a student ID number and are needed for the first day of classes. To add money to a RaiderCard students can go through the student link or through ATMs around the GRCC campus.
With these tools and pieces of advice, students should also keep in mind that experienced GRCC staff are on campus to advise, teach and help students through the exciting start of freshman year.