Supporting Your Student as They Prepare for Finals

Believe it or not, next week is the last week of classes for the spring semester. It always feels like a surprise when the end of the semester rolls around. I’m never prepared for it, my classmates are never prepared for it, and I bet your student wasn’t prepared for it either. The thought of being done with classes and going into summer break is very exciting, but that thought is often overshadowed by the impending stress of finals week. Here are some tips on how to support your student as they finish up their classes:

  1. Remind them to take care of themselves. There is a lot of pressure for students around finals week. They feel as though they need to pull all-nighters, run on coffee, skip meals, and just neglect the basic necessities of living in order to study and prepare for exams. This is not the case. In order to do better on their finals, students need to actually take care of themselves. Ask your student what they ate today, how much sleep they got, what they are doing to take care of themselves, etc. Feeling good physically will help them feel better mentally, and they will be better equipped for finals week. 
  1. Suggest making a schedule. The most efficient way for your student to manage their time and practice effective studying is to make a study schedule. Dedicating time in their day to studying is a good way to avoid procrastination and wasting time. In addition, they should also schedule in breaks to avoid over studying and burning out. Breaks are essential to learning, so make sure to encourage them to take breaks throughout their day, eat a meal, go outside, or just do something to clear their mind and relieve stress.
  1. Encourage them to research study tips. Something that so many students are guilty of, myself included, is never learning healthy study habits that will lead to long-term success. Students often will study for hours on end rereading textbooks and quizzing themselves on information that is not going to be relevant to their exam. It can also be hard for students to accept that the study habits they have now just don’t work for them. Encourage your student to do some research and find different study tips online that will help them be successful and retain the information, not just memorize it.
  1. Remind them of their resources on campus! FSU’s campus has a multitude of academic resources for your student to take advantage of during finals week. The ACE center, the Reading & Writing Center, various libraries and study rooms, office hours, and so much more is just a quick walk away. Students often feel like preparing for finals is something that is done all on their own, but that’s not true. These resources are there to help them. Remind them that they aren’t alone, and that if they are struggling to grasp the information or simply just need another set of eyes to look over their paper, campus resources are here to help. 
  1. Send them a gift or a note of encouragement. Most importantly during this stressful time, your student just wants to feel your love and support. Send them something that will make them smile, like a gift basket, their favorite snack, something from home, a Squishmallow, whatever it may be that will cheer them up. A simple letter of encouragement telling them that they got this is all that it takes as well. Remind them that you are always there for them no matter what happens and that a single test grade does not measure their success as a person. 

It’s important to remind your student of the success that they have had year-round and that this one week of stress does not diminish their hard work. Whether it’s their first year or their last, finals week will always be stressful; tell your student that they are almost at the finish line and that you are proud of them! 

Written by Rylee Mehr

Making Major Mistakes

Picking a major can be very difficult. Students are expected to come in, typically fresh out of high school, and choose an area of study that they are intending on working with for, essentially, the rest of their lives. It’s different for every student, but for me personally, I had no idea who I was at 18 years old.

I started at FSU in 2018 after I graduated high school, and I came in supposedly knowing exactly what I wanted. I was going to go to vet school and become a veterinarian. At the time, I was working at a local animal hospital as a kennel technician, and I felt like it was the right career for me. My major was Behavioral Neuroscience, and I couldn’t wait to start taking classes that I was actually interested in. As it turns out, you don’t actually start taking these classes until you get through your prerequisite courses. 

My first semester of classes was really difficult. I was not prepared for the fast-paced, often impersonal teaching style that some classes had to offer. In high school, teachers had the time to work with you individually during class and help you understand the material. In college, there can be over 200 students in a class, and the professor just simply doesn’t have the time to check in on every single one and see how they’re doing. Students should take advantage of office hours to get additional help. The concept of office hours was very daunting to me as a freshman. I regretfully never took advantage of them, and I paid the price for it. 

I did not do well in my science classes that first semester… and also the semester after that. No matter how hard I studied, how much I did extra assignments or watched additional video lectures online, the information just didn’t click. I had to ask myself if this was really the major for me–a conversation that I had been avoiding. Not only was I not doing well in my classes, I wasn’t enjoying them. The hands-off lecture style where they speak and I take notes was not working for me. People in my classes were making friends and forming study groups, but I kept to myself. I felt as though I wasn’t smart enough to interact with my peers. I was miserable, yet I couldn’t think of another career that I was interested in. That’s when I joined an organization on campus.

The organization I’m in is through the College of Music. I’ve always been involved with music, and I wanted to make new friends and do service, so I joined even though I was not interested in being a music major. I got the opportunity to be the public relations chair and run the social media accounts, and this is where everything changed for me. I loved it. I loved making graphics, writing posts, managing social media, everything that came with the job was so fun for me. It took me a while to realize that this was actually something I could pursue as a career. I wanted to change my major, but I wasn’t sure what exactly to change it to. 

Upon talking with some friends who had similar experiences, I visited an advisor within the College of Communication and Information. I had my sights set on the Public Relations major, but the advisor introduced me to another program that may be a better fit–Editing, Writing and Media, a major in the English department. I had always done well in English throughout school, and it was actually something I really enjoyed; I just had never explored it as an option for a career. I went home and did an excessive amount of research and decided that this was the major for me. I did the paperwork to make the change and was in English classes the next semester.

Here I am, at the end of my undergraduate career, graduating next semester with a degree in Editing, Writing and Media with a Philosophy minor. This is entirely different from what I had envisioned for myself as a freshman, but that’s what college is all about. If I hadn’t allowed myself to make those mistakes and explore options that were not for me, I would not have the appreciation for my major and for school that I have now. 

I love my major, and I feel so fortunate to be taking classes that I’m interested in and also good at. When I was in the wrong major, I had convinced myself that school wasn’t for me and I wasn’t smart, but I just was not where I was supposed to be yet. College is a journey of self discovery, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. Every mistake is a learning opportunity to grow and learn more about yourself, and I’m so grateful that my mistakes led me to where I am now.

Written by Rylee Mehr

Supporting Your Upperclassman

The transition from high school to college is a difficult one that can cause a lot of stress on both students and parents alike. The classes are more complex, students are away from home for the first time, and finding their place on campus can be intimidating. However, in my experience, this transition is misrepresented as the most challenging one that you will have in undergrad. No one properly prepares you for the transition that I found to be the most complicated: switching from general prerequisites to upper division classes.

As a freshman, I couldn’t wait to get into the nitty gritty of my major and start taking classes that I knew I would actually enjoy. I was taking the basic prerequisites–biology, various math classes, that one English class that everyone is required to take–and I just longed for the day that my classes would finally stimulate my interests. When the time finally came for me to register for my upper division classes, I was intimidated but beyond excited. I had heard that upper division classes were different from those that you take in your first two years, but honestly, there isn’t really a way to prepare for this change. 

Your prerequisite courses are meant to give you a broad overview of essentially any field that you could go into, but in reality, they are just the basic premise of the subject. My major is English, and I assumed that I would be able to excel in my upper division classes because I’ve been taking English classes for most of my life. The harsh reality of college is that, sometimes, your prerequisite or freshmen classes do not accurately prepare you for the work that is expected of you in your major. I was blindsided when I took my first writing class. Despite how interesting the class was, the workload was at an intensity I wasn’t sure I could handle.

This change was a wake up call for me. Academics were starting to get serious, and the content of my classes quickly changed to information that I needed to know for my career. “Skating by” in class was not going to cut it anymore. My first semester in my upper division courses was the hardest semester I’ve had in college, academically and mentally, because it was so remarkably different from my previous semesters. I was so fortunate to have my family there to support me and cheer me on during this transition.

Nearly every day, I would call my parents and tell them how stressed out I was, but they never got annoyed with me or told me I was being dramatic. They were always supportive and willing to hear me out and help me rationalize my anxieties. They were always the first people to reassure me that I was smart and capable of doing well in my classes. On days when I was more relaxed, they would call me or send me a text to check in and see how school was going. They recognized that I was overwhelmed, and they did everything they could to make sure that I knew they supported me. Despite the trials from that semester, I ended up getting all A’s, and my parents let me know how proud they were.

I can’t imagine going through that semester and all the ones following it without the love and support from my parents. This is the easiest way that you can help your student going through the same transition. It can be a shocking experience that takes a lot of adjustments. Listen to them when they call, don’t make them feel ashamed for not doing as well as you or they want, check in on them, talk about things other than school to take their mind off the subject, just communicate with your student. Know their boundaries as well. If they need less communication, listen to them. Maybe only check in every so often. Do what you can to make sure that they’re okay because it could make a difference in how they deal with the stress. Even if I didn’t show it at the time, I was always grateful for the support my parents showed me in my academics, and your student will be grateful, too.

Written by Rylee Mehr

Let’s Talk the Talk 

As a student, you have multiple intersecting identities. You are a student (who takes many classes), a friend, a roommate, a sibling, a partner, an activist, a leader, etc. There are times when everything can become too much. Class assignments seem to be piling up, and you can’t keep up with them. You may feel distant from your friends back home and notice a change in tone or pace depending on how often you are speaking to them. If it’s your first year, you also might be experiencing roommate challenges, and the expectation of becoming best friends with your roommates is far out of reach. If this wasn’t enough already, you might also find yourself longing to be back home and in the comfort of family. As you are trying to navigate these many challenges, it is important to recognize when it’s time to reach out for support.

Signs to recognize its time to try counseling or therapy.

  • Stress exceeds your resources and ability to cope 
  • Your day-to-day routine is off 
  • Regular activities seem exhausting 
  • You are overwhelmed with the amount of work you have
  • You have experienced trauma and need a space to process 
  • You feel like you are not working at 100%
  • Going through a major transition in your life
  • You are having difficulty regulating your emotions
  • Building and maintaining relationships is becoming difficult 
  • You are have been engaging in unhealthy patterns or behaviors 

Let’s Walk the Walk

Starting counseling can be daunting and challenging for many; your emotions are all over the place and sitting in front of someone telling them about the most challenging parts of your life can be difficult. Find comfort in the fact that counselors are ready to support you through any and all life challenges without judgment. 

If you have decided to seek counseling, FSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services is a great place to start. Here is some insight into what your first visit might look like and feel like. 

  • Your first meeting has to be in-person at the Counseling & Psychological Services during the walk-in appointment times from 8:00 – 4:00 pm. You cannot begin this process via email. Here is a suggestion: go ahead and pick a time when you will be near the Askew Student Life Building. If you are located near the building, you will not have time to doubt your decision. It will also make your visit more convenient/less stressful for you.
  • You will approach the desk and be asked to complete paperwork; here, you will need your device to access the internet. This meeting is not a counseling session, however, you will meet with a triage counselor to determine your needs and course of action. Take a deep breath. During this time, you will be in great hands. 
  • When you meet with the triage counselor, be honest and transparent. Let them know what brought you in and all the factors that led you to seek counseling. It might be difficult to have this conversation and it will more than likely bring strong emotions. Please know the triage counselor is prepared for these strong emotions and will support you through the session. 

As you embark on this journey towards balance and healing, it is important to keep in mind that your counseling journey will not be a straight path, but rather one filled with many twists and turns. Some sessions will be filled with high emotions and others will be filled with pondering questions and thoughts. Keep close that your counselor is there to guide you every step of the way and that you are not alone in this journey. 

Written by Yanira Campos

First-Gen Week

First Generation. What does this mean? This identity piece holds many different meanings to people, some of which are bravery, courage, resilience, and adversity.

To provide a simple definition and to root the collective experience of many, first-generation describes a college student from a family whose older members have not completed a Bachelor’s degree. 

First-generation students walk on to campus with passion, purpose and perseverance as they are paving a path for themselves and their families. At Florida State University, about 25% of undergraduate students identify as first-generation. Making connections and building a strong and supportive community is essential to navigating the college journey for first-generation students. It is important that these students see themselves represented in different spaces and know that they are not alone in the journey, but in contrast, they share many same life experiences. 

November 8, 2021 is National First-Generation College Celebration. The Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) is celebrating and bringing awareness to what it means to be first-generation students all week long through November 12. CARE is hosting a series of workshops and panels throughout the week to highlight the many resources available to students at FSU. Additionally, a community service project will be taking place all week long which encourages faculty, staff, students to donate items or contribute to the creation of care packages for the Kearney Center. The following items needed are: reusable water bottles, toilet paper, pens and pencils, laundry detergent, general cleaning supplies, luggage and string backpacks, or blankets. The week will end with a celebration where all first-generation students, faculty and staff can come together in fellowship on Landis with free food, music and giveaways. 

CARE offers many opportunities to assist first-generation students throughout their journey at FSU. FGEN Nole Network includes peer-to-peer outreach, faculty and staff engagement, advocacy, and community. The peer-to-peer outreach includes the O-team, a group of undergraduate students who are committed to supporting first-generation students to navigate their experience at FSU. O-Team leaders serve as an information hub, a connection to experiences, and a friendly Nole that understands the student experience. Faculty and staff from a variety of academic colleges provide advocacy and support for students by building a community within their college and hosting small group engagements throughout the semester. Advocacy and community are facilitated through social engagements that are hosted by first-generation students. 

To learn more information about First-Gen Week, check out this link. Take a sneak peek of all that is happening during First-Gen Week at FSU! #CelebrateYou

Written by Yanira Campos

Tackling the First-Year Slide

For more reasons than one, college is hard. Between being away from home for the first time, trying to make new friends and finding where you fit in, choosing a major that interests you, and figuring out what on earth you are going to do with your life, the first year of college is a huge life transition. As you move through the semester, different areas of your life may begin to take priority while others fall on the back burner. Something that typically gets left behind by first-year students caught up in the newness of college is academics.

This is something that I want to highlight for first-year students. It is not uncommon for your grades to fall in your first year of college. You are thinking and learning differently than when you were in high school. College challenges students to think critically about concepts rather than just memorizing facts that will be on a test. This is a huge adjustment that takes time to get used to. It is perfectly normal for the stress and newness of everything around you to weigh on your shoulders, and it is important for you to recognize that you are not alone.  A lot of students feel this way, even beyond just the first year, because this is one of the biggest life transitions that you can experience. Give yourself some grace as you navigate through all this change.

While adjusting to your new learning habits in college, there are still some ways that you can help yourself out academically. Here are some helpful tips on overcoming the first-year slide:

  • Identify your priorities. The first thing you’ll want to do is to identify what is important to you and what you dedicate your time to. Try making a list of what you are involved in, what your current priorities are (be honest with yourself), and what you want them to be. This will allow you to visualize where you can make adjustments in your daily schedule and add in any additional study time, homework time, reading time, etc.
  • Learn how to appropriately manage your time. When balancing a heavy course load, students sometimes struggle to designate the appropriate amount of time to each class. You may have a really big paper due tomorrow but decide to work on your math homework that is due next week instead. It’s easy to procrastinate in this way and tell yourself, “oh, well I’m still working on an assignment that needs to get done, so I’m being productive.” This is poor time management. Prioritizing bigger assignments or assignments that are due sooner than others will make a huge difference in your academics throughout the semester.
  • Eliminating distractions. Once you sit down to do your homework or catch up on some reading, that is what you should be focusing on. There are so many distractions around us that make it easy to say, “I’m just going to take a 5 minute break to look at social media,” but more often than not, 5 minutes can turn into an hour. Being disciplined during your study time and not allowing yourself to get distracted will make lectures and future assignments easier to understand. You will also be able to perform better on assignments and assessments because you will be able to give them your full attention. Turn off your phone, find a quiet place alone or with people who won’t distract you, and set aside time to really focus on academics.
  • Use the resources available to you on campus! Florida State University has so many resources that support students on campus who are struggling, whether that be academically or in other areas of life. A few of these resources include:

Everything that we do in life is a valuable experience that we can learn from. It is completely normal to make mistakes in uncharted territory, and it’s important to know that your mistakes are just as important as your successes. Allow yourself room to grow over time, and take advantage of the resources provided to you and the people willing to help you succeed academically.

Written by Rylee Mehr

Finding The Right Communication with Your Student

Hey, I did get that vid of Dad fishing! Great stuff - sorry I can’t talk right now; I’m meeting with my process design team. I know it’s been a minute since I’ve called, but I promise I’m okay. It’s my last year here at Florida State University, and I have grown so much. I’m sure you were probably sick of me calling every day of freshman year telling you about the latest campus quirk, but now I’m in the groove of things. You are probably worried, but I promise that I am still the same Anne who tried to drive that pink Barbie Jeep to the first day of Pre-K, just a little taller, but still have that Jeep! 
I’m making a lot of lifelong friends within the Chemical Engineering department; my peers and friends are so driven, and that is something I want to emulate. It has been a rewarding experience to see everyone start to find their passion. The hardest thing right now is finding time to do everything I want to do. It was challenging to learn how to tell people I can’t hang out – FOMO is still so real, but finishing this degree is definitely my priority. I am currently involved with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and I recently sat on their panel for the seniors who finished an internship! Also, through the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, I had the opportunity to attend a Fundamentals of Risk-Based Process Safety Workshop. Even though I am coming to a close in this chapter, there is still much to do. I do have to say, Google Calendar has really come in handy – I used to be so disorganized, but now I upgraded.

Anyway take care, and we’ll talk soon

Does this communication sound familiar? Does it bring a mix of feelings? As the family member of a college student, it is important to acknowledge that you are also experiencing a transition. Your student is no longer at home, and it is natural to want to connect and make sure they are safe. Find peace and reassurance in that your student cares for you, but their schedule is jam-packed with new experiences. Consider the tips below to help you during this transition. 

  • Embrace technology
    • Your conversations will more than likely be taking place over the phone. Facetime is a great way to connect with your student and feel as if you are sharing space. 

If you have an android and your student has an iPhone, you can still video chat through apps like Facebook Messenger, Google Duo, Whatsapp, etc. 

  • Establish a Communication Schedule 
    • Open up a conversation with your student, and be prepared to listen. Prioritize your student’s success in the conversation rather than your own emotions. Your student might feel pressure to create more space in their schedule than they have available if you express disappointment which can be overwhelming for them. Try to make a schedule around the time that they have available rather than pressuring them to adjust their busy schedule. 
    • Frequency: Establish how many times a week you will communicate with each other. Establish a limit, how often is too often? How often is not enough? Justify your answer in safety rather than emotion. Discuss a frequency that both of you feel comfortable with and allow mutual boundaries to be set.  
    • Communication Method:  Establish how you will communicate. Text, phone call or video chat are great options that allow for open communication. Know that each communication requires a different amount of commitment, and consider your student’s schedule for the day of communication. 
  • Establish Visiting Days
    • Ask them what days would be best for them to come home. With a busy college schedule, finding free days to visit home can be a challenge. Maybe try and plan out these days a month or so in advance so that your student has plenty of time to prepare. It is very rare that a student can take a spontaneous trip home, so be prepared to give your student an advance notice.
    • Ask them if they would be interested in having you visit them in their space.  Events like Family Weekend or induction night of an organization, society, etc. are great opportunities for family members to come and visit. Make sure that you plan your trip for a day or weekend that your student has a lot of time available so that they can give you their full attention and make your visit worthwhile.

Allowing your student to establish these boundaries with you when it comes to communication is essential to maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with them while they are away. Their time in college can be difficult for both of you, but it’s important to give them their space to grow and to celebrate this growth with them whenever you get the chance!

Written by Yanira Campos

Family Weekend 2021

Well, it is that time of year…Family Weekend! We are excited to welcome all of our ‘Nole Families to campus for this amazing and engaging weekend. Family Weekend is fun for all those that students call family: parents/guardians, brothers/sisters, grandparents, uncles/aunts, all are invited to take part in next weekend. For many of you, this will be your first time on campus in a bit, while for others, you were here not too long ago to drop your ‘Nole off for their first year at Florida State. Next weekend is set to be exciting on campus and we cannot wait to see each of our amazing families around the Florida State and Tallahassee community!

There is an action-packed schedule for our Family Weekend attendees and their students. Families in the past have opted to arrive in Tallahassee early on Friday so they can get a jump start on seeing their ‘Nole and to take advantage of the opportunities and engagements that Family Weekend has to offer. Families can arrive as early as noon on Friday where they can check-in or even register for the weekend itself. Check-in will take place on Landis Green and will run from 12 pm until 9 pm.

Are you more of a fine arts person? The Museum of Fine Arts (MoFA) is open to the public each day of Family Weekend from 10 am until 8 pm. MoFA has a history of exciting exhibitions—from lush painting to dynamic sculpture, from challenging installations to provocative photography. MoFA connects Florida State University and the broader community to the arts. In addition to maintaining a permanent collection of over 6000 objects, MoFA presents exhibitions of historical and contemporary artworks that contribute meaningfully to the scholarship and conversations.  Exhibits during Family Weekend include A Shared Body, Napoleon at the Movies, and Social Distance.

Students work out at the FSU Leach Center on the Florida State University campus.

Want to get a workout in? The Leach Recreation Center will be available from 6 am-8 pm for family members to get a workout free of charge with their student. Family members must be 18 years or older.

Feeling creative? Check out Paint-A-Pot in the Askew Student Life Center! The Oglesby Union Art Center’s Paint-A-Pot program is a popular pastime that anyone can enjoy. Choose from a variety of pre-made ceramic pieces starting at just $1. No pre-registration is needed; drop in and create something great today! Paint-A-Pot pricing includes glaze, clear-coat firing, unlimited paint time, and relaxing space for a fun experience for all ages and artistic abilities. Ask our staff for tips and tricks if you need a little extra inspiration; they’re always willing to help.

Some of the highlights of Friday are Campus Hotspots, Family Photos at Westcott, Cookout on the Green, and the Dessert Reception for Out-of-State Families.

Campus Hotspots, hosted by New Student and Family Programs, is an opportunity for you to see the campus from a student’s eye. Brief, guided tours around campus by our orientation leaders will provide families insight into what their student experiences each day on campus. These brief tours will begin at 2 pm and will leave every 30 minutes from Landis Green with the last tour departing at 3:30 pm. You do not want to miss this opportunity while you are here with us on campus!

Family Photos at Westcott allows families to get a photo in one of Florida State’s most notable locations on campus and allows them to have a memento to remember their time on campus.

The Dessert Reception for Out-of-State Families will take place in the William Johnston Building Atrium. The event is an opportunity for those families joining us from beyond Florida to gather together and “rep their state.” There will be giveaways and a special welcome from the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Joe O’Shea.

Cookout on the Green is something you do not want to miss! Located on Landis Green, this event is sure to be a highlight of families’ time on campus! Allowing families to catch up, get to know, and engage with other families while learning about your ‘Nole’s experiences on campus. If you have not registered for this event, you can do so at the Check-in table on Landis Green; for adults/FSU students the fee is $20, children 6-10 the price is $10, and children 5-under are free.

As one of only two collegiate circuses in the nation, the FSU Flying High Circus puts on an amazing show for students and families. Aerialists, gymnasts, clowns, and jugglers all make for a family-friendly activity that will have you smiling from ear to ear. There are two opportunities to see them while in town, so if you have tickets–we promise the show will not disappoint! If you have purchased tickets for the circus performance, you can pick these up at your check-in or the Circus Box Office, one hour before your showtime.

If you and your family are participating, please arrive by 7 am to check-in at the tent. Following the Fun Run & Walk, the weekend will continue with the Tailgate Brunch and games on Landis Green. Join us for a delicious brunch menu, lawn games, and get ready to cheer on the Seminoles as they take on Syracuse! Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the check-in tents on Landis Green; for adults/FSU students, $18, children 6-10, $9, and children 5-under, free.

Kickoff for the game is 3:30 pm giving families ample time to fit in a trip to the Sod Cemetery or watch the Marching Chiefs’ “skull session” at Dick Howser Stadium, approximately two and half hours before kickoff. If attending the game in-person, be sure to arrive at your seat early so as not to miss the exciting opening from Chief Osceola and Renegade spearing the field, signaling the start of the game!

The ultimate goal of the weekend is for you as families to reconnect with your student in the place they now call their second home. Take this time to remind your student how proud you are of them, give them a tight hug, and show them that you care. Know that, though they will be trying to play it cool, your student is excited that you are coming to campus and looks forward to showing you what it means to be a Seminole at Florida State!

To learn more about Family Weekend, check out our website here!

A Letter To My Freshman Self

Dear freshman year self, 

Getting involved has been one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. I remember when you had thoughts about not making friends at FSU and thinking you were going to be alone throughout your 4 years of college. Look at you now, a 2021 Orientation Leader surrounded by an amazing team who pushes you to be the best you can be. Not only are you making an impact in your family for being the first person in your family to attend college, but you’re also making an impact on incoming students. Who would have thought that the shy person you were would become a resource for family members and incoming students? I’m proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring the different opportunities FSU has to offer. You were so worried about failing your classes and not doing good academically, but you have finished off your first year of college strong. You attended ACE workshops to help you learn strategies on dealing with test anxiety and even went to the Reading, Writing, Center when you knew you were struggling with your ENC 2135 class. It all paid off because you made both the President’s List and Dean’s List. I cannot tell you how happy and proud I am of you for always trying your best, despite having the constant fear of being a failure and disappointing your parents. I know that you always had that thought of disappointing your parents in the back of your head, but you have made them so proud with everything you have accomplished at FSU so far. I know you don’t see it out now but all those nights of studying and feeling overwhelmed will pay off soon when you graduate and walk across the stage. I know you didn’t imagine your first year of college to be in a virtual setting. I also know how difficult it was for you not to have an in-person high school graduation and how sad you were to not be able to have an in-person Summer Bridge Program experience. Despite these circumstances and having to take virtual classes during the pandemic you still persevered and made it through your first year of college. I cannot tell you how amazing of an idea it was to get yourself a planner. Getting a planner helped you stay organized and keep track of your assignments. Thank you for always pushing yourself and never giving up even when you felt like you couldn’t keep going anymore. Also, props to you for taking advantage of the different resources FSU has to offer and attending Career Center workshops to help you build your resume and learn how to network with others. You have surprised me and the way you have managed to get through all the obstacles during your first year of college. Never be afraid to reach out for help and always continue believing in yourself. Always push yourself and always push those around you to be the best they can be. Continue working on your goals and never forget that you are not alone throughout this college journey because FSU has many resources available to help you feel supported and succeed through your college years.


Nikki (your second-year self)

Nikki Alvarado, Miami FL

Maintaining Academic Integrity at FSU

With the end of the semester only a few weeks away, chances are your student has several exams, quizzes, projects, and more due before the Spring semester is officially over. As students navigate in person and virtual learning, it is important to remind your student how crucial it is to maintain their academic integrity when submitting any assignment.

Joshua Morgan, Program Manager for Academic Integrity in the Office of The Vice President for Faculty Development & Advancement, offers some encouragement and advice regarding academic integrity as we wrap up the semester. Read his message below:

Thank you for your dedication to your student’s success! By reading this newsletter, I know that you are deeply invested in your student’s efforts to complete their studies in a quality manner.

Whether your loved one is a seasoned college student or acclimating to FSU’s rigorous expectations, part of their responsibility is to exercise academic integrity. Obviously, you would never want your student to learn from an unknowledgeable professor, get medical advice from a fraudulent doctor, or hire an unethical lawyer; FSU similarly expects students to engage their coursework honestly so they can one day serve their communities with merit-based skills and credentials.

Why do good students sometimes act dishonestly? Some explanations from students include:

  • Struggling with a subject and not knowing where to seek help.
  • Being surprised by the pace and rigor of college academics (versus high school expectations).
  • Wanting to avoid disappointing loved ones by not completing a specific major or program.
  • Neglecting to register their accommodation needs with The Office of Accessibility Services.
  • Lacking awareness that their behaviors were violations of the Academic Honor Policy.

How can you help your student maintain their integrity? Encourage them to do the following:

  • Read the Academic Honor Policy and their instructors’ syllabi. Adhering to both is required!
  • Participate in the Academic Center for Excellence’s tutoring and consultation services.
  • Meet with the Office of Accessibility Services. Disability accommodations may help them maximize their potential; having extra help available doesn’t hurt – even if it is not used.
  • Get familiar with Honorlock: It’s an exam proctoring system that monitors testing behavior.
  • Use iThenticate to check essays and related projects for plagiarism before submitting them.
  • Be cautious when using websites, social media, and apps for studying. Unauthorized usage of, or group work on, platforms like GroupMe,, Snapchat, TikTok, etc. can lead to Academic Honor Policy allegations – and remember that people can take screenshots to document dishonest behavior!
  • Communicate with professors as a first resort. They want to help but that’s difficult to do if students wait to ask for help at the last minute. If something in your student’s life will impact their academic performance, remind them to notify their professors early. Case Management can help advocate for students as well.

If you want to learn more about academic integrity and helping your students to problem solve, please visit and read Resolving Academic Problems: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students.

Wishing your students well,

Joshua Morgan, Program Manager for Academic Integrity
Office of The Vice President for Faculty Development & Advancement