10 Tips For Your First Year in PBE
Congrats, you’ve made it! Graduated high school, got accepted to SUNY ESF, and you got accepted to the major of your choice, Paper or Bioprocess Engineering. But now what do you do? Your first year in college is an important one, but don’t worry! Your first big step out of Centennial Hall doesn’t have to be a scary one! So get ready to take notes because here are 10 tips to help you through your first year in the PBE department.
1. Invest in caffeinated drinks
Proud that you never had to drink coffee in high school, or went to bed at a normal hour? Well sorry to break the news to you, but that isn’t possible in college. You will have many sleepless nights your first year trying to balance homework and friends. But luckily there’s solace in knowing that there is a Starbucks really close to Centennial Hall, and they take your “SU bucks”!
2. Clubs are essential to college life
In your first few weeks, you’ll be trying to make as many friends as possible, but the real fun starts when you join clubs. During the fall and spring there is the Student Activities Fair. ESF is a really cool school simply due to the fact that we have so many clubs. Not only does joining a club give you the chance to have a break from school work but many clubs go on trips, have special events, and even free food! The best part though is the bonding you get with everyone being in a group with the same hobbies and goals as you do. Do you like plants? Join Plant Propagation club! Do you like music? Join Music Society! Do you like student government? Join USA! Want to join the hands down, best club on campus? Then join the PBE club!
3. Don’t bother explaining where Walters is
Walters is the home building of the PBE Department. This is where you will spend most of your time at ESF, but Walters is one of those buildings on campus where, unless you are in PBE, no one will ever visit or know it exists. It’s not that Walters is a bad building, it’s just so specific to our major, that no other major dares to try to take up our building. I mean, come on, we have a paper mill in our basement! That’s so much cooler than all of the taxidermy animals in Illick (though Illick is still a pretty cool building).
4. Prepare to get sweaty in seminar
If you thought the first year orientation was a sweaty week then you’ll be surprised to know that PBE seminar has that beat. All students on campus have to take an orientation seminar their first year with their major. Fortunately, ours is the coolest. Not only do you learn the “ins and outs” of campus life, but we also go on field trips! It’s like elementary school all over again, except instead of visiting a boring museum, we get to visit Anheuser Busch and Rock Tenn paper mill. One important thing though – the one downside of seminar is that Walters doesn’t have air conditioning. None, so you literally will be sweating. So prepare to sweat a lot and bring lots of T-shirts and shorts to campus. Also maybe a fan.
5. Professors are your best resource
Just because your teachers go from the title Mr. or Mrs. to Doctor, don’t let that scare you. Yeah, they have a few extra years of college and research under their belt but they are still people and should be reached out to. Our Department is unique in that most of our professors come from many diverse backgrounds and are the biggest innovators in our fields. Getting to know your professors is great because, not only are they very knowledgeable in their field and in life, but they are very helpful in networking, research opportunities and writing letters of recommendation (which you will need for future jobs/internships). Just make sure they are free before you barge into their office. That above is Dr. Scott, he is the Department Chair for PBE. You will see him a lot, and quickly learn that he is a big fan of the Green Bay Packers. He even has a giant cheese head in his office!
6. Did I mention that PBE club is the best club on campus?
7. 8am classes won’t kill you… that much
We all have had them, the dreaded 8am class. Yes I know you don’t want to go to your 8am Biology lecture, or your 8:25 am Computing Methods class, but you will miss out on so much if you don’t. One of the downsides of being in the PBE department is that since we are so small, a lot of our classes have only one section. The plus side to that though is that we get all of our classes out-of-the-way early so that the rest of the day is free for all sorts of activities, especially school sponsored activities. Just remember, go to sleep early or reference helpful tip #1 to make your 8am classes easier. I wasn’t kidding when I said caffeinated drinks will be your best friend.
8. Do your homework on time and preferably, early
I can’t stress this enough, do your homework on time or early! In the PBE Department, we start our first year off with some difficult classes, and if you were like me in high school, the phrase “due on Tuesday” really translated to “do on Tuesday”. You won’t want to do that here. In fact, the sooner you do your homework, the sooner you can be free to do the clubs you joined in helpful tip #2, or get sleep you won’t get in helpful tip #1. If you are having trouble understanding a class, there is a free tutoring service in Moon Library that can help you. I spent a lot of my time there when I was first trying to get the hang of things in college.
9. “We’re the three best friends that anyone can have…” – The Hangover
Remember how I said teachers are your most valuable resource? A close second is your friends. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am in this Department if it wasn’t for all of my friends and their support. Not only will friends help you when you are feeling down, or invite you over to have awesome movie nights, but they are your biggest help outside the classroom. Yeah they don’t know everything, but sometimes all it takes is someone to explain things a little differently for you to understand a concept in class. Even if they don’t have the answer, many of your fellow students in this Department will be more than happy to help you with whatever you need!
And finally for #10. . .
Remember that the college years are the best years of your life, make the most of it! If you are spending more time in your dorm room doing nothing, than you are doing homework or hanging with friends, then you are doing it wrong. ESF has so much to offer, especially to first year students, so please take advantage of everything!
Good luck and I wish you all the best at ESF!
Ashley Daniul is a Bioprocess Engineering major and plans to graduate in May 2017. You can reach her at email@example.com.