What's the most important thing incoming freshmen students can do when they start their academic careers at Kansas University?
``Relax,'' say four students who have just completed their first year on Mount Oread.
For Laurie Shadburn, Edwardsville, that means approaching education a semester at a time.
For example, she said, freshmen shouldn't worry about choosing a major the first day of college.
"Just get your requirements done," Shadburn said. "When I first got here, I believed that finding a major was the most important thing. Now I'm realizing that getting general requirements down is a lot more important, and you don't have to be rushed into finding out what you want to do."
Kentaro Fukada, Tokyo, Japan, said he would tell other international students to try to be sociable.
"JUST SIT BACK and relax," he said. "All these Japanese students, they come over so tensed up they're so excited."
Many Japanese students get homesick after two weeks, Fukada said, which is all the more reason they should strive to take things easy.
Matt Palubicki, Wichita, agrees with Fukada that new students should make connections and enjoy the diversity of life on campus.
"Try to meet as many different people as you (can)," he said. "Learn a diverse amount of stuff. If you're in a certain major, make sure you take some classes that are completely out of it to keep you sane."
And Amy Carter, Kansas City, Mo., said freshmen should make the most of the social opportunities that abound on campus.
"Relax and have a great time,'' she said. ``Enjoy the opportunities to go to all of the parties. With all the stress and strain, go out on Friday, but know the `border' so you can make class on Monday."
As the students noted, a freshman's life features a series of adjustments to classes, the campus and the people they live with.
The students also said that some aspects of college life offer both benefits and drawbacks.
For example, there's the size of KU to contend with. Students say they appreciated the diversity that comes with having 27,000 students on campus but didn't enjoy the large class sizes that can come with such a big enrollment.
"I LIKE that you can meet various kinds of people different cultures, different backgrounds and different kinds of political thinking," Fukada said. "It was real interesting. I could meet people I never thought I could meet when I came over here. I really enjoyed it."
On the other hand, he said, "Some classes are too big. Like you've got 300 people in some classes here. You hardly know somebody."
Carter agreed with Fukada.
"The best thing is the different kinds of people," she said. "If I was at a small school I would not have met foreign students. There also is a vast array of issues that are dealt with even if I didn't agree with them, I'm glad I've been exposed to it."
At the same time, Carter said, having so many students created some problems in large classes.
"I don't think you get the attention you need in larger classes," she said. "You have to see a teacher three or four times before they think you're a serious student."
Likewise, Shadburn said she enjoyed getting to know the people in her residence hall. "I remember the last weekend of last year, I was still meeting people," she said.
But as far as her experience in algebra 101, another large class, "I don't think that was set up right. I felt like you had to teach yourself. It did not seem like a good system."
AS WITH many freshmen, Shadburn realized that she had to improve her study habits, which took discipline on her part.
"I just had to buckle down," she said. "You have to know when it gets to a certain point that school definitely has to come first, which, when you first get here, is hard to understand. There's so many people around here and so many things to do."
Palubicki said he was drawn to KU by its high activity level.
"There's just a lot more happening here than in Wichita," he said, adding that he enjoyed the weekend parties at his residence hall.
Fukada said his father helped him select KU, and that he enjoys the green space that the campus offers. But adjusting to college took a lot of effort, he said.
"I had to adjust to everything," he said. "Daily life was a hard time for me because everything is so different for me.''
Shadburn said she thinks a residence hall is a good place to start making the adjustment to campus life.
"I think everybody should have to go through that," she said. "It's a different experience when you're being put into a situation of having all these people around you, having to adjust to schedules. It forces you to meet people."