5 Secrets to a Stellar Start at Briercrest

Whether you are a freshman or a returning student, your first weeks help set the tone for the whole year! This guide will help you maximize your college experience, from making connections to setting goals.

The beginning of a new school year is always exciting, full of fresh starts, new opportunities, and new challenges. Whether you're a brand new freshman, eager to begin your college journey, or a returning student ready to take on another year of academic and personal growth, the first few weeks of the semester are crucial.

The first few weeks are when you'll establish new routines, meet new people, and set the tone for the year. From exploring your new campus and getting involved in clubs and organizations to setting academic and personal goals, there are endless possibilities for creating an inspiring and fulfilling college experience.

So, what are some things you can do to make the most of this exciting time? Here are a few things to try as you start this new chapter.

Briercrest College Check-In Day 2023

Embrace the power of community!

Starting college is a wild ride, right? Everything feels so new—new people to meet, new places to explore, and new pressures to navigate. But guess what? There's a secret ingredient that can make this transition a whole lot easier—community. Yep, having a crew of awesome folks around you can be a game-changer. And that's where the Resident Assistants (RAs) come in.

These RAs are like community superheroes. They're there to lead the way and create a tight-knit vibe in your dorm. So, instead of feeling like a lonely island, your hall becomes a place where friendships are born, experiences are shared, and support is just down the hall.

Oh, and here's another perk: being part of a hall means you get to rub shoulders with the upperclassmen who have already rocked the college experience. Talk about valuable resources! They've been there, done that, and can give you some seriously helpful insights and tips. If you're new to Briercrest, don't be shy to hit up those returning students and pick their brains about what to expect. They've got your back during this thrilling but sometimes challenging time.

Now, for you seasoned college pros—the second, third, and fourth-year students—here's your chance to pay it forward. Seek out those freshmen in your hall and show them the ropes. Your presence and support can mean the world to someone navigating the ups and downs of college life. Building a strong community is key to getting the most out of your education. It's all about coming together, forming connections, and creating lifelong friendships. And guess where it all starts? Right in your hall.

My suggestion to all—and from all my now-friends who did have roommates—is to spend some time in your room with your roommate, getting to know each other. Tips for Mastering the First Anxious Weeks of College

Be open to connection.

College is a whole different ball game when it comes to privacy. We all crave those moments of peace and solitude to recharge our batteries. Thank goodness for doors that close and give us our little sanctuaries.

But here's the thing: leaving your door open, both literally and figuratively, is a total game-changer. When you prop that door open, you're not just letting fresh air in; you're inviting people to get a sneak peek into your world. It's like saying, "Hey, come on in! Let's connect."

Leaving your door open isn't just about physical space. It's a symbol of being open to connection and community. It's like rolling out the welcome mat for spontaneous interactions and life-giving conversations. You never know who might swing by and strike up a conversation that changes your whole perspective or becomes a lifelong friend.

Don't worry—I'm not suggesting you keep your door open 24/7. Privacy is important, and we totally respect that. But every now and then, consider cracking that door and embracing the possibility of unexpected connections. Who knows? You might just stumble upon some amazing moments and form incredible friendships. Trust me, the rewards of being open and accessible to those around you are immeasurable.

One of the first things I noticed at Briercrest in my first year was the community of other believers passionate about their faith. I had experienced this before at camp, but there was a different element at Briercrest. I believe it was the community that happened for eight months at a time here at Briercrest. Walking alongside each other in life created a beautiful atmosphere that ultimately strengthened my faith. What is Community at Briercrest Really Like?

Eat your meals with others.

Another way to create community is to eat meals with other people. I know it might seem simple, but trust me, it can do wonders for creating a sense of community. Here's why:

Eating in the dining hall is about satisfying your hunger and finding a sense of belonging. Throughout history, people have gathered around food to deepen their connections. Just think about Jesus's disciples breaking bread together. Sharing a meal with your campus community is a choice that can help you find your tribe and feel a sense of belonging.

So, don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and join others in the dining hall. Sit with a group of classmates, strike up a conversation with someone new, or ask if you can join an open table. You'll be amazed at how these small moments of shared meals can lead to meaningful connections and lifelong friendships.

The table allows us to practice proper communication and open up intentional discussion about the things that we experience on a personal level—we learn to be vulnerable with one another. What We Bring to the Table: Finding Community in the Cafeteria 

Keep your space tidy.

Alright, let's talk about keeping your space tidy. I know it might sound like a mundane task, but trust me, it can make a world of difference. Here's the deal: your external surroundings have a sneaky way of influencing your internal state.

Assignments piling up, navigating communal living, and juggling college life are enough to make anyone's head spin, but when your physical space is cluttered and chaotic, it can intensify the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions inside you.

Tidying up your room can surprisingly impact your inner chaos in a positive way. It's like creating a little oasis of calm amidst the storm. When you take the time to put away the clutter and organize your space, you'll be amazed at how it can bring a sense of peace and clarity to your mind.

It's not just about clearing physical mess; it's about creating an environment that supports your well-being. When your surroundings are clean and organized, it can help calm any personal concerns that may already be weighing on you. It's almost like a breath of fresh air for your mental state.

Now, I'm not saying you need to have a Pinterest-worthy room or become a minimalist guru. Just find a system that works for you and keep things tidy in a way that feels manageable. Maybe it's dedicating a few minutes daily to declutter or setting aside specific times for deep cleaning. The important thing is to create a space that nurtures your peace of mind.

Organize your syllabus items.

Syllabi are overwhelming! Trust me, I know how it feels. The sheer number of assignments, readings, and deadlines can make your head spin. But fear not because there's a simple solution: marking syllabus items on a calendar.

Now, there are a couple of ways you can approach this:

  • Some students find it helpful to copy all their assignments onto a physical calendar or list the dates in order. There's something satisfying about putting pen to paper and visually seeing your tasks laid out. It can help bring a sense of clarity and organization to the chaos.
  • Here's some good news for all you tech-savvy folks out there: Canvas has a calendar tab that lists all your assignments in one place. It's like having a personal assistant dedicated to keeping you on track. Take advantage of this feature and let it be your guiding light through the semester.

Having all your syllabus items in one place and in chronological order can work wonders. Suddenly, that mountain of work doesn't seem quite as daunting. It lets you think realistically about what needs to be done next and create a game plan for success.

  1. Set goals
  2. Start with the big picture
  3. Identify the 'events' that will require advanced planning
  4. Make a weekly schedule
  5. Find balance

5 Key Time Management Principles for Christian Students


In conclusion, whether you're a freshman embarking on your college journey or a returning student ready for another year of growth, the first few weeks of the semester are vital in setting the tone for the entire year. It's a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, and endless possibilities. By building community, getting yourself organized, and embracing the excitement of this new chapter, you can make the most of your college experience. So go ahead, seize the moment, and create an inspiring and fulfilling year ahead.


Blog adapted from 7 Ways to Make the Most of Your First Weeks at Briercrest by Spencer Meisner.


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