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Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929
Published April 24, 2023
If you’re an incoming student — transfer or first year — read on to discover great advice from fellow students and experts.
By Micaela Myers
Attend New Student Days
Held throughout the spring, New Student Days are open to all admitted students. While they’re not mandatory, they’re hugely beneficial and highly recommended.
“At New Student Days, you’re able to learn about housing, discover how to get involved on campus, get an overview on advising, learn about student jobs, visit with someone from scholarships and financial aid, and have your new student ID picture taken,” says Director of Admissions Shelley Dodd.
Attendees will leave registered for at least one class and with a foundation for understanding the registration process.
Associate Director of Admissions Amy Fenolia says: “The biggest thing about New Student Days is that they allow you to come to campus, get a feel for it and start to make connections with the other students. You’ll also learn many of the great resources we have on campus.”
You can choose from five dates throughout the spring (www.uwyo.edu/newstudentday). The website includes a checklist to complete prior to attending. Even if you haven’t made your final choice on where to go to college, this event will help you and your parents learn more about UW.
Associate Director of Admissions Amy Fenolia says that one of the most important things to do before you arrive for your first semester is to continue to check your email, including your spam folder: “We will use email to communicate, whether it’s onboarding activities like the webinars or Saddle Up information or checklist items.”
Students also have a host of advice on what to do before you arrive on campus.
Winter: Cowboy Coach Grant Dillivan says, “If you’re not from a state with cold weather, then you should get some wind-resistant and cold-weather gear.”
“Incoming students should definitely invest in good walking shoes and a good pair of winter boots, as you will be doing a lot of walking all around campus,” adds freshman Trinity Nesser.
Move-in ready: “Your dorm room at first can feel like a hotel, so bring things to decorate it and make it feel more like home,” says Nesser, an elementary education major from North Powder, Ore.
Cowboy Coach Sarah Griner suggests coordinating with your roommate on décor and what you’re bringing. For example, maybe you can share a microwave or TV.
Fellow coach Peyton O’Dougherty recommends following UW’s move-in checklist (www.uwyo.edu/living/housing/move-in/preparing-for-move-in.html) and giving yourself time to find your groove.
Find your classrooms: Cowboy Coach Abigail Fry strongly suggests walking to the locations of all your classes before the first day. Saddle Up provides an opportunity to get this done. This way you’re not harried trying to find the right building or room 10 minutes before class starts.
Build your community: “I wish I had known to get myself out there more freshman year,” Cowboy Coach Emily Powell says. “School is very important, but meaningful connections are the reason college becomes fun.”
Luckily, UW is known for its strong community — the reason Nesser chose UW: “The faculty are invested in seeing UW students succeed, and I love how friendly everyone is.”
Senior Toby Covill agrees: “I really love the community. Everyone you meet is super friendly, outgoing and considerate. Everyone looks out for each other.”
Covill, who is from Pinedale, Wyo., and is majoring in biology with a concentration in ecology and evolution (honors and geology minors), recommends making connections early with classmates, as well as mentors and professors (see Building Relationships below). New Student Days and Saddle Up are great places to start forming your community.
Once you’re here, get active outside the classroom. Students who are more involved report higher satisfaction with college and a higher persistence rate. Read our article on experiential learning (add a link) for many ways to get involved on campus while making friends, having fun and preparing for your future.
Give yourself grace: “Being a young adult with a whole world of possibilities is both exciting and terrifying, and you’re going to inevitably make some mistakes. That is OK,” Cowboy Coach Karissa Kiser says. “There will be highs and lows, ups and downs, and you should always expect the unexpected. The most important thing is that you have the resilience and motivation to write your own story, pick yourself up when you fall, and always try your best. If you’re doing that, nothing can stop you from achieving anything you put your mind to.”
Get Ready to Saddle Up
Saddle Up, launched last year, is an immersive college preparation camp for incoming students that brings approximately 1,400 freshmen to campus the week before fall semester starts. Saddle Up will help prepare you for success in college via a low-stakes, week-long course, completed for one credit hour. Through the course, you’ll experience a full semester in one week, including lecture notes, exam preparation, working with Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) and asking for help. Outside the classroom, you’ll be introduced to the academic resources available at UW, as well as Cowboy Coach peer mentoring, health and wellness, and residence life.
“I enjoyed Saddle Up because it helped me meet people within my major who I am still close friends with, and the workload prepared me for my actual classes, which was a relief,” says freshman Trinity Nesser. “I loved how I got to explore campus before the actual semester started, and it was a great way to adjust into the new environment.”
During Saddle Up, you’ll be broken up into “Poke Pack” groups led by Cowboy Coaches, who are trained and experienced UW students.
“I enjoyed the Poke Pack groups a lot because I met some great new people who are my friends today that I otherwise might not have met without the Saddle Up experience,” says first-year exploratory studies student Sean Walker of Sheridan, Wyo. “I also liked the mock class, as it really gave me a feel for what studying, lectures and tests would feel like at the university.” He encourages students to go into Saddle Up with an open mind.
Learn more at www.uwyo.edu/saddle-up.
Just For Parents
Experienced UW parents Sarah Mcleod and Bob Janetka offer the following tips for new parents.
Travel: If you or your student are flying in, you can take a shuttle to or from Denver International Airport or fly into the smaller Laramie Regional Airport. For driving, the Wyoming 511 app provides road condition updates and live webcams.
Could vs. Should: While parents “could” easily get involved with their students’ challenges, ask yourself if you “should.” Some events require quick action, but others should be left for your student to address.
Supportive services: Unexpected events are bound to happen. Keep open communication with your student and know what resources are available to assist.
Cookies and special deliveries: Care packages from home may not fit in students’ mailboxes, but they will receive a slip notifying them about a package, which can be presented at the mail room.
Family Weekend: Family weekend takes place each September and features activities for parents and students along with fun prizes.
Learn more about family support for students and resources at www.uwyo.edu/student-success/family-support.
Consider a Living-Learning Community
A great way to make friends, find support and transition successfully into college is by joining a Living-Learning Community.
“A Living-Learning Community is intended to bring students together on a floor of the residence halls with other students who share an interest, an identity or an academic pursuit,” explains Learning Resource Network (LeaRN) Program Director April Heaney. “Students who are part of a Living-Learning Community and are very involved tend to have a higher satisfaction and persistence in college.”
In addition to living on the same floor, participants also have academic experiences together, whether it’s a formal course or programming from faculty or resident assistants. In all, UW offers nearly 40 Living-Learning Communities based on majors and interests. The university hopes to expand them in the future, and the new residence halls will include spaces specifically for programming. Students can select their top Living-Learning Community choices on their applications and then solidify those decisions during New Student Days with their advisers.
One type of Living-Learning Community is the Freshman Interest Group (FIG), which is faculty led, and the students take courses together. First-year student Trinity Nesser is part of the FIG Surviving the Apocalypse (and College). “Joining the FIG was a great decision because it helped me meet friends,” she says. “It was also nice to have the FIG class my first semester to get me in the college groove. My FIG also did a few social events and activities on our floor.”
As a first-generation student, Nesser says that the FIG helped tremendously in her college transition.
Fellow freshman Lilly Fisher of Alpine, Wyo., is part of the First Generation Living-Learning Community based at UW’s Tobin House.
“Living-Learning Communities are a great way to ease the transition into college life,” she agrees. “There are a lot of activities the Tobin House puts together. We have done a movie night, a study group during finals, pumpkin painting, etc. I was also put in a special class where our final project was to tell our story. I learned a lot about my classmates. These activities are great for social interaction to make friends and also get some fun downtime from classes. It is nice to be around people who have something in common with you.”
Learn more at www.uwyo.edu/figs.
Build Strong Relationships
Everyone knows that friends are important, but strong relationships with your professors, advisers and other personnel are also key to making the most of college and will set you up well for building strong relationships once you enter your career.
“Start early to meet and talk with future peers and mentors,” suggests senior Toby Covill. “Working with other students — such as in study groups — can be a great help in your classes and allows you the opportunity to make friends. To get the necessary experience and skills for certain degrees, you also need to be working with those people in your field, such as your professors and graduate students.” These relationships can help you find your passion within your chosen field.
Building relationships with faculty is essential to college success, agrees Cowboy Coach Peyton O’Dougherty. “Be sure to remain engaged during class — maybe even sit up front,” she says. “I strongly recommend introducing yourself to your professors within the first week or two of class and communicating any and all issues, obstacles or difficulties that you may encounter throughout the semester. Respect them, and they will respect you — it’s a two-way street.”
Going to your professors’ office hours is a great way to form a relationship with them. Introduce yourself, and even if you don’t have questions or concerns about the class, you can ask them about their research or creative pursuits.
“Building relationships is not only fundamental to your social life but for your future career as well,” says Cowboy Coach Avery O’Brien. “Building relationships with professors and administrators is some of the best networking you can achieve. Many of the faculty here have great connections, and they truly care about your future and want to give you the best opportunities possible. Great relationships make college more enjoyable than it already is.”
Fellow Cowboy Coach Sarah Griner says, “By taking the time to get to know your professors and build a relationship, you are not only setting yourself up for success in their class but also in the future when you need letters of recommendation to get into graduate school or get a job after undergraduate school.”
“One of my biggest tips for fostering these relationships is you get out what you put in,” says coach Abigail Fry. “Don’t expect your adviser to write you a letter of recommendation if they know nothing about you or what you’ve done during your time as their advisee.”
Don’t forget — college is the perfect time to try new things, adds coach Emily Powell. “If you are nervous to go somewhere or try something new by yourself on campus, ask a friend or ask your Cowboy Coach, because they are there to help you have the best college experience possible.”
All About Transfer Success
Approximately 40 percent of UW entering students are transfer students. Many of those students are coming from another university or, more commonly, a Wyoming community college. UW welcomes transfer students with special transfer funding awards and an office dedicated to their success.
“We want our transfer students to know they belong,” says Director of Transfer Relations Wendi Vanlandingham.
The Transfer Success Center at UW offers resources and support to students in the transfer process, working directly with these students and their sending institutions. Students considering transferring to UW can take advantage of the pre-transfer credit evaluation service, which provides an audit of how courses taken at a previous institution will transfer to UW. UW also takes part in an “articulation summit” each fall to help align curriculum with Wyoming’s community colleges to enhance the transition between institutions and the path toward graduation.
Vanlandingham is coordinating with offices across campus to better serve transfer students, including advising, career, mentoring, tutoring, McNair Scholars and student housing.
Transfer students had their own two-day Saddle Up experience in fall 2022, and the event will be growing and evolving in future years. Hear from transfer student Perlene Keller. Learn more about transfer resources at www.uwyo.edu/transfer.
Get the Apps
There’s an app for everything, right? UW utilizes many apps to help connect you with resources, experiences and more. Here are a few to consider downloading.
Penji is how students make free tutoring appointments with UW tutors in dozens of classes in multiple centers across campus.
Nearly all of your UW classes will be on Canvas. On the Canvas app, you can view grades and course content, submit assignments, keep track of coursework with a to-do list and calendar, send and receive messages, post to discussions, watch videos, take quizzes, receive push notifications for new grades and course updates, and much more.
Navigate Student makes it easier by letting you know how and when to get important things done. Meet with your adviser, resolve a problem, view class schedules, create reminders for yourself, find things on campus and more.
Suitable is the platform for UW’s experiential learning program, SOAR. As you build your academic transcript at UW by learning in the classroom, be sure to compile your experiences outside the classroom in your experiential transcript. Give yourself a competitive edge by developing the competencies that employers and graduate schools value in employees and applicants.
UWyo Eats is a simple, super convenient way to order, pay and pick up right from your mobile device. Use the app to browse locations and menus, order from your favorite campus spot, and pay by credit, debit or your Dining Dollars.
TransLoc is UW’s transit app for tracking fixed-route buses live and scheduling on-demand rides.
SafeRide is an on-call public transportation service that operates late nights and weekends to offer free safe rides anywhere in Laramie city limits. Download the UWYO SafeRide app to schedule and view wait and arrival times.
Wild Bunch is the official student section of Wyoming Athletics. Use the official Wild Bunch app to start earning points that can be redeemed at the University Store.
Learn more about these and other apps at www.uwyo.edu/step/apps.html.
Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929