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Library tips for incoming students:
Be proactive and self-directed

By August 9, 2022September 16th, 2023No Comments

By Allison Campbell-Jensen

“What are you concerned about?” Lacie McMillin asked the group: “Talk among yourselves.”

Conversation erupted in the Bruininks Hall classroom. “Algebra” was heard above the animated chatter of 50-some incoming freshmen and their family members. The air also was pierced by a plaintive: “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

Asked to come together and share some of their concerns with others in the room, these incoming students and their family members told McMillin, Student Experience, Learning, & Outreach Librarian: “We’re concerned about having to manage our own time. [Unlike high school,] we’ll be doing our homework outside of class instead of in class.”

A commuter student wondered about making friends. Another student piped up with a significant worry: “Getting to class on time.”

“Set several alarms in the morning,” McMillin advised. “Whatever it takes!”

Family members were focused first on safety and secondarily on time management. After all, many of them have been rousing their reluctant teens from bed to make it to school on time, sometimes for years.

Tips for success

Want to succeed? McMillin said: “We have tips!”

  • Be proactive — don’t wait for a crisis to happen
  • Be self-directed and seek out help when you need it; and
  • Engage with each other

“You’ll learn a lot from your peers,” McMillin said.

She asked them to memorize one resource: Then she led the group in saying the URL out loud — but many of the future Gophers were slumped, seemingly ready to head back into their tunnels, and mumbled the website address. McMillin scolded them, lightly: “Are you even excited to be here?”

“Yes!” shouted a small group of boisterous young men with sparking smiles. McMillin also asked everyone to check out the Libraries’ website,, as a great resource for research.

Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence a go-to for help

Then Jen Thonedara, Assistant Director of the SMART Learning Commons in Magrath Library, introduced the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE, pronounced “MK”). She assured them it is a great place to begin to build community, a place to belong within this large U campus community. It’s also a go-to spot for help with classwork, including tutoring in tough topics like physics and chemistry.

She pointed out the Student Academic Success Services website. Then she posed three scenarios in which a student might seek help. One of the students, in describing his path to get help, said: “First, I will go to . . ..”

He’s off to a fine start — as are all the students taking advantage of orientation activities as they strive to make the transition from high schoolers to University of Minnesota undergraduates, with the help of Libraries’ staff and others.

Go, Gophers! And do stop by the Libraries, either in person or online.


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