A Liberty Survival Guide for Freshmen

Using CASAS to get acquainted with student life, by John Vence

Though plenty of students can feel utterly alone in laying the groundwork for a future career, the College of Applied Studies and Academic Success (CASAS) begs to differ.

“Most students didn’t graduate with a class of 4,000, and that can be overwhelming,” CASAS Dean Brian Yates said. “We look at [CASAS] as a way to get you a good start with advising, and to connect with you, as a new student.”

Yates oversees a program with a myriad of resources that can benefit incoming students from which they can benefit. Students can receive tutoring from the Math Emporium or Academic Success Center, while CASAS’ Mentoring 101 gives valuable insight on everything from getting along with roommates to navigating the campus. Professional advisors for both   undecided and decided students can help set up the next four years and mitigate common struggles students might have in choosing a major.

More than 300 students enter their first semester undeclared, according to Yates. Some even choose a major for the sole reason of appeasing their parents.

“Some students disclose at some point that it was what their mom or dad wanted them to do, and their heart isn’t really into it,” Associate Dean of CASAS Nine Shenkle said. “We can help with that.”

Director of Residential Advising David Hart said that CASAS can guide freshmen into choosing their career path with help from the advisors, who can help comb through students’ various interests to hone in on a specific vocation. Alternatively, CASAS offers the interdisciplinary program for students who are torn between various majors.

“Students can create their own degree with different areas of specializations,” Hart said.  “That’s something I think a lot of students wish they knew about earlier in their career and a lot of students might have chosen that.”

And to Hart, that is an unfortunately recurring regret of upperclassmen: they simply did not know enough.

“You may not think about it, but four years go quick,” Hart said. “You’re a freshman today and a senior tomorrow. So we want to make sure you’re equipped with a lot of resources. The earlier you start [with CASAS], it takes some of that stress away.”

For more information on CASAS and the resources available for students, visit www.liberty.edu/CASAS, or visit their office in person at DeMoss Hall 1100.

What Freshmen should know about CSER, by Rachel Estes

Liberty’s Christian Service requirement (CSER) began decades ago, when Liberty was originally founded as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971. Through the years and all the changes that have accompanied them, CSER has remained an integral part of students’ education and spiritual development.

As Liberty expanded as an institution, CSER grew with it through the work of Weider and his staff. Service opportunities broadened beyond church contexts to infiltrate into the community.

Today, Liberty students volunteer with more than 3,000 different organizations, churches, schools and non-profits, in addition to the service opportunities around campus.

“We’re making it easier and easier for new students who don’t know Liberty culture to learn about CSER and get involved,” LU Serve Associate Director Tim Yonts said.

So, how does CSER work?

“Undergraduate students must complete one CSER for every full-time semester, up to a maximum of eight semesters,” Weider said.

One CSER credit is a minimum of 20 hours of service for the semester. Students can double up on their CSER hours if they’ve fallen behind or want to work ahead, though 40 hours (or the equivalent of two CSER credits) is the maximum amount a student can complete in one semester.

Students can also choose to partner with an organization or network that is relevant to their field of study to complete their CSER hours — in fact, Yonts encourages it.

“(Students) can incorporate CSER into their professional development,” Yonts said. “That’s going to help the most in integrating your biblical worldview and your education into what it means to serve the community.”

CSER opportunities abound during breaks, too, and are not limited to the Lynchburg area.

“You can serve during the winter break, you can serve during the summer break, and you can serve at your local church or a non-profit in your hometown,” Yonts said. “You can build those networks of service wherever you’re from or, perhaps, wherever you’re going once you’re finished.”

According to Yonts, it is never too early for students to get involved with CSER. There is room for flexibility and a structure that works for them, whether it be during breaks or doubling to 40 hours one semester.

According to Cassie Marroquin, associate director of LU Serve Local Engagement, this is the heart and mission of Christian Service at Liberty University.

“It’s not just something they have to get done, but it’s something they can walk away from and say, ‘I learned, I was able to give back and I was able to grow,’” Marroquin said. “When a student realizes that, as an individual, they can effect change, that’s an empowering, maturing and humbling thing. We view CSER as a way for students to have those experiences.”

An extended list of service opportunities is available on the LU Serve webpage at http://www.liberty.edu/osd/luserve/.

LU Serve staff are available to answer questions about CSER registration at (434) 582-2325, luserve@liberty.edu and the offices in Dorm 20.

How to avoid the “Freshman 15”, by Cassie Conley

As a new semester begins, Liberty University is taking initiative to ensure healthy eating habits in freshman students through healthy food options and educational programs.

Liberty Dining, run by Sodexo, offers a mindful program that allows students to pick food options that have nutritious value. The mindful program is denoted by a bright green apple in residential dining halls.

Rachel Sanders, a registered dietician, creates nutrition programming throughout the semester at all dining locations on campus. Sanders said these mindful food options are easy to use because the food is already chosen.

“Although there are many healthy options, there are a lot of other options too,” Sanders said. “We are telling the consumer that this (mindful food program) is a healthy option based off of nutrition criteria for calories, total fat, saturated fat, sodium and fiber.”

For new students on campus, Sanders said it can be overwhelming coming to a large campus with numerous dining options. However, the key to avoiding weight gain is self-control.

“Never before have you had so many options all the time, right at your fingertips,” Sanders said. “Here you can eat french fries and hamburgers or pizza every single day of the week. It’s just about realizing that nutrition is an important aspect of health and personally making the right decision.”

Along with making healthy decisions, students can take advantage of the indoor and outdoor recreation centers to stay active during the semester. LaHaye Recreation and Fitness Center offers group exercise classes and training for students to stay motivated during their time at Liberty.

Bethany Williams, assistant director of Health and Wellness, said it is important for students to form healthy eating habits early in their college careers.

“I think the earlier you can know about the healthier options, the more likely it is to set you up for success,” Williams said. “If you know about them in the beginning, you can start to choose them in the beginning.”

Liberty will be launching a pure education program in spring 2018 and will continue into the fall semester. This program will teach incoming and current students how to begin and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Students can sign up to be a part of this group through announcements on their splash page.

How Freshmen can best utilize Liberty’s Career Center, by Elizabeth Lapp

The Liberty Career Center offers a variety of resources for helping graduates land jobs. However, there are also a large number of resources for underclassmen to help in the process of deciding on a future career field and major, one of which is the ability to meet with a career counselor for their major.

Debra Saucier is the Lead Career Counselor and has spent years helping students to narrow down their interests and turn hobbies and passions into a career. One of the ways she does this is through the use of the FOCUS2 assessment.

“The FOCUS2 is an assessment of the person’s values and personality,” Saucier said. “It combines these categories of information about you based on the questions they ask and the information that is given to give you a list of options grouping those strengths together.”

These groupings reveal different career fields that may interest a particular student and can help a student when selecting a field of study.

Once a major has been selected, Assistant Director of the Career Center Mark Hager recommends getting involved in research projects and clubs on campus as a way to further explore that area of interest.

“On-campus clubs and research projects are a good way to explore your area of interest and gain some experience,” Hager said. “If you get into the nitty gritty of the class and decide this is not for me, the benefit is that it is better to identify that early rather than in your senior year.”

Saucier has found that one of the biggest mistakes students make is waiting until their senior year to make an appointment with their Career Counselor.

“Even if students feel they have a very direct path and are very content in their major, they never know what opportunities we might have been able to help facilitate,” Saucier said. “They really missed out on a couple of great years of professional development and it’s sometimes hard to catch back up in the last semester.”

Seniors’ advice for Freshmen, by Hayden Robertson          

Abigail Griffith, a senior in the School of Communication and Digital Content has seen a great deal of Liberty in her four years here.  While she wants everyone to enjoy their time at Liberty, she also advises that students spend time to figure out what their end goals in life are.

“Figure out what you are passionate about and work really hard to learn everything you can about what it is you’re passionate about and what it is you would want to do with your life,” Griffith said.  “It doesn’t matter what your parents tell you to do; it doesn’t matter what your professors tell you what you can and can’t do.  At the end of the day, you will be the one doing the job.  Be passionate about it.”

Griffith said that some students get too wrapped up in what other people want them to do. Griffith urges new students to stick to what they are passionate about.

“I see students choosing these careers based off of money or what their parents did, and I just don’t like that,” Griffith said.  “Do not waste time on things that you aren’t passionate about.  At the end of the day, if you go to bed dreading work the next morning, you chose the wrong career.”

Sydni Perkins, a senior in the School of Education, said following dreams and the will of God is what is most important when choosing a major and career path. She recalled how teaching has always and doing her student teaching back home in the Tidewater area of Virginia.

“I have loved being in the classroom.” Perkins said.  “When I did my first practicum and first substitute job, the main question I got asked was why I chose to be a teacher.  I finally have my answer and it is to inspire other kids to want to teach and give back to future students.”

Perkins said she has always loved children and being around them.  She said she thinks that the best way to help Freshmen find what they want to study is by inspiring them with why she chose her career path

“When I ask my kids what they want to be one day, I usually get fireman or doctor,” Perkins said.  “I never heard the word ‘teacher’ until this year.  One of my students told me that because she loved me and loved watching me teach, she said she wanted to become a teacher too to love on children and teach them as well.  That’s why I do what I do.”

Picking a major and a career path can be scary, but it is okay to change majors or exploring a new career path if the current one is no longer satisfying. Freshmen should do what they are passionate about, and should have a desire to inspire others to do what you do.

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