First-Year Experience

Going to college can be scary and we want to help make it easier. Check out this page for advice, academic support groups, and so much more!

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First-Year Overview:

What to expect: Honestly, anything and everything. In your first year you’ll be learning a lot academically and socially, you’ll be really busy AND in charge of your own schedule. The first year can feel like a whirlwind, but you’ll become a part of your House community and the entire Graceland family is here to support you.

First-Year Seminar a.k.a. Critical Thinking: Students who enter college for the first time will be enrolled in a first-year seminar course (also known as “Critical Thinking”) during their first semester. This class is designed to provide a common academic experience for all first-year students so everyone has an equal opportunity for success in college.

The Peer Mentor Program: Building Learning Communities: Each critical thinking class will be assigned a peer mentor. The peer mentor is typically a sophomore student who will be available to help first-year students transition into college life. So, make sure you take the time to get to know your peer mentor!

What's Move-In day like?

Nothing like you're ever experienced before...

You arrive on campus with your whole life packed up and ready to start the next part of your journey. Most colleges leave you to check in and move all by yourself. But at Graceland, you'll be met with by a swarm of your house council members ready and eager to help you move in. Watch as your stuff is completely unloaded and moved into your room before your very eyes.
After your things are fully moved in, you get time to set up your room Your House President will welcome you to your room and then you get a chance to unpack and settle in. If you need anything, help is sure to be near by!
Then get ready for Welcome Week! All new students will participate in welcome week which includes opportunities to meet new students, your student government officers, and receive tips on how to thrive at Graceland.
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How to dress for an Iowa winter...

A midwest winter is no joke, Graceland has students from all over the world and often they are unprepared on how to properly dress in the winter season. Here are some recommendations:

  • Dress in layers – Layers will always beat insulation. A large parka alone may work really well for your ski trip, but Iowa wind will immediately cut through and freeze you from the inside out. When the temperature is below 20ºF, there should be no time you’re wearing less than two layers.
  • Cover your head, hands, and feet – It’s not uncommon for there to be an entire month where the temperature never rises above 0ºF. Gloves, warm socks, and hats are a necessity for a midwest winter.
  • Invest in warm waterproof shoes – If there’s more than 2 inches of snow regular sneakers won’t make the cut. Try to find tall waterproof winter boots to protect your feet. Keeping your feet warm can quickly heat up the rest of your body and are key to staying comfortable.

Tips on living in community:

Transitioning to college can be an exciting time, people from all different background come together to live in community. However, for some of you this may be your first time sharing a living space and there’s a lot to keep in mind.

Check out these helpful tips for maintaining respectful community etiquette:

While Graceland will be your “home” for the next four years, there may be different community living guidelines than you’re used to. It is important that you are aware of how your actions and habits could impact those that you share a living space with.

Taking care of shared spaces is a key part of community living. This includes but is not limited to; cleaning up messes in common spaces like the bathroom, not interfering with other students’ things when left out, keeping track of your load of laundry so you don’t leave others waiting for the washer or dryer, and much more.

On move-in day your house will gather together to discuss your residence hall’s specific community guidelines and every resident will sign a contract agreeing to those standards. As long as you follow the agreed upon guidelines, living in community will be no problem!

Learn More About Our Housing System

Maybe you have shared a room your entire life or maybe you’ve never had a roommate. Either way, here are some tips on how to be the roommate of the year and maintain a healthy living environment for you and your roommate:

 

  • Take your roommate contract seriously. The roommate contract is a set of guidelines that you and your roommate agree to in the beginning of the year. It’s tempting to just shrug it off, but if you’re struggling with your roommate later in the year this will be the foundation of your conflict resolution.
  • Respect each other’s privacy. Living in a dorm means there’s very little privacy. Leave your roommate’s things alone and always ask permission before borrowing their things. Also, consider setting up some time around each other’s schedules for each roommate to have some time alone in the room. Giving yourself a rest from social activity can go a long way.
  • Be respectful with guests. Hanging out with friends is one of the greatest parts of the college experience, but the room is not just your space, it’s also your roommate’s space. If you want a conflict free environment, check-in with your roommate if you want to bring guests to hang out in your room. This small act could save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Here at Graceland we want our students to be successful. Below are a list of helpful resources to help make that transition easier:

Roommate troubles? Contact your house president.

Struggling with mental health? Contact Dee White Eye the campus Professional Personal Counselor or Campus Ministries for support.

Looking for a way to get connected? Check out our clubs and organizations.