Megan Tolias at William Woods

My First Month at William Woods University: A Freshman Story

I had a pretty non-traditional introduction to William Woods: I came to visit because my friend was interested in the communications major and dragged me along.

When I got here, I loved it. Being on campus just felt right. It was a very hot day in June, so of course we were sweating. But something about the campus made it seem like home.

I can’t believe I’ve been at William Woods for an entire month already! But I’ve already done and learned so much. And I wanted to share some of that with you. Here are some tips I’ve picked up so far:


  1. Chicken Finger Friday is the best day of the week


    When I get out of my Basic Algebra math class on Fridays, I run back to my room at the Smith, Allen, Swearingen Complex (aka SAS, where all the freshmen live). Then my roommate and I leave for Tucker.

    As soon as you get to the door of the dining hall, you can smell the sweet aroma of chicken. The best part is when they bring a new tray out right in front of you, making your mouth water. It tastes delicious and is my favorite meal every week!

    But be careful: if you get there too late, all the good chicken will be gone and it’s crunchy chicken for you.


  2. If you don’t have time to go to Tucker, the Owl’s Nest is also a great place to eat

    The Owl’s Nest (a cafe/convenience store in the student center) is best for lunches and snacks during the week. AND for the people who can’t go without their Starbucks. They have a wide array of sandwiches, pizzas, soups, chips, salads, pop, coffee, etc., and you use your student ID to purchase items.

    A few weeks into the semester I learned about something called a meal exchange. I have the 19-meal plan, and with that plan, you get $50 in meal exchange to use at the Owl’s Nest — which you or your parents can refill at any time.


  3. Freshman Advantage is great preparation for starting college

    William Woods offers something called Freshman Advantage — a three-week program the summer before freshman year to help you get used to being in college.

    My Freshman Advantage friends
    My Freshman Advantage friends

    It was a great experience for me. It helped me learn the campus and meet new people. Plus, I earned seven credit hours.

    The program definitely keeps you busy! You learn a semester’s worth of information in fifteen days, with lots of tests and homework. And there are activities every night and weekend. But it was a fun way to prepare for college and meet new friends.


  4. Choose your schedule carefully

    It’s important to go to all of your classes. It may be difficult to get up in the morning, but you’re paying money to be here, so go. Some professors also grade on attendance.

    I wanted to have afternoons free, so I signed for all morning classes. It’s great to get them out of the way. I use the rest of my time to work on my homework, study, and to hang out with my friends.

    It may seem hard to have a social life when you have all of these classes to go to and homework to do, but if you schedule your time right, you won’t have as hard a time as you think you will your first year.


  5. The mailboxes can be hard to open

    One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced has been the mailboxes. They can be difficult to open — mine sticks. (Sometimes the little things can be the most annoying!)

    I always have to ask for help from the mail staff. Luckily, they’re really kind. They just ask that you to try opening your box a few times first before going to them.

    I was so excited earlier this week because I was finally able to open the box myself. I still have trouble sometimes because it sticks and I have to pry it open, but practice makes perfect.


  6. LEAD is easy (so far!)

    Cheering on the team

    I thought doing the LEAD program would be hard. But one-month in and I already have 19 points (you need 22 points your first semester). Granted, it’s easier for freshmen because we can earn lots of extra points by going to orientation events. But stay organized and you should be fine.

    My favorite LEAD events are the International Film Series — they play movies from all over the world. I enjoying seeing the culture and they’re a great learning experience.

    If you’re worried about losing your $5,000 scholarship, don’t be. There are so many opportunities to get points. For example, going and watching a sports game is a great thing to do with friends and it’s important to support the teams. #owlpride


  7. Greek life is fun, but it’s not for everybody

    I went through sorority recruitment my first week, but I didn’t end up joining one. All of the girls are incredibly nice, but I knew it wasn’t right for me.

    However, it’s an experience I would encourage anybody to try. I was able to meet so many great people and learn about the many philanthropies they’re involved with. I’m an introvert, so the process got me out talking to people I would have never met before. It also helped my confidence.

    One piece of advice: Be yourself through recruitment — they want to get to know the “real” you. And you want to find the right place for you. Enjoy and embrace everything you learn from it. (Check out more info about Greek life at William Woods.)

    But know that you’ll still meet plenty of great people if you decide not to join a fraternity or sorority.


  8. It’s easy to get involved on campus

    It’s club fair time



    I went to the club fair at the beginning of the semester and there are many activities out there for students. (William Woods has over 40 clubs!)

    Out of all the groups I joined, I have the most fun in the Quidditch club. (Quidditch is the sport from Harry Potter, combining soccer, dodgeball, and volleyball.) I love how my nerdy side comes out when I play Quidditch, and I really like being with this group of people.

    If you’re worried about not fitting in at William Woods, don’t let that scare you! Just join some clubs and you’ll meet lots of different people.


  9. Lulu’s is one of the best places to go with friends


    This ice cream and frozen yogurt shop is in the Brick District of Fulton, not far from campus. And it’s incredible!

    My friends and I have random breaks to go there. I suggest getting the ice cream sandwich flavor and topping it with everything!


  10. Ask your advisor to help you make a four-year plan

    You can work with your academic advisor to figure out what classes you should take while you’re here. Having a master plan helps you decide when to take certain classes and if you should take summer ones. It’s something every freshman should do.


  11. Ask questions

    People love questions. Don’t act tough and like you know everything. I know for a fact I didn’t know everything and that I’m not a vocal person. Ask questions — from professors, staff, advisors, upperclassmen, etc. It’s better than being wrong.


  12. The roommate situation can be scary, but it all works out

    Lauren and me

    A lot of people I know were worried about having a roommate when they got to college. You hear some horror stories. But I lucked out. I met my roommate, Lauren, during Freshman Advantage and she’s goofy and silly, and we get along great.

    You find out who your roommate will be when the university sends out an email in early July. Talk to them ahead of time and connect with them on social media (aka Facebook stalk them), so you get to know each other a bit.

    During the first few weeks of school, your Community Advisor (hall advisor) gives you a roommate agreement. It has a list of questions to review with your roommate, to make sure you’re on the same page (sharing food, quiet time, etc.). It helps to figure out what you both think about different things. And if you run into future problems, you can use this agreement to work it out.


  13. Print out your syllabi

    A tip I picked up during Freshman Advantage: print out the syllabi for all of your classes and look at them every day. Your professors may not remind you when you have homework or a paper due — it’s up to you.


  14. Oh, those geese

    So many geese!

    Let me tell you about the geese here…they’re beautiful to look at, but they’re everywhere.

    I believe geese are angry in the morning. I don’t know how many times they “Yell” at me as I walk to breakfast. But they won’t come near you, so don’t be scared. The squirrels will come up pretty close to you though.


  15. Don’t overschedule yourself

    This will be hard on you. In high school, I had two jobs, took eight high school classes and five college ones, and played in my school band. And I was busy! But that helped me learn time management.

    While at college, enjoy your time, sleep in when you can, join clubs, get ahead on assignments, hang out with friends, and make new ones. But don’t push yourself so hard that you crash and burn out your first semester. Make sure you have time for yourself.


I live three hours from Fulton at the very top of Missouri in the hunting capital. Coming to William Woods from a small town (my graduating class size was 53), has been hard. I definitely had a little bit of anxiety on move-in day. But college has been a great experience so far. And I’m excited that I have four more years of it! (Minus one month of course.)