LLCs, PAs, preceptors, oh my!

Brianna Harrington | Business Editor | @bnharrington

This is your first year in a place completely unfamiliar to you. Maybe it does not seem so now, but this year may determine the rest of your time here. Entering into a new place can be intimidating, but it is important to make the most of what is offered to you.

One very important, crucial aspect of a successful first year is the Living Learning Communities (LLC). These are meant to build a community by placing you together in the same residential halls and classes as your peers within the same LLC.

Meagan Sherrington, a junior and preceptorial assistant (PA), talks about the many opportunities offered by LLCs.

“Because of my LLC, I can say I swam with sharks, sailed a world-renowned sailboat in the bay, fostered genuine friendships with some of the most goofy, intelligent, and diverse people I could have imagined, and gained a knowledge and respect for the various aspects of the larger San Diego community,” Sherrington said. “Honestly, I am not sure how or if I would have ever done all of that on my own.”

Within your LLC, you will be assigned a preceptor and a PA. Your preceptor serves as your advisor throughout the year and is there to help you in any academic or personal matters.

Professor Halina Duraj, a preceptor for the Sustainability LLC, explained how the student-professor relationship goes beyond the classroom.

“The most important thing I do as a preceptor, after teaching the course and providing advising, is making myself available as a listener,” Duraj said. “Each week in the Fall, I spend far more hours in one-on-one time with first-year students during office hours than I do in class; it takes time to adjust to the social and even physical landscape of University of San Diego, and many students just need to talk about it: their homesickness, their fears, their doubts.”

It can be intimidating talking to your professors, but it will help in the long run. These interactions with your professors help build relationships and connections that can aid you in your courses.

Duraj offered some advice in getting over the intimidation.

“I was very intimidated when I was in college, and I never went to office hours,” Duraj said. “I regret that! Rather than thinking of professors as experts in their field, it may help students to think of us as people who are passionate about something, and we love it when students visit us in office hours! Talking and listening to students, in class or in office hours, is one of the best parts of being a professor.”

PAs are meant to be peer mentors. They help bridge the gap between professor and student and are there to help navigate the tricky waters of being an independent college student. PAs are there to help advise you, figure out study schedules, or simply provide encouragement.

Sherrington gives advice on how to make your first year your best year.

“Ask questions to other first year students, to your professors in class and in office hours, to upperclassmen, and any other people you might come across,” Sherrington said. “This will not only further you academically, but has potential to lead to so much more, and foster a great environment all around you!”

Austin Lords, a junior and PA, gives tips to make your freshman year count.

“Get the smallest meal plan!” Lords said. “95 percent of my friends didn’t use their whole plan. If you aren’t a morning person, don’t sign up for an 8 a.m. class. Make sure you research your professors on Rate my Professor before registration. And get involved! Just ease into it: don’t join 10 clubs the first week.”

Despite all the tips and tricks out there, sometimes you have to figure out your first year for yourself.

“In all honesty, I think freshmen need to figure it out for themselves,” Lords said, “That’s half the fun of freshmen year!”’

Following this advice will not guarantee a successful year, but it is the first step to ensuring you have a fun one.