My name is Lillian Fenzil, and I “graduated” from the First-Year Exploratory Studies program (FYES) the summer of my first year.
After much experimentation and personal reflection, I am now pursuing a degree in Academic Counseling and Advising through the Custom Design Program with a minor in Psychology.
Here are my top tips for those entering the program:
1. Keep a Positive Attitude!
When you come to Drexel, it may seem like all your peers know what’s going on. They may announce their major with confidence, but don’t act like being undecided is a bad thing! You are exploring the opportunities ahead, and they likely have as much doubt as you do. To overcome this doubt, get involved in FYES events to meet others in the same shoes as you. Attend events and make friends! Eventually, you’ll find people that fit with you, so don’t stress the first impressions.
Don’t feel like you’re falling behind – you're in your first year! And this program is designed to ensure that you can play around with the options that interest you. Use the opportunity to explore rather than committing to one idea. You’ll never know that you don’t like electrical engineering or sociology if you don’t try it!
If there’s a road bump along the way, like a bad grade on a test or a personal conflict, use it as a learning opportunity. As soon as you say you’ve failed something, it prevents you from learning from your mistakes and eventually succeeding. Just trust the process, and all will be well.
2. Put Yourself Out There
Introduce yourself to everyone you meet. You’ll never know where you’ll meet the next Bill Gates or your next supervisor.
By being in FYES, you may not consistently see the same people in each class, like those on set paths do. Don’t let it be a roadblock. Turn to the person you sit next to and try to bond over the class. I’ve made plenty of friends by saying, “Wow, the work in this class is pretty unreasonable, right?” You may even come across upperclassmen who can share their tips and tricks for college and their experiences on why they chose their major.
Become a face that your professors recognize. Attend every class and talk to them. One of the best ways to get on their good side is to ask them about any research they do – usually in the professor bio or their LinkedIn profile. People tend to love talking about what they are passionate about.
Talk with your advisor, and any advisor for a major you may be interested in. They can provide resources and recommendations that you may have never considered. And these will be the faces constantly cheering you on the sideline as you move forward in your college career.
3. Learn What You Don’t Know
College is all about learning. Every person you meet holds wealth's of knowledge in multitudes of different subjects – always keep that in mind and keep an open attitude.
You can’t explore a major if you don’t know it exists. Look at the course catalog and the term master schedule to find classes that intrigue you. Take the widest breadth of classes you can – you may not be able to take the class once you declare. Once you know the ins and outs, you may be able to help someone else in the future.
Drexel also offers plenty of co-curricular activities to help you grow. Attend speaker series and participate in research. Join clubs and rise the ranks to an organization president.
Experience is the best teacher, but how can you learn if you don’t involve yourself in it?