Five tips for making the most of your college experience

Posted by Jessica Edonick on Jul 30, 2015 4:30:00 PM

Jessica Edonick, Dean of Student Services at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, shares five tips for making the most of your college experience.

1. Get to Know your New Community

A young hobbit who would've liked nothing better than to find out what was beyond the borders of the Shire. The world is not in your books and maps. It's out there.

(The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey)

pcad-lancaster-city-fun-2Don’t just focus your attention on PCA&D’s campus, get to know Lancaster as well. When you live in a place, it becomes a small part of you, and living at college gives you a great opportunity to learn both the college and its town. Go out and meet people, taste the local cuisine, and observe a way of life that might be different from home. Here are some ideas to help you get to know your new surroundings.

Learn more about Lancaster at

  • Meet and talk with local people. Whether you’re at a sidewalk cafe, in a shop, or on the street, chatting with locals will give you the biggest dose of culture and make you a few friends along the way. You’ll always learn interesting perspectives about a place from those who live there.
  • Keep track of where you go: sights, areas, cafes, restaurants and anything you would want to remember and recommend. Play the tourist! People come to Lancaster from all over to see the sights, so visiting the touristy places will give you a quick introduction to what adds charm to the city.
  • Hit the streets! Go running or walking all over Lancaster. Not only is the exercise good for you, this will give you the opportunity to get your bearings and take things in. As you go, you can make note of cool coffee shops to try and other places to return to.

2. Participate in Activities

"Working hard is important. But there is something that matters even more, believing in yourself."

(Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

riddle_QuestOne way to make college feel more like home is to participate in activities you enjoy or find clubs that meet your interests. Don't wait! Get involved during your first few weeks at PCA&D. This will allow you to meet friends, be part of a social group, as well as make a difference in the college.

  • PCA&D has many clubs such as Anime Club, Art Challenge Club, Gamerz, PCA&D Players, the Yoga & Meditation Club, and many more. There is certainly a place for you where you can meet other students who share your interests. 
  • Become a member of a professional organization and participate in events that offer you a chance to grow your skills while getting involved. At PCA&D, get involved with American Institute of Graphic Arts Student Chapter (AIGA), PCA&D 24-hour Designathon, The Society of Illustrators Student Chapter, and 24-Hour Comics Day.
  • If you have a strong interest or hobby, and don’t find a corresponding organization, talk to me in the Student Life office. Perhaps I can connect you with others who share that interest, either on or off campus.

3. Challenge yourself and your values

“I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.”

(Finding Nemo)

PICNIC_2015New place. New roommates. New situations. At college and living on your own, everything is new and different. Be open-minded. Expect changes and new situations to happen regularly, and be open to different points of view and perspectives. College is more than learning from your coursework; it’s also a time to learn about yourself and the world.

Your college years are an opportunity to examine your values, discover what you really believe, and gain new insights and perspectives. You’ll be called upon to examine, analyze, question, and challenge situations, issues, and information of all kinds. Kindly share your viewpoints with others and learn to look for alternative ways to approach issues and situations when you are faced with new thoughts and ideas.

4. Meet New People

“My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you."


PCAD_SeniorShow_046You might be in a new and different place, but you're not alone. Strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you in class. Don't stress about forming friendships right away, but enjoy meeting new people. After all, it took a great deal of time to develop your childhood friendships. So, to start, get to know the people around you. Keep it up, and you will not only develop close friends, but know a wide range of interesting people.

You might be sharing an apartment with roommates that you have just met. Remember roommates are not always best friends. Roommates often simply work out mutually satisfying living arrangements, but each may develop his or her own circle of friends.

Some friendships happen quickly but most take time to develop. Enjoy this process of learning more about others and sharing life together.

pcad_PEACOCKS_SOFTBALL_20155. Have Fun!

Have fun stormin’ da castle.

(Princess Bride)

When you graduate from PCA&D, I hope you have accomplished two things: You are prepared for a life in art, as well as have amazing stories to tell of the people you met and the times you have had.

Whether you like to go dancing or go to the movies or play sports, making time for having fun is an important part of keeping yourself from getting too stressed out. Take advantage of free time to meet a diverse group of people, engage in fun times, and make joyful memories. You will find that life at PCA&D can be strenuous, so you will need to set aside time to relax and rest. You are important. Make yourself a priority.

Jessica_Edonick-1Jessica Edonick, Dean of Student Services

Dean Edonick joined PCA&D in June 2015. She earned her Master of Arts in Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan and her Bachelor of Arts in History from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. She has been an instructor and served on a number of campus committees including the On-line Learning Council (co-chair), Multicultural Program Advisory Committee, Sexual and Gender Equality and Student Life Cycle Management—Onboarding Committee.  She is the author of numerous articles and presentations on student life and best practices for academic and student affairs partnerships.Learn how the skills you develop in art school can land you a career after college. Download our free guide..

Topics: PCAD, Art Student

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