The 4-1-1 for freshmen

Your first year in college is a time of freedom and responsibility, which can be extremely daunting at times. Here at Western Carolina University, there is a community of people and resources that can help make the transition into the college life easier.

Move-In Day is not exactly like what you see in the movies with people blasting music and throwing a football in the hallway, but it is one of the best and hectic moments of your college career. Now that you know where you are living, there are some essentials that you will need and be able to find at the local Walmart in Sylva. Tammy Haskett, director of new student orientation, supplied a wonderful list of things to remember.

She stated, “[It] varies by assignments but storage bins, power strips, Ethernet cable, possibly a small printer, locking device for their laptops, command strips, trash cans and if you are in a residence hall with private or shared baths (unlike Scott, Walker or Buchanan with community baths) you will need cleaning supplies to keep your bathrooms clean in addition to cleaning supplies for their rooms like a broom, vacuum cleaner, etc.”

When it comes to living in a dorm where you can possibly share everything from a kitchen to a bathroom, Haskett suggested, “If you make a mess clean it up.”

As for sharing a kitchen, she said, “Even though you may have a kitchen, you are still required to have a meal plan when living on campus. It is suggested if your share a kitchen that you label your food and try to keep as much in your room as possible.”

Haskett also gave amazing advice for living with others; she said, “. . .Put down your computers and cell phones and talk directly to you roommate(s) and set down some ground rules.”

On Saturday, Aug. 17, there will be a freshman assembly and Valley Ballyhoo in the afternoon hours. Be on the look-out for the Week of Welcome events during the first week of classes, including a free concert.

Your second priority after moving in is to collect your rental books from the bookstore. The Bookstore, located beside the University Center, is not just a place to get your books but a place to find anything you have forgotten or need for your classes. They carry many electronics and accessories, notebooks, planners, leisure reading and more.

Haskett stated, “You can pick up your books. You may have supplement texts or other supplies like art supplies or lab instruments you will need to purchase for some of your classes, and [you] can use financial aid to purchase them during [your] first week of classes. Of course, you need your WCU logo items from the Bookstore and Catamount Clothing and Gifts. We don’t want to see any of that other school stuff!”

So, how exactly do you go about renting your books and gathering your supplies?

Christine Fisher, book rental manager, said, “Students can access our website at and from there can click on the ‘WCU Bookstore Home’ link. After they gain access to the site, if you click ‘Textbook Rentals’ then scroll to the bottom and click ‘New Students,’ there is a page that outlines everything new students need to know about the bookstore!”  

According to their website, the bookstore begins issuing book rentals as early as Wednesday, Aug. 14. When you go to rent your books, you need to make sure that you have your CatCard. If you do not have your CatCard, you can get it at OneStop in Killian Annex, which is located next to Forsyth and behind Coulter.

OneStop, like its name suggests, is a place where many things happen. According to their website they host the Financial Aid Office, Registrar’s Office and the Student Accounts Office. Their website is extremely helpful and is user friendly! It can be accessed at

Many students wonder what they are supposed to do when they are sick or need assistance. Student Health Services is a the place to go.

Haskett said, “For on-campus emergencies, they need to dial 828-227-8911 or 828-227-7301. They can go online at to make appointments, they can call 828-227-7640 to talk to someone by phone and after hours, they can call the nurse line at 866-315-8756.”

Arika Morrison, a counselor in Counseling & Psychological Services, said, “Students can access WCU Counseling & Psychological Services in 225 Bird Building during our walk-in process to initiate services, which is available Monday thru Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. If you are unable to come during that time, we can schedule an appointment, if needed. These brief sessions are on a first-come, first-serve basis, and students should plan to arrive early to complete paperwork. Please check out our website [counselingcenter.wcu.ed] or call 828-227-7469 for more information.”

Another great resource for students is the Hunter Library located in the upper part of campus next to Stillwell.

When posed with what the library has to offer for students, Haskett responded, “In addition to the research librarians available to work with them, we have the ABC Express and an interlibrary loan system to request books/articles from other libraries. There are single and group study areas available, Wi-Fi, [and] the Technology Commons is available on the ground floor of the library open the same hours as the library for assistance with computer software/hardware issues.”

Lastly, the Department of Student Community Ethics’s webpage is a great resource for students who are looking to understand the Code of Student Conduct. The department is defined, according to their website, as a department that “. . .Administers the student conduct process for Western Carolina and works to support an honest and responsible community. Student Community Ethics strives to adjudicate cases of alleged misconduct in a fair, responsible and timely manner emphasizing WCU’s core values of respect, trust and integrity.” As well as being used to access the Code of Student Conduct document, their webpage also outlines the Academic Integrity Policy, Student Conduct Process, Party Smart, Leadership Opportunities for Students and Definitions of Sanctions.

Walter Turner, director of Student Community Ethics, said, “We work to saturate the community in the community creed. You may have seen it on posters, key chains or in the dorms. It is a document that we see as an outline of the values we uphold at WCU, such as respect, integrity, pride, community responsibility and engagement. These are things that are not just indicative of our department, but the community; they are values that we hope our students show to the world.”

The Department of Student Community Ethics works to set out the rights, responsibilities and the process that are in place to allow all students to have the best experience at the University. You can contact the Department of Student Community Ethics by phone 828-227-7234. The Code of Student Conduct can be found at

Looking for something to do? Get involved!

Jennifer Cooper, the assistant director of the Center for Service Learning, said, “You can get involved in your new community during the FOCUS Day of Service on Saturday, Aug. 24. First-year students are always welcome to volunteer, but this event is specifically intended for freshmen. There will be a variety of service projects to choose from, and all the logistics are taken care of. Students just need to sign up and show up! Contact the Center for Service Learning at 828-227-7184 for more information.”

There are specific activities that are founded to help freshmen make the transition into the University.

Glenda Hensley,  director of the First Year Program, stated, “Beginning with the Bookmark Journey in their FYE Transition course, students will learn to navigate the University, to find the places they need to know about with services and resources including 15 different campus locations. Our first-year students all have the opportunity to enroll in a FYE Transition course, and these classes are key to their success in the first semester, as they will introduce students to the academic and procedural elements of college, as well as other aspects that will support their successful transition to being a college student.”

But, the help doesn’t stop there.

Hensley continued, “After fifth week, we have WHEE Call U, an initiative in which every single first-year student is contacted personally with a phone call from a member of WCU faculty, staff, administration and student leaders. We are eager to make sure they are settling in well and to offer help, if needed.”

This is not just a first semester occurrence. Hensley said that the Freshmen Year Experience holds emphasis for the entire year.

She stated, “As we look at spring semester, students will have the opportunity to participate in EYE on FYE, a contest that invites their creative entries to address the theme of the year. This year’s theme is Connect the Dots. Then, we host an end-of-year celebration to honor their accomplishments and to also allow them to nominate a special faculty or staff member as their choice for the FYE Advocate award, presented to a faculty or staff member based on nominations/votes from first-year students.”

Your first year in college can be exciting and unnerving at the same time, but WCU works to make it one of the best experiences of your life. If you have any questions or concerns contact the WCU First Year Experience at 828-227-3017.