Stomping the Yard

Freshman Memoirs: The Blueprint for Success

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Calling all college students!  Our new weekly column, Stomping the Yard, aims to help undergrads excel in their studies and social lives.’s team of experts will show you how to get it done from the day you move into the dorms to the minute you step off campus for that first job. Submit questions and feedback for The Yard via

This summer, I’m featuring “The Freshman Memoirs” from current college students who want to share with incoming freshmen the experiences and advice they’ve learned in their college careers.

In this week’s edition, William Owens, a rising senior at Jackson State University, shares tips that helped him successfully transition to living and studying in the South.


After graduating high school in Chicago, Illinois and being accepted to Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, I was guaranteed to go through a transitional stage. Upon taking a step on the Gibbs-Green pedestrian walkway, (or “The Plaza” as us Jacksonians refer to it) I knew that I would have to get acclimated to the food, weather, and overall culture of the South.

Throughout this process two questions never seemed to stop running laps in my head: 1) How could I conform to what society here deems normal and/or acceptable? and 2) Where could I find this balance between social life and academics?

Through trial and error, I’ve been able to generate a blueprint that includes four vital points for enjoying college and getting fitted for your cap and gown in no time!

1) Prioritize Your Time. Know that parties will be there throughout the semester, but makeup work and extra credit will not. So complete your assignments on time before you dig yourself in a hole that is too deep to climb out.

2) Build Relationship With Your Professors. I cannot emphasize enough how imperative this can be to your academic success. By maintaining an ideal relationship with your instructor from the beginning of the semester, he or she may return the favor via mentorship and help you boost your academic achievement.

3) Network. This could help you prepare for the future and build your career at a more rapid pace if used effectively. Joining various organizations can greatly increase your networking possibilities and it’s also a great way to meet new people.  Networking with students also helped me get acclimated to Southern culture. I made tons of friends and acquaintances who schooled me on life “down South.”

4) Remain Focused. By following the initial three steps, you are on your way toward having a successful collegiate career, but do not break stride. As a rising senior, I’ve found in my college career that excellence is shown through the consistency of your work ethic, and what you display is what others will see.

To all 2014 incoming freshmen, congratulations in advance for your academic excellence!

About Kelly Fair

Kelly Fair

Kelly Fair is the founder of the highly successful Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program that has served more than 600 girls 7-17 years old to be effective communicators, and career and community conscious leaders! This work has been supported by a network of 300+ volunteers from the Chicagoland community and area businesses such as Bloomingdale’s, Microsoft, ThoughtWorks and many more. You can follow Kelly on her blog and on Twitter at @KFairtheMentor.