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Advice from our Peer Mentors

TO OUR INCOMING STUDENTS

The main takeaways are YOU CAN DO IT! Stick with it. Make Connections. Ask for help. Use resources.

Summarized Advice By Topic

See the advice by major for full details.

  • Be optimistic and patient
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask why!
  • Don’t give up
  • Don’t let the magnitude of what you need to do discourage you
  • Don't compare yourself to others!
  • Know when to step back and give yourself some space
  • Motivate yourself
  • Stick with engineering, you belong here even if sometimes you feel like you don’t
  • Do not be afraid to fail
  • Do not give up and failing sometimes is okay as long as you keep trying
  • Failing doesn’t make you any less of an engineer or any less capable of success
  • Fess up to your failures
  • It is okay to struggle while learning and taking classes
  • Put yourself in situations that are daunting to think about
  • You can totally prove your fears wrong with the right persistence
  • Be calm and try to enjoy every lecture
  • Focus studying on understanding the material, not just passing the class
  • Get to know your professors/build strong relationships with your professors
  • Go to class and do your homework
  • Go to office hours
  • Going/form study groups
  • It's okay to feel like you don't understand what's being taught
  • Reach out to your professors!
  • Always seek someone's aid
  • Ask questions and email your professors or advisors for help!
  • It is OKAY to ask for help
  • Communication is important
  • Do what you enjoy and are passionate about
  • Embrace the new responsibilities
  • Find your niche
  • Fortune favors the bold
  • Have a system for how you do things
  • Have fun, but also to be a hard worker
  • Surround yourself with people who encourage you and make you feel comfortable
  • We all have different paths and stories
  • Connect yourselves within the SOE
  • Find an internship
  • Find people who enjoy what you enjoy and try and build a good support system
  • Get involved in extracurricular
  • Get started in the projects that your most interested now
  • Getting involved and enjoying all aspects of university
  • Make close friends and connections
  • Say “yes” to opportunities
  • Take every opportunity you get, but also be realistic
  • Use the resources on campus
  • There are a lot of resources on campus
  • There is plenty helped offered on campus
  • Take things slow and don’t overwhelm yourself
  • There is no time to waste
  • Time management is the key
  • Treat these academic years as a marathon, not a sprint

Advice from our Peer-Mentors by Major

But, we encourage ALL of our students to read ALL of the advice.

  • The most important piece of advice that I could share to an incoming engineering or computer science student is don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t give up. It is not going to be easy but keep pushing through.
  • The most important piece of advice I have is to connect yourselves within the SOE. There are so many opportunities to better yourself and gain funding, jobs, or experience.
  • I think the most important advice I can give anyone joining the department is to treat these academic years as a marathon, not a sprint. I think a lot of people, including myself, can get caught in the many stresses of academic life. Overcoming hurdles and issues day by day and being optimistic and patient will help new students in the long term and make them even more satisfied and happy with their decision as an engineering student. And most importantly, if students need help they should always seek someone's aid. It's crucial not just for them but also for their peers and community because no one wants to see other people suffering and going through hard times.
  • The most important piece of advice I want to share with incoming Engineering and Computer Science students is getting involved and enjoying all aspects of university. Most of my peers are hugely hung up on studying all day every day to keep their grades in tip-top shape. It's easy to become a "zombie student". However, getting involved in clubs and events, like this mentorship program, can lead to finding connections, making friendships, learn leadership skills, find internships, and, most importantly, having fun. It's possible to be a good student and enjoy it! It's all about balance and prioritizing one's life.
  • Learn to motivate yourself everyday and make close friends in the program.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
  • I want to share with them that we all have different paths and stories, just because ours does not look like someone else's does not mean we cannot succeed. I also would encourage them to have fun, but also to be a hard worker.
  • The one thing I wish I took serious is the advice to use the resources on campus, I did not go to may tutors nor did I go to the various resource centers on campus.
  • Join as many things as possible and get to know your teachers and the opportunities they give.
  • Time management is the key to everything while doing everything one step at a time. Always remember that everything that you do will affect the people around you.
  • Communication is the key to every successful career.
  • Find a study group that will want you to succeed as much as you want to succeed. Dont be shy, ask questions and make sure to put in the work. If you slack, it will catch up.
  • Whether it is a question about a course or about research, reach out to your professors! I emailed a prof asking for advice once on some degree questions, and he ended up offering me a paid research position during my freshman year. He said he didn't get a lot of undergraduates reaching out to him and he was impressed that I took the initiative to do so, even if it was just for advice.
  • Overthinking while overwhelmed can be a dangerous game. Please know when to step back and give yourself some space before considering a final decision out of impulse and cool off.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions and email your professors or advisors for help! Hopefully as a mentor I can be of assistance too but there are many resources here at UNM for you to utilize such as CAPS tutoring that you should take advantage of even if you don't feel like you're struggling.
  • I want to advise the incoming STEM students that it is OKAY to ask for help because I quickly learned I could not do engineering on my own and needed to form study groups and go to my professors for help in order to succeed. I also want to advise them to get involved in extra curricular and to find an internship because I know how important this was for me.
  • Don't compare yourself to others! It's so easy to think that only "geniuses" can do it and feel inferior to your peers. That's not true and no matter what level you are or where you start out, you can still accomplish you goals.
  • Don’t let the magnitude of what you need to do discourage you from where you want to be in life.
  • Embrace the new responsibilities you have to deal with and don't be afraid to fail. Failures are the stepping stones to success.
  • It's okay to fail. This isn't high school and what is most important is gaining knowledge in engineering so you can apply it to your job in the future or whatever you want to do. Engineering is about learning not about perfect GPA and employers look for hard workers not 4.0's.
  • Go to class and do your homework. You can't pass a difficult class without doing that. I think it may be equally important to talk to people and make connections. It's a small world, and you never know who's going to be able to get you a job opportunity.
  • Take every opportunity you get, but also be realistic with other people and yourself with how much you can handle. Making connections and gaining experiences is the crux of college. Opportunities come from connections. However, it is okay to say “no” to opportunities that do not represent your future goals. Manage your time, but do not let fear keep you from new experiences.
  • Fortune favors the bold.
  • Do what you enjoy and are passionate about. We spend too much of our lives at work to do something that we do not enjoy. Too many CS students don't really enjoy what they do and they are miserable in this degree and in their careers. So if you do not enjoy it, do not do it. But, if you enjoy it as I do, then it is amazing. The fields are very wide and so explore and find what niche you enjoy the most. Don't be afraid to try new things or internships, because as you try more things, you figure out what you enjoy best, and when you find what you enjoy and you start to do that, work no longer feels like a job, but feels like someone is paying you to play. And that makes life a lot more enjoyable and fulfilling.
  • Find people who enjoy what you enjoy and try and build a good support system. Engineering and Computer Science can be very tough majors and having people to keep you strong through it all is very important.
  • The programming world is a convoluted place that can demoralize even the best of us. But if you can find your niche, whether it be something that you think is cool, or that you're very good at, having that anchor point and a sense of "that's what I want to do" is the easiest way to pave your career here at UNM.
  • The most important piece of advice I would share to incoming students is to put yourself in situations that are daunting to think about. Go talk to your teacher about their research and follow up with an email. Ask questions about work you don't understand. Start your homework right away even if its only for a few minutes and a big task. I hope that students understand that it's ok to be different. Not only is it ok but it is valuable to the whole industry. Different people create different ideas which is absolutely what the CS world needs. 
  • With computer science and engineering it can be frustrating sometimes for a number of reasons, I would say just do not give up and failing sometimes is okay as long as you keep trying.
  • The most important piece of advice I want to share with incoming Engineering and Computer Science students is that it is okay to struggle while learning and taking classes because a lot of times the material that we are learning is new and can be difficult. So I would let them know it is okay to be frustrated and not understand the first time, but just to keep working at it because overtime the new material will make more sense. Also that there are a lot of resources on campus.
  • Always give effort to have good relation with professors and visit them in their office hours.
  • The most important advice that I would offer is that there is no time to waste and that you should get started in the projects that your most interested now as the world is changing fast and its very easy to get left behind and no one else is going to help you but yourself.
  • Don't be afraid to ask why. The most important questions are often left in silence.
  • Be involved with as many organizations as you can manage with your schedule. This would include organizations outside of engineering.it helps school be more exciting.
  • The most important piece of advice I want to share with incoming Engineering students is to say “yes” to opportunities. I stated this similar advice when I was a panelist at the CAELD orientation last Fall. While it is powerful to also know when to say no, the campus community is so large it is hard to know what you like and what will benefit you in the future. If an advisor suggests you should reach out to someone, follow up and reach out. If you want to make more major specific friends, join a student organization in your department or college. It is much easier to decide what is helpful for you after you have already participated in something so you can make your own decision based off of your unique personal experiences.
  • Stick with engineering, you belong here even if sometimes you feel like you don’t. If classes get difficult or unenjoyable don’t give up, because the brain is a muscle that grows through being challenged, and you will find something you enjoy eventually. Engineering is so varied that even within each degree there are career possibilities you’ve never thought of before, and there is something for you.
  • Fess up to your failures. Try not to place blame on your professor, the tests/homework, or other outside influences.  Take ownership of your grades.  This will allow you to catch your flaws early on and better yourself as a student.  Becoming an engineer does not equate becoming perfect.  It means becoming a problem solver. 
  • The single most important piece of advice I would like to share with incoming students is to focus their studying on understanding the material, not just passing the class. Most of the STEM classes build on topics from prior classes and assume that the student understood everything in that class. I would say that this advice applies within any given class as well. Taking your time to review your mistakes and correct them will allow you to truly learn and move forward.
  • Be calm and try to enjoy every lecture. Engineering is beautiful.
  • Don't take 18 credit hours during your first semester (I made that mistake). But actually, I would say to have a system for how you do things. Life is full of so much chaos that it's important to have something in place to organize it all. For example, if you think of something that needs to get done, what do you do? Most likely you'll forget it if you don't write it down somewhere, so where do you write it down? A planner, your calendar, a todo app? Once it's written down how are you going to go about figuring out which tasks you should work on and when? I feel that if you don't have a way to deal with all the information thrown at you it will lead to you just feeling overwhelmed and eventually burning out.
  • Take things slow and don’t overwhelm yourself, college is a lot different from high school and is something that can be extremely enjoyable when you actually let yourself enjoy it. Don’t stress if you realize what you wanted to do isn’t really what you want, it’s okay to change your major and find what you really love to do, the most important thing is that you’re having fun in your chosen field and it’s something that you truly enjoy doing.
  • Do not be afraid to fail, you’re here to learn and you sometimes need to fail to learn. Some people here already know what you want to learn, that doesn’t make you any less of an engineer or any less capable of success. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and make you feel comfortable, not just people you sit next to in class.
  • Confidence is a learned trait that can be attained through practicing what scares you most. I am not sure if this is something that most engineering and computer science students struggle with, but it is something that played a major role in my Freshman year. I still live with the idea that I may not fit the "mold" or have the "mindset" of an aspiring engineer. What I have learned is that you can totally prove your fears wrong with the right persistence.
  • Going to the office hours of professors.
  • There is plenty helped offered on campus, as well as in other areas, if help is needed.
  • It's okay to feel like you don't understand what's being taught.