Campus News

SU students express optimism for school year ahead

SU students optimistic for new school year

As fall classes start, students are setting goals and focusing on self-care.

Students walk from Newhouse to and from classes.
Em Burris
The Einhorn Family Walk bustled with students shuffling between classes on Monday, the first day of class for the 2023-24 school year.

The start of a new semester offers students at Syracuse University an opportunity to implement positive changes in their lives and their educational experiences.

In light of new beginnings, SU students from a variety of grade levels and academic disciplines shared insight on personal improvement goals, self-reflections, hopes for campus development and passion projects in the making with The NewsHouse.

New year, new priorities

Compared to previous years, some students are looking for more ways to tune in with themselves and their environment. With self-care on the rise, many college students are focusing on prioritizing their well-being amidst academic demands and busy student schedules.

Students like junior Grace Brashears are prioritizing their mental health after falling behind on mindfulness during previous semesters.

“At the end of last semester, I was over-involved in a lot of stuff and wasn’t putting my mental health first,” Brashears said. “My goals for this year are to put myself and my future at the forefront of my mind.”

Students like sophomore Amlan Pradhan don’t bat an eye when it comes to a rigorous major like computer science, composed of 120 credits. In fact, Pradhan is hoping to add television, radio and film (TRF) classes to his demanding schedule. According to Pradhan, he would double major if he could, simply because he enjoys it.

But his biggest challenge doesn’t take place in a lab or classroom, it’s in his own kitchen. “If I do a meal plan right now, I will never learn how to cook,” Pradhan said. “If I’m cooking by myself, I can track my health better. Last year, I was just eating dining hall food. I’m looking forward to being more healthy.”

Students pose in front of 'first day' balloons outside of the Schine Student Center, on Monday, August 28.
Nicole Hopwood
Two students pose in front of the first-day balloon display outside of Schine Student Center on Monday.

Finding community support

For many students, college is the first time they are on their own. While some have the ability to visit their family and old friends, others find new support systems within their campus community. For example, senior Julianna Tsokanos found support through her best friend and fellow senior, Souky.

“We met each other second semester of sophomore year. Before that, I had other friends, but this is my best friend,” Tsokanos said. “At the end of the day, if anything happens, I know I can have my own back. Just be your own biggest cheerleader.”

Apart from forming meaningful friendships, what was most helpful to Souky was not letting the idea of a finite four years of college be an all-consuming thought. She recommends staying grounded and present while balancing student life.

“Organize your life. Don’t overthink. Just take a little time for yourself and stop thinking about the past and future,” Souky said. “Just be in the moment and realize you’ll be okay.”

Identifying issues

Looking ahead, some students have observed areas of improvement they feel are needed at Syracuse. Some students feel the campus environment could be more welcoming and accessible for all identities.

While working as an orientation leader, Brashears began to learn of student struggles with restrictive parking and accessibility on campus.

“Parking, in general, is really bad. The garages closest to campus are more expensive, which can be financially inaccessible for students,” Brashears said. “Campus needs to be more accessible to all financial statuses and types of students.”

For some students, feelings of isolation on a college campus are not the result of physical obstacles such as parking. As a non-binary individual, Souky noticed a shift in the environment from their home college in the School of Education to the greater SU campus.

“I’m an elementary education major in the School of Education, and I’ve had a great experience,” they said. “But last semester, I was taking regular classes on campus, and I didn’t really feel the same level of acceptance.”

Friends meet up in-between their first classes of the semester, on Monday, August 28.
Nicole Hopwood
Friends meet up in the Schine Student Center Monday on the first day of class.

Finding passion projects

Syracuse students have an array of special interests and dreams, some of which fall within what they’re studying and some that are completely unpredictable. 

Pradhan shared that he recently read the self-help book Atomic Habits by James Clear and he uses the advice that it’s better to improve one percent every day as it all adds up in the end. With this in mind, separate from his major and ideal double major, is the tertiary want of calling himself an author.

“I want to write a book,” Pradhan said. “I still haven’t decided on which topic but I want to make it a fictional piece, because if I started writing about myself, I would probably never finish.”

By working on campus, Brashears hopes to see her passion of being a child life specialist come to fruition in the local area.

“I’m the executive director of OttoThon, which is [SU’s] dance marathon that raises money for the children’s hospitals,” Brashears said. “I think there’s kind of a divide between the university and the surrounding community [so] I really want to make it flourish on campus again.”