As a staff member for the Student and Parent Orientation Program (SPOP) at UCI, a two-day-one-night program, one thing has held true among other lessons:
Small acts go a long way.
As a recent graduate helping incoming freshmen make the transition into college, I can relate to most of them. Many of them aren’t too excited about attending UCI, most have no idea what to expect, and a handful are completely confident in themselves. However, no matter their level of confidence in making the transition, these freshmen are looking for guidance–they’re looking for help although they may not always state it explicitly.
Help comes in many forms ranging from advice for which classes to enroll in, what organizations are on campus, where to go to get a student ID, to just remembering a name.
The little things like remember someone’s name makes all the different in how that person will remember you. You can either be “the guy who forgot my name” or “the girl who remembered my name and my hometown.” Showing that you pay attention to what someone says and does goes a long way in making that person feel comfortable, cared for, and more confident.
During one of the orientation’s I staff, I noticed that one of the freshmen wasn’t enjoying the program very much. I approached her and asked what she thought of the program on a scale of 1-10. She gave it a 6. I took the time to talk to her and hear her out and understand why she wasn’t fond of attending UCI. I kept tabs on her throughout the remainder of the program to see how she was doing. In the end, she rated her experience as an 8 (or 9, I have to double check). In my case, taking some time to check in with someone made her experience that much better.
However, something as simple as saying holding the door for someone, smiling to a random passerby, or asking the cashier how her day was and genuinely taking an interest in what she has to say can be the highlight of that person’s day.
Take the time to notice the small things and do small acts of kindness each day. You never know whose day you’ll make.