Published: Jan. 12, 2021

Whether you are returning for the spring or you are just beginning your journey at CU Boulder, I am happy to welcome you to a new semester!

Starting a new year, and new semester, gives us the opportunity to look back and reflect on the past and consider our goals for the future. I won’t lie, last year was rough. Our lives changed in so many ways in a short amount of time. However, we have learned how to adapt and move forward. 

As we begin the new semester today, I have some advice for you to start out strong. 

JB BanksWorking through challenges

While there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, we will continue to learn, live and work in a pandemic for the foreseeable future. Despite this, you will still receive a world class education at this university. You will still have many opportunities to meet new friends and get involved with fellow Buffs through student organizations, events and other activities.

The beginning of this semester may not be what you envisioned, and change is inevitable. I encourage you to remember how challenges can help us learn to be flexible and resilient, and work through them when they arise. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it, whether it’s with your coursework or your mental health. Step outside your comfort zone and attend some virtual events to connect with fellow Buffs and meet new people. Email your professors or visit them during virtual office hours this week to introduce yourself and get to know them. There are many ways to stay connected until we are able to be back on campus together.

Trying something new

One of the best ways to discover new things about yourself is to try new things. This may take some effort, but trying new things can often lead to new interests and hobbies, experiences and even friendships.

Take a virtual cooking class, or find a new hiking trail to try with your roommate. Or think of ways you could shake up your normal routines. For example, if your go-to movie choices are always comedies, try watching a documentary or Academy Award best picture winner. You might be surprised by what you find you enjoy!

Taking care of yourself

Change can bring up many emotions, and it can take time to adjust. With classes starting, you may feel excited, nervous, curious, scared—or a mix of all of these. Whatever you’re feeling right now is normal, and you are not alone. 

I encourage you to make taking care of yourself a priority this semester. Do your best to get enough sleep (7-9 hours each night), eat regular and balanced meals, stay hydrated and find time for physical activity. No matter where you are, I encourage you to keep yourself, your family and your friends healthy and safe by wearing a face covering in public spaces, staying physically distanced from others and washing your hands regularly. Your overall health and well-being play an important role in your academic success.

Staying engaged and using resources

We may be starting the semester remotely this week, but you still have access to support services and help if you need it. Whether you’re looking to get involved, improve your well-being, or figure out what you want to do in the future, the Division of Student Affairs has a variety of resources to support you. 

And if you aren’t sure what you need, I’m here for you. I’ve really enjoyed meeting with students and learning about your experiences so far, and look forward to connecting with you again this semester. I want to know what’s working, what’s not, how you’re managing through uncertainty and how we can best support you. There are a couple opportunities I hope you’ll take advantage of this semester to connect and stay engaged:

  • Join the Dean of Students Leadership and Values Council. This council exists to engage students in a meaningful way and provide the appropriate support, resources and opportunities to thrive. In addition to sharing ideas, counsel and feedback regarding issues that affect the student body, members will also engage in leadership development and mentorship opportunities. Applications are due Feb. 15 - learn more about the Dean of Students Leadership and Values Council.
  • Stop by our Dean of Students Pop-up Office Hours. I’m working to be a “dean on the go” and meet students where they are. These pop-up office hours serve as a way to connect with students and learn about your needs. Stop by to ask questions, connect with our staff and learn about resources; no appointment needed! View our spring hours

Take care of yourselves, and let’s make this semester great! 

JB Banks
Dean of Students and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs