Getting Off to a Great Start

Helpful Advice for New Students from Dr. Chaim Nissel

With hundreds of new undergraduate students arriving on Yeshiva University’s campuses this week for Orientation, YUNews sat down with Dr. Chaim Nissel, YU’s recently-appointed University Dean of Students, to talk about his new role on campus and how incoming students can get off to the best start as they embark on their academic journey at YU.

Q: What is the role of the Dean of Students?

The dean of students oversees student life that occurs outside of the classroom—everything from the dormitories and student health to support services. I’m also happy to meet with any student to find out about their Yeshiva University experience and discuss ways to improve it. How are you adjusting to YU? How are you adjusting to life in New York? I want to hear how you’re doing.

Q: What’s your advice for new students beginning their college careers?

Make thoughtful decisions about how you spend your time to ensure your life is well balanced. It’s easy to get caught up in putting too much time and effort into one area and neglecting others. Try to balance your limudei kodesh [Jewish studies] and limudei chol [secular studies] with extracurricular activities. Participate in our athletic programs. Go to a club event or lecture. Participate in one of the many exciting student-run programs on campus. Get involved and be out there. You will find things that will excite you, you will meet people with whom you share common interests and you will make friends. Students who can put energy into the extracurricular while keeping their academic focus come out with great college experiences.

Q: What should students do if things get difficult?

There are many resources on campus available to support students who are struggling or need extra assistance. This might mean making an appointment at the Writing Center, visiting the Office of Academic Support, talking to someone at the Counseling Center to work out personal or emotional needs, making sure you’re getting support or accommodations from the Disability Services Center, or stopping by the Office of Student Life to strategize an event you’re working on.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, avail yourself of the many programs that are offered throughout the year—like workshops about time management, stress reduction, or test and writing anxiety—to help you overcome these very common college challenges.

If you don’t even know who to ask, email answers@yu.edu. Someone from the Office of Student Life will get back to you within a day to get you connected to the best people suited to deal with your question. Additionally, you can always stop by the Office of Student Life and we will do everything we can to help.

Q: As former director of YU’s Counseling Center, what insight have you brought with you to your position as dean of students?

The Counseling Center has always been a place that puts student needs first and tries to hear and understand the student experience. I think it’s really important for Student Life and all offices which interact with students to do the same thing. Our goal is to bring out the best of and for our students. One of YU’s strengths is that we’re a small institution, we care about each of our students and we have the ability to respond to the needs of individuals as well as the student body as a whole. We’re here to advocate for students. Our mission is to empower students to be successful in all areas of their life. Our services are available to you. You just have to take that first step!

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