Navigating the back to school waters can seem overwhelming – especially for those students who are beginning their first year of college.

New York Institute of Technology Dean for Campus Life Ann Marie Klotz is available for interviews on a variety of student life topics and offers five tips to help students get a strong start to their college and professional careers. The tips are key to helping students feel connected, committed, and engaged.

“Be the historian of your own experience,” says Klotz. “Use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms to put your own information out there about the cool things you’re doing and learning.”

Klotz’s other tips:

• Create a travel plan. If you use public transportation to commute, learn how to navigate buses and subways. What’s the best route and what’s an alternative you can use? Even if you live on campus at a large school, it’s important to understand intra-campus bus routes, timing, and alternative routes to class. Find out where your classes are and determine how you are going to get to them on time.

• Learn how to read a syllabus. “It’s essentially your contract with the classroom,” says Klotz. You need to know what’s expected and to include deadline dates for assignments or tests in your calendar. There may be fewer assignments that are weighted more heavily, so understanding the dynamics is important.”

• Get involved with clubs and organizations during the first two weeks. Learn about Greek life, student government, and volunteer organizations. Resident Assistants and orientation leaders can provide helpful suggestions. “Many students report that clubs and organizations are their family away from home,” says Klotz.

• Meet with an academic advisor to plan out your major. While it may seem early, it’s important for first-year students to learn how they’ll map out their courses to complete a major on time.

Klotz says students should “chart their own course and create a legacy” throughout their college years, and she suggests three questions students should ask themselves: “What do you want to leave, what do you want to create and who will be the people who help you?”

Klotz is the Dean for Campus Life and Chief Student Affairs Officer on the Manhattan campus of the New York Institute of Technology. Previously, she spent 14 years working in Housing and Residence Life at Oregon State University, DePaul University, Ball State University and Albion College. She earned her B.A. from Grand Valley State University (Political Science) and M.A.’s from Michigan State University (Student Affairs) and DePaul University (Women and Gender Studies) respectively. She recently earned her doctorate in the spring of 2014 from DePaul University where she studied the career trajectories and leadership styles of ten female university presidents. She is the current National Co-Chair for the Women in Student Affairs (WISA) Knowledge Community for NASPA and is the recent recipient of the 2014 ACPA Standing Committee for Women Research and Scholarship Award. Personal and research interests include women’s career development, professional staff recruitment, developing on-line communities, personal branding, and first generation college students. She blogs at