With the start of a new academic year we welcome many first time freshmen and transfer students to campus.  I too am new to Knight Nation. UCF is the fifth academic institution to write me a paycheck.  If you include where I went to college as a student, I have experienced being new at seven different academic institutions.  So, I consider myself a bit of an expert at being new.  Some observations:

Being new presents challenges.  When I started at UNLV several years ago, I went from being the “go to guy”—the guy everyone depended on to fix things– to the guy who locked everyone out of the office when his key got stuck in the door.   Here at UCF, I think I broke the email system during my first week.  I still have three email boxes and can’t figure out why. In being new, one can feel helpless.  This problem is compounded by the fact that like most students, I have a great deal of autonomy.  I get to decide what I want to do or not do on any given day.  In other words, I am free to be as helpless as I’d like.  HINT: New people ask lots of questions. It is okay to ask questions, that is how we become less helpless.

Being new also presents opportunities.  The biggest is that you have a chance to reinvent yourself.  Nobody really cares what you were like before you came here.  You have to show people what you can do now. You start with a clean slate and have access to all of UCF’s resources in an effort to become whatever you want to be.  Just make sure that when you leave UCF that you are well on your way to being that person and of value to others.  We newbies all face the same task: to reinvent ourselves in ways that stand out from the crowd and give us the best chance to compete in the world.  In our crowded, hyper-competitive, smart-phoned world, being average just won’t do. By the time you graduate, you need to have a good answer to this question: Why should an employer hire you rather than one of the other 1200 College of Business Administration students who will graduate from UCF this year?  As for me, I need a good answer this question:  What makes UCF business students unique? Why should I come here as a student or hire your students as an employer rather than a graduate from UF, FSU, or some other fine institution?  NOTE: The answer to your question and mine are intertwined, as is our destiny.

And we both have about three to five years to get this done.  After that point, your parents will get tired of paying for your college education and want you to get a better job than you have now.  Similarly, if I haven’t helped to make the UCF experience unique by then, the faculty and administration of UCF will be tired of me and wonder what I was doing with all that free time.   So, we need to get busy.  Time is short.  The world is not waiting for us.  It will not discover our greatness as we idly stand by waiting for good things to come our way.  We need to execute a plan to make it happen.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do have a few parts of the puzzle. I have written on some of these topics before, so for the next five weeks I will be implementing Re-post Wednesday.  In addition to my regular Monday post, each Wednesday starting this week and running for the next five weeks, I will repost updates of prior blog entries that address how to get off to a good start and make the most of your time at UCF.  Let’s transform you and this great institution together.

Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at http://www.bus.ucf.edu/dean. This post appeared on August 21, 2013. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley