How to Adjust and Make the Most of Your First Year of College
College bound students all across the country are getting ready for another year of learning and growing, and for freshmen students, after the fun welcome festivities, the real work begins.
The first year of college is typically a big adjustment period as new students learn to balance a tougher academic load and a more active social calendar. College is meant to be learning and growing experience while also preparing you for a successful career after graduation, so start the journey off right with these top tips for college freshmen.
With a heavy course load and an active social life, it can be hard to stay organized. But establishing good practices right off the bat will keep you from missing the due date on that paper. Get a calendar or daily planner and map out all deadlines, test dates, and project due dates as soon as you know them. This way you can effectively plan out study and homework time, and there will be no all-nighters because you forgot about that history paper.
Organization doesn’t just apply to your calendar; it applies to your class materials as well. Make sure to keep all notes and assignments from one class in the same place, like a notebook or binder. Those 10 pages of art history notes do you no good if they’re mixed up with your anthropology paper in your backpack. Keep materials separate and organized so when it comes times for finals, you’re not scrambling to find notes or review materials.
If you live on your smartphone or tablet, there are also apps that can help you stay organized during the school year. Apps like iStudiez and Evernote can help you keep all your digital materials organized, while an app like Mint can help you keep your finances in check.
Do you remember those clubs, organizations, and volunteer opportunities you spent all that time researching and writing about in your supplements? Well now is the time to actually do them! Getting involved in organizations or research opportunities as soon as you get on campus will help you meet new people and get you on track to achieving your personal and academic goals. Getting involved in the campus community will only enhance your college experience, so dive in right away!
Set a routine
Chances are, your class schedule in college will be dramatically different from what it was in high school. Without the strict high school rigor of one class after another and allotted study-time after school, it can be difficult the first few days of class to get into your groove.
Establish a weekday routine to keep you on track. Wake up at the same time everyday and have breakfast, do some homework, or hit the gym to get you going before heading to class.
If you have a 2-hour break in between classes, use that time to review the material from the class before, or work on upcoming assignments for another class. Stay busy during time between classes by reading, studying, or prepping for another class. Going back to your dorm to take a nap will only make the option of staying in bed and missing that 2 p.m. Spanish class more alluring. Establishing a routine will keep you on track to be in class on time as well as keep you from distractions.
Be flexible but remember that school always come first
Just because you have a routine doesn’t mean you can’t be a little flexible with it every now and then. In college there are going to be many opportunities to try new things, meet new people, and explore interests you already have. If there’s a new club meeting on campus that you want to try, go! If your friends want to take a quick road trip for the weekend, tag along. It’s ok to step out of the bounds of your normal routine to have some fun and try something new, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your classes or grades.
That being said, go to class! It's tempting to skip that big lecture hall since no one takes attendance and you can probably get that day's notes from a friend, but DON'T. Not going to class is not only a waste of tuition, it's also a waste of opportunity. You learn nothing by skipping class, and one class is really only an hour or two out of your day, so just go. Getting into the habit of skipping class can send you and your grades downhill very quickly, so don't take the risk.
College is journey, and you’re just getting started. While it’s important to stay focused on class and grades (after all you are there to get an education), remember to have fun! You’re going to meet a lot of new people and have so many great experiences throughout your four years of college, so embrace it and have a great first year!