As you may have noticed, college is a very big part of my life right now. After having a few semesters under my belt, I can certainly say it’s an overwhelming experience. The difference between what I went into college expecting and what I know now is vast. So, since the Fall Semester is right around the corner, I’d like to share a bit of what I’ve learned in hopes that it will improve your first few semesters.
Note: I don’t live on campus, so I can’t speak to that particular aspect of college life.
Go to orientation – Some people discount the importance of new student orientation, especially on a small campus, but it really is incredibly helpful. During my first semester, I had a classmate who had been there a semester or two longer than me, but she had no idea how to access the campus wi-fi. I did, because I had attended orientation. You learn so many things that you never think to ask. You find out a little bit of who’s who on campus. You go into your first day with some idea of what’s actually going on. Trust me, the few hours you spend in orientation will prove themselves extremely valuable.
Pay attention to your syllabus – This is important on so many levels. I am a big proponent of getting ahold of your class syllabi as soon as possible (they’re often posted online before class starts) so that you get an idea of your class load and your teacher’s expectations. It also gives you a chance to formulate any questions for your teacher; trust me, unasked questions are not your friends. Also, unless they’re in the syllabus, you probably don’t need to freak out about those chapter questions and extra activities. College professors usually pick textbooks to supplement their teaching, but your assignments are rarely directly from the book.
Courtesy of Pixabay
It’s okay to be a perfectionist sometimes – Not everyone has it, but I certainly find in myself that urge to make everything perfect. I’ll over-analyze that one paragraph in my paper; I’ll spend hours matching and personalizing my notebooks and folders. And that’s not automatically a bad thing. When I spend months with those notebooks, I like to see them looking unique. It’s a little something to make me happy in the midst of the college-crazy. However…
It’s okay to let things be imperfect – Sometimes, perfection doesn’t matter as much as I think it does. Prioritization is key in all areas of life, and college makes that abundantly clear. I’m beginning to realize that Bs and Cs are passing grades, too, and, while I do believe in striving for excellence, I also believe that needlessly trying to be perfect is no reason to hurt yourself. It’s important to let some things go.
Check your drawers before buying more lined paper – Seriously, it’s amazing how many pieces of loose paper, notebooks, and writing supplies I accumulate over time. And, while office supplies are fairly cheap, the cost accumulates over time. You can save yourself a lot of money by combing through your backstock and reusing supplies.
The stack I’ve accumulated is… substantial
Take time to define terms – Maybe it sounds like a waste of time, but defining terms has been invaluable for me in my college classes. They may not be required (mine rarely are), but the time I spend going through my textbook chapter and writing down highlighted terms is instrumental in helping me remember important concepts. Not every textbook has terms like this, but, for those that do, write down the definitions. Repetition is your friend, and definitions are an excellent form of repetition.
Don’t talk about college all the time – This has not been easy for me to learn. When college is the biggest thing in my life, I tend to talk about it a lot. But I’ve discovered that my family doesn’t exactly appreciate that. They have other things that are important to them, and, while they truly do want to hear about what’s going on with me, they don’t want college to be the only thing out of my mouth. Don’t get so wrapped up with college that you sound like a know-it-all (trust me, there’s plenty you don’t know) or arrogant (no, college is not more important than whatever everyone else is up to). Be self-aware enough not to annoy everyone.
Courtesy of Pixabay
Remember why you’re here – College can be immensely distracting, with new friends, activities, pressures, and experiences. It’s easy to get your priorities wrong. Just remember what the purpose is. Why are you at school in the first place? Friends and fun are great, but you’re there to learn. Don’t let yourself get so distracted that you miss out on actually learning. Prioritize school – get good sleep, eat well, go to class, pay attention, respect your professors, turn in your work. There are plenty of good things that will come alongside that; just make sure your focus is on the right things.
So, there you go. Some of my tips for navigating college as a newbie. There are many other things that could be said, and I intend to address other aspects of college in future posts.
For now, I’d like to hear from you. For those of you in college, what are your tips for freshman survival? And what other college-related things would ya’ll like me to post about? Let me know in the comments!