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College: How to Survive The First Year

Oct 9, 2007
For many potential college students, starting school can be intimidating. Some have anxieties about leaving home. Others fret about the cost. Most worry they won't do well in school. Below are ten tips that will not only help you survive your first year - or any year - but thrive.

1. Go to all orientations. Yes, that's right - it really is necessary to attend all the school orientations. The more familiar you are with the school as well as its rules and expectations, the better you'll do. Armed with a thorough understanding of all aspects of campus life - or, at least, those aspects you can glean from orientation - you will feel more at ease when issues arise, as they always do.

2. Get organized. In high school, teachers tend to shepherd students through homework and due dates. In college, by contrast, professors post the assignments and expect you to be prepared. They don't have much patience for excuses like "I didn't know when it was due." So do what you have to do - buy an electronic organizer, a planner, or a big wall calendar - but get organized.

3. Study regularly. Kind of a no-brainer, but this is an essential part of success. In addition to studying regularly, you should find an ideal place for you to study, whether at the library a quiet place in your dorm, whatever works best for you. Like with most things, when it comes to study time, quality is better than quantity.

4. Be on time to class. What happens when you're late or don't show up to class? You get behind, miss out on assignments and lecture notes, and often project an "I don't care" attitude to the professor. Often it is tempting to sleep through early morning class or skip it altogether - resist temptation. Make it a priority to attend all of your classes on time. Your grades will thank you later.

5. Meet with your professors when appropriate. Not only should you meet with professors to ask questions about assignments but also to get to know them. Remember there are upsides to having a personal relationship with your professor, especially if you run into snags late in the semester. Professors schedule office hours for the sole purpose of meeting with students - take advantage of that time.

6. Get to know your academic adviser. The job of the academic adviser is to help you make informed decisions about majors and minors, resolve course conflicts, and add or drop classes. In short, your academic adviser is your life preserver in college - make sure you use them. If your assigned adviser doesn't have time for you, or if the two of you don't click, don't be afraid of requesting another one.

7. Maintain a balance. College offers students the chance to expand their education, to meet friends, and to develop talents. But concentrating on one area too much can be dangerous. Without proper attention to school, grades will fall. But without a social life, college can become a burden. Be sure to maintain a balance - study hard and play hard.

8. Get involved. Many new college students struggle with homesickness and feelings of not belonging. A good way to overcome these feelings is to join various student organizations, clubs, sororities or fraternities, or sports teams. You'll make new friends, learn new skills, and feel more connected to your school.

9. Don't feel pressured to make crucial decisions too soon. Sometimes students feel like they need to choose a major and begin preparing for a specific career during their first semester. Not true. Remember that part of the college experience is getting to know others and yourself. It is not a race. Feel free to explore your options, talents, likes and dislikes. Make an educated decision - not a hasty one.

10. Make time for yourself. Finally - and most importantly - remember that you should take time out of each week for yourself. Whether spent exercising, watching a favorite movie or television show, or spending time outdoors, personal time is essential to mental, emotional, and physical wellness, which has a profound effect your college performance. Thus, one of the most important lessons you should learn in college is how to relax. That being said, be careful of taking too much time for yourself. Remember you're at school to work.

While these ten tips are especially relevant for college students, it should be observed that many can be applied elsewhere. College is a microcosm of life; as such, your ability to excel in college is often a good predictor of how you will fare in other situations, such as the workplace. Thus, these skills are not only tips on how to survive college but also how to survive life.
About the Author
Ben Welch writes articles about online education and online degrees.
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