College: A Freshman’s Survival Guide

By: The Farmers Bank

Hasn’t this summer just flown by?!? A couple of months ago, you graduated from high school. You were “Big Man (or Woman) on Campus.” All the lower classmen looked up to you, wishing they were walking in your shoes (you did it, too!), getting out of this town and going off to college or tech school, moving into the adult world, being the person in charge of your future.

If you see yourself in this role, I don’t want to scare you but guess what…IT’S BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!!! This might just be the most dreaded phrase any student could hear. Back to school means trading off sleeping late for early classes, labs, and lectures. Going off to school for the first time, although exciting, conjures up dread and anxiety. So, with all my motherly wisdom and experience of sending children off to college, I found these seven back to school tips every new college student should use. The tips come from the American Institute of Medical Sciences and Education and my children will attest to how spot on they are for your first year of college.

Become friends with your professors.

Never forget that class isn’t confined to the classroom. Your professors have office hours for a reason. You can use those hours to review material from class, establish a relationship with the professor and help out when you can. It will help you understand your coursework, as well as give you a head start on finding internships, preparing for future courses and make connections that will last way past your graduation.

Treasure your Syllabus.

Do not and, I repeat, do not toss your syllabus into your backpack and think “okay, I’ll read this later.” The syllabus is a map to good grades. As soon as you get your syllabus, make a schedule of all deadlines and assignments for the rest of the term. You can use an online calendar or a paper calendar. This will help you plan ahead. Once you have established your calendar, review it often. Each professor’s syllabus contains his or her expectations, guidelines, tips on exams, and other clues that may be valuable throughout the semester.

Start studying as soon as possible.

Although there might not be much homework the first few week(s), this is a perfect time to get a jump on your studies. Create a routine and keep up with studying and your assignments. I can never say this too much…READ AHEAD! The more you get done early, the easier the rest of the semester will be later. Don’t be one of those people who will be struggling to keep their head above water when the work starts piling on, and it will!

Get yourself a study buddy or group.

Making friends isn’t only important for your social life. Friends can help your grades. Having a study partner or group to review classwork could make or break your semester. It’s like getting a group of free tutors and helps you with different methods of studying. If you’re not sure who to partner with, or if you are shy, you can always ask your professor to set you up with some partners who might be interested in meeting outside of class for extra study.

Have a room for all of your studies.

Studying at college or tech school is different from the studying you did in high school. Don’t just hole up in your room or the library for hours on end, but have a different place to study for each subject. This might seem a little quirky but having alternate locations for each subject will help your brain organize and catalog concepts and materials. Give it a try! At least it will get your blood flowing as you move from location to location which will give you an extra boost of energy that will you need to continue studying.

Get your sleep schedule under control.

If you have been sleeping later than normal over the summer, it is likely your body will not be prepared to get up early for class. Before you leave for your new life, get into a routine of waking up an hour before your first class. Make it a habit of getting to bed at the same time each night. This will help you reset your internal clock and ensure you can get up before the early morning lecture.

Keep stress under control.

It is important that you take care of all important issue like paying bills, time-consuming errands, debts you need to pay off and even people you need to visit before the beginning of the school year. All of these things are stress factors that will overwhelm you when your studies begin. Anything that weights on your mind and can be completed before classes begin will ease your worries and allow you to focus on school.

I wish you the best as you start your first semester. I was a first time college student once (at the ripe old age of 50) and had to learn to study all over again. I can attest to the fact that these tips, if you use them, will make life a lot easier and your journey more memorable.   Give them a try, what have you got to lose or gain!

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