When I was first asked to write this article, I thought that I was chosen because they wanted someone to tell what NOT to do in college. I was sure that my undergrad transcript from my first few semesters had not gone unnoticed. It is not a pretty sight. Perhaps a more appropriate title would be Things I Wish I Would Have Been Told or at least Advice I Wished I Would Have Listened To. Social success does not guarantee academic excellence. Whether you’re the 17-25 year old student or the 26+ student, the first year is an adjustment. In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, this semester has additional stress on top of the unfamiliarity that comes with being a first time student. But if you keep in mind your main reason for being here, you’ll do fine.
I’ll start by stating the obvious. Attend class and study. You would be surprised at the number of students who don’t bother to do either. It’s tempting to skip class when the night before has gone on too long but it is a terrible habit to get in to. The majority of professors prefer lecture over bookwork so it is imperative that you’re there. I realize that a lot of college students either didn’t have to or didn’t want to study in high school but this isn’t high school anymore. Some work must be done on your own. Set up a quiet time for you each day and go over your notes. You could put the notes in your own words or make associations between new information needed to be learned and information you already know. It is surprising how little time is needed for this if it is consistently done. Cramming does not work. It may get you by a chapter review, but not by finals.
Don’t overload yourself with classes the first year. 12 to 15 hours will be plenty while you are going through the adjustment phase. For help with time management, prioritize and keep a schedule book. This may help with procrastination. Homework and reading assignments stack up fast when you get behind.
Be on time for class. If you’re not a morning person, don’t take a 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. class. Not only does it disrupt the lecture when you’re late, but when it is continually done it irritates some professors as much as not reading the syllabus, daydreaming, cell phones, and excuses.
If you start having trouble with a class, communicate with your professor and/or utilize all of the additional learning avenues the University has available. The professor’s office hours are listed near their doors. Getting help or tutoring is a positive thing to do; most of the help on campus is free of charge.
And finally, join activities, organizations and actively try to make new friends. Look at the individual not the stereotype. If you can maintain a positive outlook/attitude and stick to your convictions then you will find your place and soar past your dreams.
Written by Ashli Richardson
Graduate Assistant for University Counseling Center