Freshman College Strategies
A Survival Guide to Academic Success
I can think back to last year at this time and the kind of stress I experienced was nothing compared to my first semester in college; from receiving college acceptance and denial letters, to preparing for the last set of ACT and SAT dates available, my whole high school career was less stressful then this semester. I went to a high school that did not operate like most since we used (unfortunately) the seven-period schedule, where we would spent the entire year with the same seven classes. That system personally didn't help me adjust to what college had in store, especially midterms and finals. In high school, finals week came around at the end of the year, sometimes in May, and our knowledge would be put to the test. However, my limited experiences were expanded! I will be giving some tips to help you succeed during the semester, midterms, and finals season and bypass that unnecessary stress:
1.) Go to class.
As impractical as it sounds, being present isn't just for a grade. When in class, it shows your teacher that you are dedicated to learning and doing well in their class, even if they don't seem interested, either. Also, being in class gives you a better understanding of the material than you just copying notes from a friend or from online. Lastly, you should want to go to class because it's YOUR MONEY being wasted by YOU not going, because your professor gets paid whether you show up or not.
Say it with me, S-L-E-E-P. The stereotype that us college kids pull all-nighters and such is true. However, that doesn't and shouldn't be your label as a student. Sleep deprivation is a horrible thing to go through, but it can be prevented! Time management is key to making sure your day flows smoothly, disregarding any uncontrollable, outside force(s). I started planning my weeks about a month ago, and the change is remarkable; seeing what you should be doing at each hour of the day helps keep you accountable and focus, which in return allows you to SLEEP. Being tired while having to go to class and study makes those tasks seem impossible, just because you feel like you haven't slept in days (insert GIF of Forrest taking about Jenny when she came back to see him).
3.) Chunk, don't cram.
Cramming is an unhelpful solution to getting the grades you want on quizzes, tests, and especially finals. Chunking is a method of learning where you study newly learned materials in sections. I learned this my introductory psych class and it actually works. My test average increased and my confidence in what I knew was high, which is always a bonus! Chunking is the best way, in my opinion, to keep the stress of not knowing anything down. Even if you forget to study the night before a test, by chunking after classes each day, you'll be able to still do well! Also, chunking can help you have long-term success when testing and makes studying for finals way easier than cramming. All cramming does is rattle your brain more than it already is and makes you order a Starbucks coffee with two double shots of espresso and twelve pumps of caramel (yes, an RA in my dorm order that during midterms).
4.) Use student resources.
I know at the College of Charleston we have the Center for Student Learning, the CSL, which is free of charge (a.k.a. you've already paid for it) to current students seeking help with homework, testing skills, stress management, and other academic issues you may be having. The workers are made up of students that excel in certain subjects in specific areas (i.e. a student teacher from the Chemistry department giving help to anyone in Chem 111) and are recommended by their professors. Being a first-time college student can be scary, and asking your professor for help is most likely the last thing you'd want to do, so get out there and find the resources you need to do your very best!
5.) Make connections.
This simple step can make a huge difference in your college career. First impressions last forever and making good ones as a freshman can show you're a serious student! There are people are just waiting for students to come in for help and any other thing you might need, so don't be afraid of the people in authority at your school. I know it's scary meeting new people in a new environment, but believe me, it will set the stage for the next four years and those connections become accessible to you at all times. I've made some great relationships with my academic advisor, freshman director of programs, and other staff members that have made the high school to college transition way smoother than I expected. Put yourself out there, in a positive way, and make those connections!
There are many more tips and hacks I can give, but these are some of the best that have helped me do better in and out of the classroom. I know for a fact that these tips can help you strive to your academic goals, since they helped me achieve a 3.0 GPA my first semester of college. College can be overwhelming and difficult, but remember the hassle is worth the tassel! Get prepared to knock your finals out of the park and ready to relax on winter break. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all and thanks for reading!