1. If you need help, do not be afraid to ask for it.
This is important. I know sometimes it can make you feel a little uncomfortable to ask for help, whether it be for tutoring or just a question that you may have about something, but it is more important that you get the help you need than to worry about the process to get there. Sure, you could send your professor an email, but sometimes it is better to meet with them and ask your question in person. At my school, all of the professors are required to have office hours, and I cannot tell you how many times they have expressed how happy they would be to help with any questions, or even to write recommendation letters. Most of the time they are just sitting in their office, and would love to help you!
2. Do not wait 'til the last minute to work on something that's due.
Procrastination usually seems like a great idea at first, especially when you want to go out and do something fun before you write that paper, or work on those math problems. Sometimes it will work out, and everything goes pretty smoothly, but other times you might end up regretting it.
I can hear all the procrastinators saying, “No, I’m fine, I can get it done no problem." I thought the same thing too, until this semester, and then I was like, this is a really, really bad idea. (Granted, knowing that still does not stop me from procrastinating half the time either.)
With all that said, if you’re going to put something off, give yourself a little extra time to work on it, because I guarantee it’s probably going to take you longer than you think it will. Be diligent.
3. Take some time for yourself.
After you’re caught up, or mostly caught up (because as a college student you’re never truly, completely caught up on your work), go out with your friends, or do something that you truly enjoy. It will put some life and energy back into you after all the draining hours of schoolwork. Go out and have fun, but keep in mind that you will not want to regret it too much in the morning (so you might not want to stay out too late), because you’ve got MORE work to do.
4. Actually go to your classes.
Yes, there will be days that you might think about skipping a class or two, but not only does this affect your attendance, which can affect your grade if you miss too many classes, but it can also affect your grade if you’re not going over the material that is covered in class. Besides, you’d probably rather go to class and get all the information in your brain and written in your notes than to have to go back over those things later.
5. Ask your friends which professors they loved.
Your first semester, you may or may not know anyone who has already been at your school for one or more semesters, so you might have to pick a variety of classes and random professors, and just see how that goes. That, in itself, is a great learning experience, because not only does it help you see which professors or classes you like or dislike, but it also helps you figure out if you want to take another class taught by one of your previous professors, or if you'd rather not.
But by the time your next semester comes around, you have probably made a few friends, and can share your opinions with each other on professors and how they teach, as well as different classes’ workloads. This information can be a great way to pick out future classes, and also can help you figure out whom you want to be taught by, as well as how you want to be taught.
6. Wear proper shoes to class, especially if you are going to be late.
This might sound a little ridiculous, but think about it, if you have to go up and down several flights of stairs, or walk a long distance to get to your class; you probably will regret choosing to wear those cute flip-flops when running up those five flights of stairs, won’t you? I can also guarantee that you will regret wearing anything that does not fit quite right or might cause a blister too. Just the other day I wore this pair of boots for the first time, and I thought they fit my feet right, so I put them on for the day and headed off to my classes. Turns out, they slipped a little on my heel, and I did not have on thick enough socks, so I had to live with that reminder for a few days. (Side note, now that I tightened them up a bit, they fit great!) Basically, just make sure your shoes will be secure on your feet and that they fit right, and you’re all set.
7. …And wear the right kind of clothes.
In addition to proper footwear, be sure to dress appropriately for the temperature outside, AND inside. You're going to want to be comfortable. It could be 85 degrees outside, but you might be sitting in a classroom for a couple hours, cold, because you do not have a jacket for the 68-degree indoor temperature, and you are in a tank top and shorts. Believe me, been there, done that; will not do it again. Sometimes it is easier to go by this rule of thumb in the wintertime when you’re wearing twenty layers of clothes and snow boots because it’s below freezing outside, and you can always shed layers when you are inside. But it’s definitely important to remember that extra layer in the summer, no matter how nice your outfit looks. It is far better to be comfortable and cute, than cute and cold. (See, regardless, you still look great; it’s a win-win!)
8. Get some exercise! It will do you a world of good.
If you play a sport in college, off-season is probably the only time that you might think about this, but for those of us who do not, we could generally always use a little more exercise. Not only does working out burn calories, but it can also help your mind to de-stress as well, and oftentimes that is far more important than getting rid of those extra calories that were consumed while studying. Make time for you, and maybe add a little run or something in there too. It'll probably help you study better once you're done, even if you are really busy.
9. It's completely normal to feel overwhelmed.
But refuse to stay in that mindset, because it will make you miserable. Acknowledge that you're going to need to get things done, and set aside time to do so, but don't stress over the future; focus on the present and what you can do now instead. Additionally, it can be really helpful to buy a planner and write down when all of your homework and assignments are due, and then also schedule when you will work on them. If you freak out every now and then, it's okay. Just hop back on the "I'm gonna get stuff done!" train, and you'll be fine. Try to motivate yourself as best as you can, even though at this point you'd rather be doing anything but schoolwork.
Take a moment to breathe. It's all going to be okay, I promise. Break is coming, I repeat, break is coming!