Every new semester comes with new surprises, but I have found that these six things can lead you on your path to academic success!
1. Use ratemyprofessor.com!
Ratemyprofessor.com is a website where you are able to search your professor's name to see how well or how poorly they perform in each course they teach. It's controversial because the students are the people doing the ratings, and they are usually ones who have had a very negative experience or a very positive experience with the professor. However, you can find very useful information on the website such as how each professor sets up exams, whether or not the book is essential to passing, if there are any online assignments, what the average grade in their courses are, etc. It's a great tool to get to know the professors before you actually meet them, and it allows you to be prepared for what is to come!
2. Stay organized.
Keep a notebook and a folder for each course you take, so you will be able to keep everything for each course in the same spots. And if you really want to get organized, you can color code the notebooks and folders. That way, you'll know exactly where to find each paper and notes for a specific class. Another thing that is extremely important to stay organized is to keep an agenda. They are imperative for organizing due dates for papers, exams, homework assignments, or events. If you write everything down that needs to get done that day, you can get everything accomplished without forgetting something and still have time to enjoy yourself.
3. Become one with your syllabi.
A syllabus is pretty much a blueprint of your life for the next 15 weeks, so it is important to make it your best friend. You should write down the important dates on a calendar, and check the class schedule every day to make sure you're right on track with everything. It also has a lot of other important information such as what counts towards your final grade, the professor's office hours, their email, and things that you may have questions about throughout the semester. A lot of people ignore the information on there, or throw it away, but it is a really big part of organzing and making sure you're on your path to academic success.
4. Ask questions.
Professors are not there to make sure you fail. They want you to do well, and if you ever need advice on the best way to study for their course, or if you want to know if the book is essential to passing, send them an email. It's also important to ask questions about material that isn't quite clear to you. You need to make sure everything is understandable before it comes time for exam day. No question is absurd, so don't be afraid to ask.
5. Don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed.
Stress can get in the way of performing to your full potential, so make sure you give yourself space to breathe. One way to do this is to stay on task and not procrastinate by keeping a schedule of what you need to get done that day. Another reason why people become overwhelmed is that they feel a strong need to be involved on campus. It is emphasized as a freshman that you need to get involved, but my belief is that you should get involved when you are ready. Coursework itself can be overwhelming, and if you don't have the time in your schedule to fit in an extracurricular activity, it is not the end of the world. You have to make sure you do what is best for your own sanity.
6. Leave time for you.
This is probably the most important piece of advice I was given before going off to college. Leaving time for yourself, whether it be to focus on eating healthy, exercising, socializing, or even just taking a thirty minute nap once in a while, will take a lot of stress off of your shoulders. It will keep you in a happy and healthy mindset to accomplish what needs to be done for a successful semester!