5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Semester of College

Transitioning from high school coursework to college classes, which entails a completely different dynamic, doesn't have to be a difficult adjustment if you work hard with a proactive mentality. Although every college student is bound to make mistakes and ultimately repair them, there are a few guidelines that would have saved me a lot of time and stress my first semester in college.

If you are an incoming college freshman or a student looking for tips on how to better succeed in courses, here are a few recommendations that have academically paid off.

1. Attendance

Freshman year at FSU entailed very large classes, most of which attendance was rarely taken, making it very easy for students to skip classes without being noticed. Even though your grade might not directly be affected by missing classes, when it comes to assessments and studying, it pays to go to every class. Professors or teaching assistants will usually provide more help to the students they see present and paying attention throughout the semester.

2. Notes

There are various methods that professors use to teach a course such as slides, verbal lectures, or readings from a textbook. Although some professors seem to make things easy by posting lecture slides or recommending to read the textbook, all students should be listening and recording important information relayed by a professor through their desired method of notetaking. Professors are relaying certain information that might not directly correspond to slides or textbooks in order to make learning easier for students, so take advantage of how a professor teaches and make sure to take organized notes.

3. Communication

Being in extremely large classes can be intimidating, making you feel as if you are solely a number, but reaching out to professors or teaching assistants personally or via email will shine a light on you as an individual. Make sure to visit your professor's office hours to show that you care about the class, as it paves a comfortable atmosphere for times when you need help or have any questions. Making sure you are openly communicating with your professors is a great way to become more involved in class, paving you more opportunities to get help and ask questions before assessments.

4. Planning ahead

Most professors hand out a syllabus the first day of class which plans out the entire semester's course work up to the exam date. This syllabus should become your academic bible and should be written in a planner or notebook that you check regularly in order to complete assignments and study for assessments ahead of time. Aligning each of your courses schedules will allow you to work on one class assignment earlier if you have multiple assessments or due dates packed into one week. It is important to understand that your professors do not talk amongst themselves to spread out assignments and exams, therefore making an overview of your whole semester and sticking by it will alleviate stress and decrease cramming later on.

5. Take advantage of resources for exams

If you are struggling in a class and an exam is not far away, there are many resources that you can turn to in order to receive tutoring or study help. Many tutoring companies offer packets that can be bought as study guides and FSU offers free student tutoring on campus. Do not ever give up on studying for a class that you find too challenging or confusing, instead, research any information that could potentially allow you to grasp the information better. Making sure to take advantage of FSU's free tutoring should be your first option before paying for packets or online reviews.

I developed these academic guidelines for myself after struggling to manage all of my first semester courses and ultimately found my grades higher and stress levels lower after following these tips. Jumping into college courses can seem intimidating and although a university-level education is meant to push your academic and intellectual boundaries, it is important to remember that with hard work and motivation, you can flourish in any class.

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