11 Tips For The Incoming Freshman To Ace Your First College Semester
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11 Tips For The Incoming Freshman To Ace Your First College Semester

Because college is exceedingly different from high school.

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Girl throwing a thumbs up as she holds up her phone with her materials in front of her.
Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

High school was a total breeze for me academically. I barely had to study for tests and homework wouldn't even take me over an hour to do.

The only class I seemed to struggle with was math but that's a different story. I was an honors student all throughout my four years, also taking AP classes that were also light work.

When I got to higher education, it was like I was smacked right in my face. No longer were my days of breezing through classes, I actually had to work to earn my grade.

As my high school and previous work ethic did not prepare me for the constant rush of the college classroom, here is a list of tips of what I did to achieve good grades so you are not blindsided by your first exam or large project.

1. Get a planner and write down all important dates

Once that syllabus is your in hand, write the dates down in your planner! Every single assignment, exam, test, quiz, you name it.

With my anxiety, I write the dates both in my planner and plug them into my phone as well so I won't be surprised by an exam or an assignment.

It also made for great time management and I found it so much easier to just flip to a date and know what I had to do.

Organization is key. Literally.

2. Act like all of your assignments are due in three days

Obviously not to the point where you stress yourself out too much. The earlier assignments take priority.

This way you get everything finished early on and are not scrambling to get them done at the last second. Helpful if you are one to schedule in your relaxation time like me.

3. Do not procrastinate

Wow, I am extremely guilty of this one hence the tip above. Procrastination is your worst enemy and sometimes you just have to suck it up and force yourself do whatever it is you have to do.

If you have something vital due the next day or maybe an important exam, perhaps don't go out to that party or stay up watching Netflix. No matter how much you want to.

4. Find your study habits

For me, it's testing myself. Are you a hands-on or a visual learner? Do certain things confuse you?

Find any study apps on your phone and choose whatever works best for you. I like listening to classical music or rain sounds also to help me focus more.

5. Naps!!!

Sleeping after retaining information is a great way to lock that info in your brain, learned that in one of my seminars.

It's also a great way to keep feeling refreshed and if you're a serial napper like me, you'll appreciate that you can fit some sleepy time into your day.

6. Attend class

For most classes, attendance is part of the grade! Depending upon how they make sure you are in class, how do you expect to pass if you don't show up?

Professors also remind the class about important dates or more accurately explain a concept than online notes. My advice for you is just not to take an 8 a.m., I could never roll out of bed.

7. Find a study partner

Or a group, whatever floats your boat. Don't be afraid to be that person that makes sure that everyone is staying on task. Do, however, ask questions especially if you are confused.

Someone else could be struggling with the same thing. Make a game of Kahoot. The best way to realize if you know the material is to try to teach it to someone else. Also learned that in the seminar.

8. Tutoring!

Check your school resources and see if they offer free tutoring and with what subject. If they don't have something that you need, you can always ask an upperclassman or a TA. Maybe a friend had taken the class before you and could help out a little.

9. Introduce yourself

Totally be the teacher's pet. Sit in the front, go to office hours, make yourself known. Professors will know a face to go along with your name and some of them are actually extremely cool and offer extra credit to a select few or job/internship opportunities.

Never hurt to be a suck-up.

10. Rewrite your notes

I like taking my notes on my laptop in class because not only it is neater, but also much faster. Then I rewrite them using colored pens so I know what's a definition, a concept, a person, etc.

You are also more likely to remember something you wrote down other than just hearing it or typing it. Your hand may cramp and you may have to wait for the colored ink to dry but trust me, it's all worth it in the end.

11. Extra credit?

DO IT. Even if you know your grade is fine without it, do every extra credit that is offered. Say it's for a rainy day if you end up doing not so hot on an assignment or a test.

So get to studying and strive for that 4.0! But do remember that you are not defined by your GPA. Everyone struggles with something, don't be afraid to reach out to others if you feel like school is overwhelming you.

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