This article is not just for incoming freshmen. Although, freshman have the most to gain from this in the long run, I suppose. This advice is for any and all of you who are pumped up for this new semester.
First week energy is the best. You just wrapped up three months of study free bliss, unless you took summer classes, in which case you only got two weeks, but still. You are bursting with energy, recharged from the sun, and ready to take on the world, or at least the 18 hours you thought were a good idea back in April. How can we hone that enthusiasm into realistic goals? How can you use this positivity high to plan for the inevitable mid semester slump? Below is a list of my best advice for using that overflow of summer energy to start your semester off right, which I might know a little something about, since I started (and finished) 9 of them.
1. Introduce yourselfGiphy
This was probably the best advice that my dad gave me when I went off to college, and I didn't use it nearly enough. If you have not been taking the time to introduce yourself to your professors, its not too late. There is only one person who can help you once an assignment is turned in, and wouldn't it be nice if they already knew you name. Gather some of that courage you used to zip line back in July, and go say hello.
2. Buddy upGiphy
Never underestimate the usefulness of a class buddy. You never know when you might need help, or last class's notes. I totally understand if you are introverted, but being outright antisocial can hurt your grades. Take a moment to make a friend in class now, while you're both still in a good mood. You don't have to invite them out for marg's, but it can't hurt to start the year off with someone to compare notes and study with.
3. Open a @#$%@!^ TextbookGiphy
I know what you are going to say. "My professor doesn't even teach out of the textbook". Good, neither did mine. If they teach out of the textbook, why do you need to go to class? You could just read the book. The textbook is meant to be supplementary to the lecture, and you have a much higher chance of understanding the information if you receive it from different sources. Even if you just skim the chapters they reference before each lecture, I guarantee the lesson will make more sense. The best grades I ever made were in classes where I read the book. So start reading now, not in six weeks when you are already confused.
4. Don't overcommit
Somethiems it's easy to let that beginning of semester enthusiasm run rampant. It was my biggest struggle in college. You get back from summer feeling like you can take on the world. 15 hours of studio classes, a part time job, and all the organizations you joined last year just don't seem like enough to keep you busy. So you start making new commitments left and right, thinking you have all the time in the world. But by midterms, you will be struggling under the weight of so much responsibility and regretting the decisions you made in all the excitement.
I am not saying that you are stuck with the choices you made as a freshman. On the contrary, if junior you wants to start something new, you should embrace your current desires, but first you need to clean house.
5. Clean houseGiphy
I don't mean your dorm. Hopefully that is still relatively clean. The semester just started. No. I'm talking about your commitments. Before you go joining Beta Xi Whatever and signing up to be that one professor's TA, look at your current commitments. What have you outgrown? What doesn't hold your interest like it used to? It is better to resign from things that just don't interest you that much anymore, than to let them slip through the cracks of your over-packed schedule. Begining sometimes have to be endings as well.
Another way to keep from slipping up in your commitments, is to re-commit. Sometimes you need to remind yourself how important your involvement is. So give a good long thought to the positions and responsibilities you already have. Are you still prepared to give them your best? Are they still meaningful to you? If so, commit. Again.
7. Plan some "me time"
While you're at it, re-commit to you. Most of us don't act like it, but you are the most important person in your life. You deserve just as much attention as Art History or your bae. So take some of that time you cleared up earlier, and mark it off limits to everyone but yourself.
8. Actually clean houseGiphy
Ok. Now I am talking about your dorm. Right now, while your dorm is shiny and new, make an easy housekeeping schedule. You don't have to wash the walls or anything, just make a plan to sweep, do laundry and tidy up regularly. If you keep up with it from the beginning, it will become a habit before your life starts getting really stressful. Plus, clean and orderly surfaces promote better concentration and are linked to overall happiness.
9. Surround yourself with positivityGiphy
The stress hasn't set in yet, and you are bursting with all this positive energy. Why not share those good vibes with future you? He/She is going to need it. Write yourself some positive affirmations on post-its and stick them around your room. Put a bottle of your favorite smell good lotion in your backpack to find later. Make a positivity playlist to listen to on rough days. Positivity is the number one ingredient for success, so store some away for a rainy day.
None of these are magic spells guaranteeing success, but it is solid advice based on my own experiences. No, I did not always read the textbook, and my dorm was usually a disaster, but when I did have a much easier time when I applied these methods, and I think you will too.
This is me, wishing you your best semester yet!