It’s more or less a sure thing that your first year of college will be challenging. If there’s anyone out there who survived the first year of college challenge-free, please share your most unusual story!
But there are some things that you can do to make your grand entrance into higher education a bit easier.
Sure, there are going to be late nights. You might even pull an all-nighter, though plenty of people get through college without putting themselves through that.
Just remember that sleep is essential to having your body (and brain) function properly. Being well rested will help you learn new information, and resting well will help you retain what you’ve learned. Even your immune system will be stronger.
So, sleep! Sleeeeeep. Count the sheep.
Assuming that you’re awake and taking notes during your lecture, spend a few minutes after class reading through them. Do you remember what you learned? Do your notes make sense?
You may have followed along with what the professor was saying during class, but reviewing your notes soon after is a way to make sure you really processed the information. It will reinforce what you learned and save you from starting all over when it’s time to prepare for the exam.
And, if you need to straighten out a concept or clarify something confusing, you can set a time to meet with your professor and TA while the lecture is still fresh in your mind (more on that below).
Office hours are your time to ask the professor questions one-on-one or in a small group. Office hours are for you!
In addition to reviewing class material, visiting office hours from time to time is a great way to get to know your professor on a more personal level. Many professors are looking for opportunities to help motivated students as they make their way through college and will be glad to see you.
You don’t have to go at it alone. There is probably someone in your dorm or nearby who’s in the same class. And it doesn’t have to be your new best friend; the relationship might simply be a friendly meeting over this week’s problem set.
Working with a study partner or two can be a refreshing and helpful break from the usual social scene of first-year living. You can be resources for each other, each with different skills and perspectives on the problems at hand. Of course, for this to work, you’ll want to be sure to study with someone else who is going to focus and take it seriously.
A professor taught me this principle in college and I’ve kept it with me ever since. Whenever something is overwhelming or frustrating or maddening, I say to myself, “Five years." Is this going to matter in five years? This problem set? This fight over dishes in the sink? Why the common room smells? Most of it won’t seem as important as it does now, probably.
That’s not to say that whatever is on your mind isn’t important, but “five years" always helps me keep things in perspective.
Almost-free medical care is a beautiful, rare thing, so make the most of it!
Benefits of Sleep. (2014). Healthy Sleep. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from Healthy Sleep
Benefits of Studying in Groups. (2012). ISHC RSS. Retrieved May 1, 2014 from Illinois School of Health Careers