Success As A Freshman – How To Start Off College On The Right Foot
Many college seniors will tell you that they wish they had done some things differently to make their college experience worthwhile. Four years might have seemed like a long time in high school, but as you get older and have more direction and responsibility in your life, time seems to compress and speed up. Make the right choices now so that you have no regrets in the future.
Take Care of Your Health
Getting at least eight hours of sleep will drastically improve your performance in class and your overall happiness. With all the social engagements that come with college life, choosing to go to sleep early on a weeknight can be very hard, but your health should always come first. Determine a bed time and stick to it.
Even more difficult is avoiding the weight gain that comes with largely unrestricted meal times and limitless access to junk food. The freshman 15 might be a reality that you have to accept, but if your cafeteria serves healthy options and there is a fitness facility on campus, form some good habits now and avoid gaining a freshman 40.
It needs to be acknowledged that whether you're of legal drinking age or not, alcohol is going to be available to you, and you will be pressured to drink it. Other students might argue that college is the time to experiment and go crazy, but unfortunately you aren't issued a new body upon graduation. Even if you don't feel the effects of alcohol abuse in your 20s, you will most certainly feel them by your 40s.
Make College Your Job
Instead of thinking of college as something you're buying and consuming, try to think of it in terms of a job that you have to apply yourself to in order to keep. You wouldn't expect to earn a higher salary if you didn't show up every day on time to work, so apply the same logic to your GPA.
There are many creative ways now to stay organized and productive. If you have a smartphone or tablet (highly recommended for college), apps such as the Complete Class Organizer can help keep you on task and take effective notes. When you form good habits, you might come to realize that there are few things more fulfilling than knowing that you've shown up to class fully prepared.
Learn How to Study
If you are a crammer or a procrastinator, it's time to put these habits to rest. They might be working alright now that your scope of responsibility is limited to doing your homework and you have vast swaths of empty time that are mainly filled by Netflix, but they will not help you later in life when your family, friends, and boss are all demanding equal consideration.
You should be studying for some period of time every day that you have class, whether there's an exam coming up or not. Take an hour or so to review your notes at the end of the day so the concepts are fresh in your mind, and make notes of any questions to ask your professor during the next class. If there's anything about the material you don't understand, don't assume it will all come together in the end - make it a point to be caught up by the end of the next class period. And take advantage of office hours!
Don't Be Afraid of Failure
American culture has fostered an unhealthy fear of failure and an obsession with perfection that's driving us all crazy. Experiencing failure is necessary for learning our own limitations and for developing perseverance. Keep in mind that failing an assignment, an exam, or even a class isn't a reflection of what kind of person you are. If you fail, you are not automatically a "failure."
It's especially important to avoid this line of thinking because college will present you with a lot of opportunities, and you're much less likely to take them if you've been telling yourself all along that you're not good enough. Soon enough your prediction of your own failure will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, because avoiding opportunities for building a résumé and improving your skills will make it harder for you to succeed. Break the cycle now, and don't beat yourself up every time you slip.
College is a wonderful way to begin adulthood, surrounded by goal-driven and optimistic peers and knowledgeable, helpful faculty. Take advantage of every resource offered to you, but also remember to make some fun memories and good friendships that will last you the rest of your life.