Congratulations! You’ve made it to college. A brand new chapter of yours is anew and you’re probably pretty anxious to begin. Finding the perfect school, mentally decorating your dorm room, and fantasizing about the experience waiting for you away from home was the hard part. And you’re done now. You’ve found your school, decorated your new room and began meeting some cool people that may become lifelong pals. Now it’s time to do what you actually came to college for—get an education. Regardless of what intended major or passion you have, you must be aware of the courses you are signing up for. Taking the wrong classes that is not relevant to the degree you wish to have will keep you in school for much longer than the recommended four years. Sure, college is great, but do you really want to be there for six or more years incurring mountains of debt? Hopefully, not.
And I hope I did not scare you. I promise you’ll make it through, and with that coveted degree. Just consider these things:
Choose courses that you actually have an interest in
Typically, it is a good idea to have an idea of what you would like to major in. Think about what subject you enjoyed the most during high school. Whose homework could you finish in no time because it was not difficult? Did anyone ask for your help in certain areas that they could not understand? Did you enjoy helping them with it? This could influence what you decide to pursue. Signing up for the easiest classes that you heard students talking about around campus most likely won’t help much. In fact, it may hinder you from getting serious about your college career and actually gaining the degree destined for you. Challenge yourself.
Think logically when designing your class schedule
My biggest mistake in my freshman year of college was thinking that I could knock out all of my classes in the morning so I would have a clear afternoon. That was a disaster.
My high school began at the crack of dawn (7:15 a.m.) every day. I figured 8 o’clock classes would be easy because waking up at 6 o’clock to get ready for high school had my sleeping schedule in tune with the early birds.
The problem was that I did not consider having a social life. Or consider that I may stay up late doing homework, or talking to my roommate, or watching television. Whether you realize or not, you no longer have the encouragement, or discipline, of your parents to help get you up for school and go to bed for a full night’s rest. Not every student will have this issue but many will, and could end up sleeping through those early classes. Trust me, it is a lot easier to hit the snooze button without fear of your mother slapping you awake with her personal hand alarm.
Think this student could be you? Try scheduling classes later in the morning and give yourself breaks between those classes. Use the breaks to get something to eat, or take a quick nap before the next class. You will be surprised how energized you are and remain throughout the day. Also, make it easier on your brain and schedule difficult classes during the afternoon and after lunch—that could help you focus a lot better. The goal of designing your class schedule is picking classes that you would like to take and won’t struggle attending every day. But if you absolutely cannot avoid those early morning classes, just take your butt to bed at a decent hour.
Are you a visual, audio, or kinesthetic learner? If you don’t know, take time to figure that out. In college you must stay organized if you plan to succeed. With all the classes, social functions, and outside activities, you will forget things. And it may be something as simple as email that paper, the one you already completed, to your professor by a deadline. You’ll think “what an idiot” for forgetting something that small, but it happens. So, find a way to not let that happen! Planners and calendars can be very essential for visual and kinesthetic learners. Or get a voice recorder if you think that will work for you. Anything that you need to complete, or think you may forget, write (or record) it down. Check your emails daily and pay attention in class. It is not hard to stay organized and once you make it a daily routine, it will become second nature.
Don’t make your life more complicated with a part time job
Think about your priorities; are you a student or a worker first? Having a part time job could interfere with your classes and seize a lot of time that would be dedicated to getting schoolwork done. You should not have a dire need for much money during your first years at school: most likely you are living on campus, have a meal plan, and can get most places with transportation provided by the university. All these things should be included in your tuition. So take the time to get to know the other students at your school and focus on school so you can graduate on time.
Not having a job in school will always free up your weekends so utilize them. Do not procrastinate to do work assignments because it will pile up before you know it. If you want to have a carefree weekend, get all of your work that’s due on Monday done on Friday. Or to try to get all your work done before you head out to that party for the night. You will feel good about yourself knowing that you don’t have obligations waiting for you once you wake up from a night of fun.
Ultimately, school should be a great and prosperous experience. Of course, it will get stressful (there’s no avoiding it) but balancing your course load and having the right methods to succeed in those classes will keep it at a minimum.