No matter where you go, your college experience won’t compare to what you’ve become used to in high school. Whether you’ll be going away to college and living away from home for the first time or commuting to a university or community college closer to home, chances are you’ll need to figure out the fine art of time management. You’ll be expected to juggle school with a slew of new responsibilities depending on your financial situation or interests, and may want to make it a point to meet new people and make friends somewhere in there. With some tips on figuring out what to expect out of your new college lifestyle, your new life in higher education could be less stressful and more fun and rewarding.
Finding a Balance
If you’ve taken Advanced Placement classes in high school, you may already know the demands of college-level courses. Now imagine a full load of those A.P. classes – unless you’re taking a less intense elective to give yourself a break in your schedule. Expect long nights, term papers and daily study sessions, especially during finals week when the “all-nighter” is a popular study habit. The best way to avoid cram sessions is not to procrastinate in the first place, but if it can’t be avoided, make sure you cram smart: Consult your classmates on what they think the main points of the exam or assignment are, organize and outline, prioritize the most important and timely assignments first, and take mini-breaks to avoid burning out. If you keep on top of your schoolwork throughout the semester, you won’t be as frazzled come finals week, and you’ll have more time to do the things college is supposed to be about (outside of academics of course) – making lifelong friends and finding your niche out there in the real world.
Making time for friends and socializing is an important part of college. (Although we can’t emphasize enough that if you don’t do well academically you won’t have a chance to meet many friends, since you will have flunked out of school.) Freshman year when your classes are a bit easier – yes, upperclassmen, those first-year courses you thought were intense have nothing on classes you’ll be taking junior and senior year – is the ideal time to meet new people, as many of those freshmen you see will be in the same boat as you. Try to make some friends in all your classes, as they’ll not only make coming to class easier, but will give you a buffer if have to miss a session and don’t want to go to your professor for that assignment he handed out while you were out sick...or "out sick."
Even if you're a commuter student, adapting to the college lifestyle will mean making some adjustments. You’ll be meeting new people every day, and bombarded with requests to join this club or that. You’ll also be learning how to act responsibly when it comes to managing your money and time while making sure you don’t let your grades slip. Once you master that freshman year, though, chances are you’ll know what works for you and what you need to do to keep up with all of your new responsibilities. You’ll also need to learn how to keep from being overwhelmed and forgetting about your life back home. Try to check in on your family once in a while, as often they’re the ones funding your college education, and if you’re on a campus far from home, make it a point to return home during one of those long breaks since most freshmen especially wouldn’t be on campus during the holidays.
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