Tips for Surviving Your First Year of College

By: Kaycee Grancher

So you’re in college now. Wow! You’ve spent months picking a potential school, filling out applications, filing for scholarships and financial aid, and now you’re here! Suddenly, you’ve been given freedom that you didn’t have in high school. That is so exciting! But, keep in mind that with this freedom comes responsibility. Listed below are some tips to help you survive your freshman year and have an overall fantastic college experience.

1. Read the syllabus.

Yes, it contains the typical dos and don’ts, but many times the syllabus also has a course calendar with a list of assignments and due dates. Now that you’re in college, not all of your teachers and professors will tell you when something is due. They expect you to read on your own. Looking at the syllabus in the beginning can help you know when papers or presentations are due, manage your time effectively throughout the semester, and not be surprised when you hear a classmate talking about an assignment the day it’s due.

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2. Buy/rent the required texts and read them.

In high school, you may have been able to slide by without looking something up on SparkNotes instead of reading. However, now that you’re in college, you’ll see that summaries of books are only going to give you pieces of information, not the whole. You’ll quickly find that in college professors ask students to read texts from different lenses and answer questions based on what has been taught. Relying on SparkNotes will leave you with a limited perspective of a text. This makes it difficult to answer questions a professor has given you for an assignment. Also, professors are really good at telling whether or not you’ve read a text!

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3. Use school resources.

Many colleges offer students free services such as writing centers and tutoring labs. If you’re struggling with an assignment, get help. There is no shame in going to either of these places when it helps you become a better student. Be sure to use these services to your advantage!

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4. Complete the assignments.

In high school, you may have been able to get away with submitting a late paper or having one of your parents write a note to the teacher. But, now that you’re in college, a late paper means a lower grade. Professors are not as lenient and don’t want to hear an excuse they’ve heard hundreds of times before. If you’re truly struggling to complete an assignment, talk to your professor and see if you can work something out.

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5. Have fun.

Even though it’s a lot of work, college is also about having fun. Sign up for clubs, go to campus events, and make plenty of friends. Make sure to enjoy your time in school. In the years to come, you want to be able to look back on college with fond memories, not just remembering it as a place you had to do work. Completing assignments is important, but try to find an appropriate balance between work and play so that you get the most out of your college experience.

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