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10 Things to Remember in Order to Succeed in College

Updated on June 2, 2011

As an incoming freshman

1. One of the most important things to learn in college is time management. I know it probably seems that everyone is preaching this, but trust me. This is the EASIEST way to be successful. I have to say one of the easiest ways to do this is by planning out your days (possibly even your week) ahead of time on an hourly basis and adhere to what you plan. If you have 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. free, maybe take that time to do the biology homework that's due in a couple days. It never hurts to be ahead of the game.

2. Another thing to realize is that although you may be ready to run out the door and never come back, you may be surprised to find yourself missing your friends and family more than you expected. There are always weekends! Don't worry! And if you've chosen a school further away, remember how important college is to your future and know that eventually you'll see your loved ones again.

3. I think what's most surprising to freshman is the change in workload from high school work to college level work. A student with a 4.0 and straight A+'s may be surprised to find themselves struggling for B's their first or second year. It takes time, and what you have to remember is that learning is a process, and you're not the only one experiencing the immense amount of stress than first year college students often feel. Try your best to realize how lucky you are to even have the opportunity to go to a college. Some sources estimate that only 6.7% of the world population own a college degree. So those D's or C's that you're not accustomed to seeing may not be as bad as you previously thought! (Also, many schools have some sort of "freshman forgiveness" policy meaning you may be able to retake a class without it affecting your G.P.A.!)

Exactly What One Should Not Do to Study

Yes, this is a real picture from an all-nighter before a biology exam.  Let's just say I learned everything the hard way.
Yes, this is a real picture from an all-nighter before a biology exam. Let's just say I learned everything the hard way.

4. It kind of goes along with number 4, but study skills are a huge deal! Every student has at least one adviser to help along the lines of adjusting. Many schools have tutoring programs as well (some cost and some do not), and there are always students willing to help out. Learning new note taking strategies to keep up with the teacher can do a great deal of good. For instance, if you know a teacher is going to post slides from lecture later, why not try to note everything he or she expands on in the lecture (the stuff that won't be on the slide). Then you can combine the notes later. That's one of the best tools I picked up. Also, comparing notes with a friend could never hurt!

5. College may be hectic, but if there's one thing that I completely failed at when adjusting to college it was definitely sleeping. For some reason, after procrastinating the 4 page paper due the next morning, and getting that Chipotle I really wanted with some friends, I managed to stay up all night in order to be done by the deadline. This is DEFINITELY NOT recommended. I can say from personal experience that coffee only works so long, and no matter how much caffeine or sugar you pump into your system, you will crash eventually. And that is NEVER fun. I know I sound like a broken record but using a planner or scheduling definitely helps! I have an app on my phone, but I also have a little book to hand write things down as well. I also keep a giant dry erase board in my room and keep it updated with all my current tasks--I find it to be the most helpful.

6. Outside of all this school work, it's also important to try your best to stay healthy. Although it seems most of the food around campus that is particularly delicious also has 5 billion calories in it, there are almost always healthy choices or possibilities even if it means ordering something in a healthier way. My personal favorite is ordering an iced coffee drink with skim milk and light powder mix. Almost half the calories!

7. If you're more concerned about staying fit, a lot of college campuses have school gyms with free entry for students. We might as well take advantage of our opportunities while we can!!

8. Yet another important thing to learn is that although rooming with a person you don't know can be quite frightening at first, he or she (possibly even they) may turn out to be one of your best friends. The old saying, "Never judge a book by it's cover follows as well." Give your roommate a chance. Odds are he/she is just as nervous as you are. If worst comes to worst, it is always possible to apply and switch rooms!

Taking a Walk in Early Morning

Walks can be a pleasant break especially when taken with a friend.  It's also great excersize!
Walks can be a pleasant break especially when taken with a friend. It's also great excersize!

9. After all this talk of responsibility I feel the need to mention that a little break time never hurt anyone!! And if you manage the previous steps, you can probably manage to spend a little time with friends. =) That doesn't have to mean going out and getting crazy every night, but even just some lunch, coffee or dinner every now and then couldn't hurt! College is quite stressful and friends can prove to be one of the greatest, natural stress relievers available. It's okay to take a break every once in a while.

10. Finally, the most important adjustment is also one of the most obvious ones. College is a time for finding yourself, maturing, making friends to last a lifetime, and building memories you'll keep forever. It's not all about the education (although I'm sure if your parents are paying, they will tell you so). And if you feel up to making new friends, join a club or two, participate in intramural sports or a bible study group or maybe even try out for that a Capella group you keep hearing downstairs on Thurdays. Enjoy this time in your life! It's a blessing not a burden, and it won't last forever (that would be bad).

What do you consider or expect to be the hardest transition to make as a college student?

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Freshman Schedule

Click to enlarge!
Click to enlarge!

How to Work Around Classes

To the left is a perfect example of a school schedule for a freshman in college. There are 15 credit hours which is more than full time, and there are quite a few spots opened up during the day for lunch or getting a little ahead on homework.  For example, on Monday at 11:30 a.m., this student might possibly choose to review the Microbiology lecture he or she just attended at 10:30 or maybe even start some laudry (my least favorite part).


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