Attention: All incoming freshmen! Congratulations on getting into college. It’s a great accomplishment after all but it’s only just the beginning. The transition from high school to college can be tough. From my own personal experience as an undergrad at Michigan State University the transition from high school to college was one of the most challenging and most enriching experiences of my life. I was the first person in my family to ever go to college. I had no clue what college was until a recruiter from MSU came to my school to do onsite admissions. Sounds crazy, right?
With hard work, dedication, and excellent time management skills, I was able to graduate with a 3.48 GPA. Throughout my journey at MSU I learned many things the hard way. Fortunately for you, I have worked out all of the kinks and have prepared the ultimate cheat sheet on college that will provide you with tips and tricks that will help you maximize your academic success.
1. Invest in a Planner!
This sounds like a no brainer, right? You wouldn’t believe how many of my college friends had horrible time management skills. Planning is a big factor that leads to success. A planner is very effective and efficient in providing you with direction. Planners are cheap and so helpful in a college setting. Having an up to date planner will ensure that you know exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. These time management skills will be so valuable to you even after you’re finished with your program/degree. These skills will be transferable to the work place and increase chances for success as you will not be caught of guard at any moment and will always be in control. The more you plan the less you stress. Also planning increases the likelihood of the task being completed. Think about this: a person who diets can’t just eat whatever they want everyday. So what many serious dieters do is meal prep at the beginning of each week (preparing multiple meals for the entire week on a designated day) so that they will stay on track with their diets and ensure that they are doing the right things to lose weight. Having a planner is one of the keys to academic success.
2. Utilize the Academic Success Center!
The academic success/support center is one of the most important resources to utilize throughout your academic career. Most colleges/universities have support centers available for their students. The problem is many students don’t take advantage of them. If you are struggling with a certain subject or need help writing or editing a research paper, this is the place you want to go. Sometimes people view receiving help from the support center as a disability or even embarrassing. Well let me ask you this, which situation (A) or (B) would you rather be in, (A) a student that goes to class and does everything on their own but earns a unsatisfactory grade, or (B) a student who utilizes the support center for their individual needs and passes the class with flying colors? If you chose (A) then you will need to put your pride aside and learn the material by any means necessary. If you chose (B) then you would not have an issue getting the assistance that you need to be successful and learn the required material. Your call!
Yes we all have our own group of friends that we interact with on a daily basis. That’s great, but it’s not enough. This ties in with planning. You will need to develop a bigger circle of people that you know. The reason is that there is only so much your immediate friends can do for you when you need help on a class project or even when it comes time to look for a job. You will need to put yourself out there so that you can build the necessary connections with important people that can make things happen for you. Start with teachers/professors. They will be the ones that will help you when it comes time for letters of recommendation. Also bear in mind that most professors have friends and family that work in corporations that might be in your field. It also doesn’t hurt to get on their good side either. I know people that have received an “A” in class when their actual grade was an 88%. Anything helps. Also get to know your classmates and meet people outside of class. A great place to get yourself out there and also build your resume is through student organizations. It’s a great way to make some friends all while doing something you enjoy. Overall, make sure to introduce yourself to everyone; you really never know who will need in life. Don’t burn bridges!
4.Develop Good Habits!
Bad habits are hard to quit; good habits are hard to start. In college mom and dad are not there holding your hand anymore. It is your time to be an adult and take responsibility for yourself. This means staying on top of classes as well as getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating right. Lets start with staying on top of classes. Go to class, follow the syllabus, make friends in class, and study all given material. Just remember you are tested on what is taught. Essentially the teacher is giving you all the weapons needed to be successful in the battlefield. Get enough sleep. Easier said then done, I know. But you must make an effort to make sure your body is getting the rest that it needs. You will feel better as a result. Exercising allows you to stay fit and healthy. Exercising also increases a chemical in your brain called dopamine, which puts you in a better emotional state. Lastly, eat right. Stay away from the processed stuff and look for fresh and healthier alternatives. You will be better off eating the right foods as they help keep your mental and physical health strong. It can’t be temporary; it needs to be a lifestyle. Practice makes perfect.
5. Study, Study, and Study some more!
Find a place where you are comfortable. This can be at the local coffee shop or in a private room in the library. Where ever it maybe, go there and get to work. You don’t magically get good grades. You must earn them. The way you earn them is by studying. Study the materials provided, use the Internet, use the academic support centers. You will need to have a good grasp of the material so that you can perform well on homework and exams. Develop a routine and make sure that you set a time in your planner on when studying needs to get done. Stick with the plan! The only person that can stop you from achieving your goals is yourself.
6. Most Importantly Have Fun!
This is a time in your life where you will learn a lot about yourself. This is the time to experience new things and meet people from all over the world. Find a school-life balance that will allow you to not only develop as a student but also as a person. They say college years are your golden years. Why let them go to waste?
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