What I wish I knew as an incoming first-year

Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER

Yes, you made it into college and you may have just moved into your dorm room or gotten your schedule of college courses for the fall. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the excitement of dorming and being called a college student. However, the struggle begins after those major moments such as actually living in the dorm and trying to pass classes. If you’ve lived in the residence halls, then you know of the honeymoon phase where everyone in the hall gets along and there are no issues.

  1. College is not like high school

This seems obvious, but when it comes to procrastination and study habits you’ll find that it’ll be almost impossible to pass a test that you only studied for the night before. You will most likely have gaps in between your classes and those gaps should be used for studying. You will most likely not be in classes all day like in high school. Hence, you won’t have to wait until after 4 p.m. to start working on your homework. Take advantage of that time. You will learn as the year goes on that time management is important in college and could make the difference between passing and failing a class.

  1. 8 a.m.

It’s a mystery how we used to wake up early Monday through Friday and attend class at 8 in the morning, because as many of you may discover it’s much harder to do so when you get to college. You might find that you are not a morning person and will struggle to get to an 8 a.m. class. You could also find that you like to wake up and start your day that early. The important part is to be honest and ask yourself if you will be able to wake up around 7 a.m. to get to your class at 8. There is no shame in taking classes in the afternoon.

You might also not want to take that 8 a.m. but it’s the only class that’s open. In that case, make sure you go to bed early in order to make it on time to class. Don’t forget that you are in charge of your sleep schedule now because no one is really going to make sure that you wake up for class.

  1. Go to office hours

You will look silly if you just show up to your professor or T.A.’s office hours without having something to talk about. Even if it’s just a small question about the class, that small question can help you break the ice and start a conversation with them. It is scary to talk to professors, especially one who has control over your grade. But the rest of your college and professional career will be defined by how well you can talk to other adults. You will also find that in order to get a letter of recommendation from a professor, they need to know who you are. So, start small. Go to office hours with a small question or comment, tell them your name, and they will begin to remember you. Doing that will help you practice for the next couple of years.

  1. Quarter vs. Semester

The quarter system moves fast. Before you know it you will take your first midterm and then your first final. On top of this, the information you learn in your classes might be hard to retain in time for exams. That’s why it is important to take time out of class to study and review the work covered so far.

  1. Responsibilities

Unless you are a commuter student, you will find yourself doing your own laundry, many of you for the first time. You will also be in charge of your nutrition either by cooking or by eating food from the dining hall. Although this seems small compared to classes, these things can add up. Not doing laundry for a month will leave you with no clothes unless you packed A LOT of clothes to last you that long. So, make sure to find time in your schedule to do laundry and to ask your parents or peers for help on doing laundry. Also make sure to fit nutritious foods into your meals. This could be accomplished by using a MyPlate plan or another similar food guide.

Your first year is an important moment in your life. You will learn how to essentially become an adult. While it may be easy to get carried away by the excitement of it, don’t forget that college is not easy. That doesn’t mean that it’s not fun. Be ready to grow and learn within the next few months.

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