You may be surprised to learn that many students fail academically or don’t return after their first year of college. Distance, workload, financial difficulties and numerous other factors take part in this high college dropout rate.
As you should remain prepared to make adjustments for your first year of college, here are some of the challenges you may face and what you can do to overcome and ace your first semester.
1. Open to New Experiences & New Friends
When you get to college, you may find it difficult to remain close to your high school friends as you would no longer share the same experiences, especially if you’re in different universities.
It’s difficult to make friends right away, but you can attend a college orientation to get a taste of campus life, receive answers to your questions and make friends through activities.
You also get the chance to meet non-students, faculty, academic advisors and the dean. Forming a good network of friends and resources from all walks of campus life can be most influential academically and can prevent homesickness.
To gain a sense of belonging, you can also get involved in extracurricular activities along the way. Every semester, students have the opportunity to learn about the clubs ranging from sports to Greek life that their colleges offer. If you are not open to devoting to a club, there’s also the option to volunteer for particular events that require a helping hand.
It’s important to meet new people and connect to combat the loneliness of that tough first year.
2. Making Use of Resources
Now that you know where to find academic help, get acquainted with your resources.
Take advantage of open office hours to speak one-on-one with your professors to receive clarification or get a better understanding of an assignment you don’t feel as confident about. This begins a great relationship that can be useful in the long run, from offering you a job as a teacher assistant to writing you a letter of recommendation for a future opportunity.
Similarly, your adviser plays a major role in student success.
Advisors assist with selecting your classes that guarantee you graduate on time or better yet, earlier than expected. They openly give you a layout of all the centers within the college that are dedicated to helping students, study resources located in the library and tutoring access for anyone who may be in need.
Unlike high school, no one will come to you knowing that you need help; it is up to you to reach out for help, whether you require academic assistance, financial advice or emotional counseling.
Communicating with other students can also give a better hands-on understanding. This can be for group projects or just something as simple as breaking down what the assignment is asking for you to do.
Being able to convey ideas clearly and work collaboratively, polishes your social skills and presents yourself in a manner where you and your classmates can support one another better.
3. Memorizing Facts vs. Conceptual Thinking
Rather than memorizing facts and formulas for a test, the college-level of work demands you to think through a problem to understand the concept and then apply it to other problems. High school teachers, in effect, are not only in charge of their student’s learning but also carefully guide them through it.
In high school, students go from class to class with the same group of students, the majority of their work is done in class and quizzes and tests are given days after. You also can’t forget the study guides they give you that pretty much mirror the exact content you’ll see on the test.
Meanwhile, in college, you are handed a syllabus on the first day of classes, you receive one reminder of an upcoming test and a warning to get up in time for your 8 a.m. You probably will be tested on all of your assigned readings, whether it was discussed in class or not, and it’s up to you to put in hours of study outside of the class environment.
Your learning at college has to be self-directed with assistance when needed or you might not get too far into college.
4. Time Management
Anyone will tell you balancing the academic and social demands of college can be strenuous. Too much or not enough of either can throw you off balance.
Time management is an essential tool that consists of making a schedule that’ll help you stay organized and complete tasks in an orderly fashion. Using a calendar or a day planner to write down test dates, when papers or projects are due, appointments, study hours and free time can avoid the start of a downhill spiral.
As a student, it’s notoriously challenging to catch up academically once you’ve fallen behind, but preventing the slip from the start is what will ensure success.
5. Staying Positive & Safe
It’s normal to realize that you’ll make mistakes and go through a series of trials and tribulations, but when you do, don’t dwell on it. Treat it as though you’re starting over on a new slate.
There’s a high chance that you will be a different person, with different friends and have different interests after your first year in college. You may even break up with your high school sweetheart or transfer to a completely different college. With growth, you’ll never be the same person you once were.
Keep in mind those around you are experiencing change as well. Changes are good.
Getting ready for your first year of college sounds stressful, but your college journey doesn’t have to end after freshman year. If you follow these tips, you will be off to a good start in college. Take it from a college senior.