So you just got into college and you want to have a good time, but you would like people to take you seriously. You must get good grades, especially if you are a scholarship student, so it will be necessary for you to know how to balance your social life with your academic life. You should also make sure you are prepared for the world after college. If all that seems like a lot of responsibility and effort, it is. Luckily, with a little planning and knowledge, you can make your college career a success.
Part 1 of 3: Develop New Skills
Step 1. Meet new people
It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed by all this, especially if you have just entered a very large university. However, don't let that fact stop you from making new friends. College is a place where you can meet a wide variety of diverse and unique people, so embrace the novelty. Keep in mind that you are most likely not the only one feeling a little nervous about making new friends.
- Attend meetings and events, especially those specially organized for incoming students. These occasions are great for meeting people who have not yet acclimatized to college life. In this way, you will feel more relaxed and you will meet many people who are in the same situation.
- Introduce yourself to people who are in the same bedroom as you. When you're in your room, hold the door together to encourage others to come by and greet you.
- Even if you only know one person, ask them to introduce you to friends they think can get along with you. In this way, you will create bonds of friendship quite quickly.
- Join a club or society. Joining a fraternity or sorority is a common way to quickly make new friends, but it is not the only way. College provides you with a wealth of opportunities to get involved in something that you enjoy. For example, religious organizations, clubs, interest societies, sports teams, and academic groups provide opportunities to meet like-minded people.
Step 2. Volunteer
Volunteering is sometimes necessary as part of the college curriculum, but even when it isn't, it will allow you to meet lots of people. Plus, it gives you the added benefit of looking great on a resume and teaching you valuable skills that you can use in your job search after graduation.
- Many colleges have volunteer coordinators or "service learning" offices that can connect you with volunteer opportunities tailored to your interests and abilities.
- Volunteering can also broaden your perspective to new career possibilities and passions. For example, volunteering at an animal shelter could allow you to discover a passion for caring for animals and a desire to become a veterinarian. Of course, you won't know until you try.
Step 3. Find something that you are passionate about
College is a great place to try new things, so try the wide range of opportunities available to you. Have you always had a passion for acting? You can audition for a play or join an improv group. Have you always kept your desire to dance flamenco a secret? Take a class. Maybe you always thought it would be cool to become a writer, so join a literary magazine or academic newspaper.
Remember that you will not become an expert in every field you try, but that is normal! College is an amazing place to embrace vulnerability and try new things, even if you're not very experienced at it
Step 4. Make a portfolio while you are in college
You may not have a clue about the career path you want to study, something that is normal during the first year of college. However, the less time you take to make a decision, the sooner you can direct your college experience toward your chosen goal. This does not mean that everything in college should be related to your future plans, but you should keep them in mind when making decisions.
- Choose classes (even electives) that give you the knowledge and experience necessary for your career.
- Don't be afraid to accept new experiences. Of course, you might think that a poetry class will not help you with your career in advertising, but it will actually encourage your creativity and expression, characteristics necessary to be successful in that field.
- Save projects or documents that you are really proud of. They can serve as proof of your trading skills, such as your ability to communicate clearly or solve complex problems.
Step 5. Pick a career that you love
It will be very difficult for you to do something well that you do not like. Therefore, choosing a career should not be related to money or the expectations of your parents. You are already an adult, and part of that means making momentous decisions for your life.
- Talk to an academic advisor. Go to the vocational guidance center and gather all the information you need to know everything that your career implies and what opportunities you can have after graduating.
- Unfortunately, people often look down on humanities or arts majors (eg languages, philosophy, theater, etc.) by saying things like "You will never get a job if you study that." Well, they are wrong, because part of college teaching is learning to become a fully developed and focused human being. Arts and humanities majors foster important skills such as critical thinking, creative problem solving, analysis, innovation, and reflection. You may be surprised to find out how many jobs you can get with skills like these (if you have any questions, check the lists of the most requested jobs in the world). Choose something that you are passionate about, even if it is a career in Accounting or Zooogy.
Step 6. Keep in mind that it is not your right to get good grades
Some students attend college with the idea that they are entitled to good grades or special treatment. Consequently, they get angry when they fail on a test and blame teachers for their failure instead of analyzing the things they need to do. Do not be one of them and keep in mind that it is not your right to obtain perfect grades or have a schedule of only three hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Take responsibility for your own actions. Accept your mistakes, and strive to improve for the next time. Don't blame anyone for your actions, not even your classmates, friends, roommate, or your teacher.
- Remember that your teachers are not required to give you special treatment. Even if you are an excellent student in general terms, your teachers do not have to be permissive with you so that you miss classes or lower your performance in classes. Don't beg them to change your grade or make special exceptions with you.
- Don't take rejection personally. A teacher or someone who rejects your request does not do so because they have something against you. Sometimes you will ask for things you can't get, which is a part of adulthood (actually, not a very fun part). However, don't take it personally and don't be pushy if they've already told you no.
Step 7. Accept failure
Part of becoming a successful college student is accepting that things don't always work out the way you want them to. Know that you will not be good at everything and that you will make mistakes, even big ones. You will have experiences that are a total failure, but do not consider it as evidence that you are a failure, but as opportunities to grow as a person.
- Discard your perfectionist tendencies. You may think it's a sign of ambition or a strong work ethic, but perfectionism can hinder your success and happiness. It can arise from the fear of appearing weak or vulnerable, holding you to unrealistic standards as well as making you interpret anything less than perfect as a "failure." It can even lead to procrastination due to the great fear you feel about not being able to do a perfect job. Keep in mind that nobody is perfect; not Lady Gaga, George Takei or Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Neither are you and that's fine.
- Reframe challenges and setbacks as learning experiences. If you apply to a sports team and can't get in, don't assume you're a failure. Ask your coach if they can give you some feedback so you know what skills to improve. You can learn from all experiences no matter how unpleasant they are.
Part 2 of 3: Have Excellent Academic Performance
Step 1. Don't overload yourself
For some students, using as many credits as possible each semester is a source of pride, but it is also a terrible idea. Have you heard the saying "He who covers a lot little squeezes"? If you cover a lot of classes, you won't have the energy or time to perform well in all of them.
Enroll in 4-5 classes each semester. If you really want to enroll in more, check with your counselor, as they will generally be aware of the workload that the courses have and will know if you can really take care of all of them
Step 2. Introduce yourself to your teachers
Knowing your teachers will not only help you in your courses, but it will also give you the possibility to ask them for recommendations later. A teacher will be able to write a better letter of recommendation if he knows you a little better.
- Find at least one teacher or faculty member who can be your mentor (at some colleges, you may be assigned a mentor or advisor).
- If you have introduced yourself to your teachers, it will be easier for you to ask them questions and talk to them.
Step 3. Ask about research opportunities
This is particularly important if you are studying for a science-related career. It is never too early to start, especially if you plan to attend graduate school or medical school. Talk to your teachers about opportunities for undergraduates who want to participate in research.
You could even land a paid position as a research or laboratory assistant
Step 4. Create a study place
It is very important that you have a place dedicated to study. Trying to do all of your homework in a public place or in your bed will keep you from concentrating enough to be truly productive. If you have a place specifically dedicated to studying, you will be more likely to study when you are in it, which will also allow you to have fun and relax when you are elsewhere.
- If you don't have a place to study other than a shared space, at least block out distractions. Wear noise-canceling headphones or listen to instrumental, relaxing, or white noise music.
- It may be helpful to have multiple study locations. If you get distracted or bored in one of them, go to the other. Some good places are the quiet coffee shops and the library.
Step 5. Get organized
This is extremely important. If you go to college full time, you will probably have 4-5 classes, each with its own assignments and deadlines. You may also have other responsibilities, such as work, volunteering, social obligations, and athletic activities. Keeping up with all of these activities takes a bit of effort, but it has its benefits.
- Get an agenda! You can use a small notebook or the calendar on your phone, but try to write everything in your planner as soon as you know it. With electronic calendars (eg Google Calendars), you can even set reminders about important events. You can set categories by color (eg athletics, homework, social events, etc.) if it is useful to you. Having everything in writing will also let you know if you have potential problems that need to be solved (eg the team you are playing for will have an out of town game on the same day you have an exam).
- Organize the material by class. Have a location on your shelf or desk where you can put the most important things. You do not forget the place where the books, documents, etc. are located. and try to use a neat folder for each class. Put the tasks in the respective folder to avoid losing them.
- If you are going to follow a class with online components, be sure to log into the virtual platform regularly. Teachers typically post virtual ads that you might miss if you don't check back often.
Step 6. Read the syllabus for each course
The curriculum is the holy grail when it comes to the information for each course. There you will find the tasks that you will have, the deadlines in which you will have to deliver them and the score that each one of them has. Read it thoroughly during the first week of school and copy important dates onto your planner or calendar.
If there is something that raises questions, ask immediately. It is very important to clear up any doubts before you spend a lot of time doing something wrong
Step 7. Go to class
This seems like a fairly straightforward thing, but it can be tempting to skip classes, especially during theory classes where attendance is not recorded. Avoid doing so, as you will lose valuable information and notices. Also, you go to college because you hope to get an education; What's the point if there's something you don't like to learn?
- If your class has few members, the teacher will notice your absence, even if he does nothing against you. If you don't seem committed to the course, the teacher may not be willing to help you.
- If you need motivation, consider calculating the cost of an hour of class. Suppose you study at Harvard University, where tuition and fees cost $ 45,278 a year. If you take five courses per semester (full-time), then each class costs about $ 4,527,80. In the typical 16-week semester, that means $ 282,98 a week, $ 94,32 per hour in a three-class-per-week course. Is that afternoon nap really worth as much as a hundred bucks? Most likely not.
Step 8. Do your homework
Homework can seem like a big waste of time, especially if it's not a big part of your grade. However, teachers do not give them just for the fun of it. Generally, these assignments teach important concepts and skills that will help you complete larger tasks, such as tests or essays, so keep doing them.
Step 9. Learn to write good notes
Your ability to make useful annotations will have a direct impact on your study ability for exams and will allow you to get good grades. To do this, you need to be an active participant in class, listen to the words of the teacher and determine the important points.
- You may be tempted to jot down on your new laptop, but research shows that you are more likely to remember things if you use the typical pencil and paper.
- Write down everything the teacher writes on the board, as it will probably be mentioned later. Pay attention to whatever the teacher emphasizes or spends the most time on.
- Find out if the teacher will post the slides online. If so, print them out in advance and supplement them with your own annotations instead of copying all the information present in them.
- Don't try to use complete sentences. Use keywords and phrases to get the big picture. However, avoid using too many abbreviations or shortcuts that you cannot interpret later.
- Most colleges provide some type of academic support or counseling center. These centers typically provide brochures and classes that help you develop better note-taking and study skills. Don't miss out on these resources!
Step 10. Study
You may have gone through the entire school period without studying hard, but college is completely different. If you don't develop sensible study habits, you could become overwhelmed by workload and class failures.
- Use your free time wisely! If you have an hour or two to spare before the next class, go to the library and study a little. Dividing up your study sessions will allow you to study more easily than doing it all in one go. Also, you are more likely to remember class material.
- Determine your study style. You may find it easier to learn visually, in which case you might find it helpful to use flowcharts or charts, or even picture charts. On the other hand, it is likely that you better grasp the information through the ear, in which case the most useful thing for you could be to listen to the classes or talk to yourself about the topics covered. Determine the learning techniques that are best for you and use them.
- On the Internet, you can find inventories of learning styles for free. Your university's academic resource center may also have some of these inventories that you can refer to.
- Plan to study two hours a week for every hour you spend in class. If you have classes for twelve hours a week (the usual if you take four courses), you will need to spend about 24 hours a week studying. It works!
- Remember that you are in college to gain information and develop skills. Your ability to get a job may depend on how well you know what you transcribed in class. The only way to develop those skills is through study.
Step 11. Take advantage of additional credits
Teachers are not required to offer additional credits, but if yours does, take advantage of them! This can be a great way to improve your grades if you don't fully trust your academic performance.
- It starts soon. Don't wait until the last possible opportunity to earn additional credits. You never know what might come up that makes you lose them.
- If you are really concerned about your academic performance, talk to your teacher about earning additional credits to improve your grades. There is the possibility that they will give you a negative answer (they do not have to give you the credits), but it never hurts to ask them nicely.
Step 12. Use available resources
College students have a wealth of resources at their disposal to help ensure their success. Find out what support services and resources you can use. Avoid feeling "weak" or embarrassed if you need to ask for help. It takes strength and courage to admit that you have problems.
- Most colleges have a tutoring or writing center. If you're having trouble with a topic or need help with some type of writing, turn to these resources! They are generally free, and the tutors are specialized in helping people with academic problems, so they will not judge or belittle you.
- Colleges typically have a career training center that can help you improve your resume, practice your skills in job interviews, search for work or volunteer opportunities, and help you plan your future career.
- Don't forget the libraries! Librarians have a more important role than just ordering books throughout the day. They are trained to identify useful and credible research sources and to use them in your projects. Contact your university library to schedule a consultation with the librarian. You will be surprised with all the resources it can provide you.
- Check with your university's academic support center (perhaps your study center has a different name). Typically, this center will offer classes, counseling, counseling, tutoring, etc. that can help you with your study skills, note taking, time management, workload management and many other aspects of student life.
Part 3 of 3: Make Good Decisions
Step 1. Apply for a loan only for what you need
Some intense lenders will loan you more than you need. Although now it may seem like “free money”, don't forget that you will have to pay in full for everything you have asked for at the university. Therefore, do not get involved in a huge debt that you will have to pay until your old age.
- You do not have to accept the full amount of money they offer you. You can ask for what is necessary to cover only your legitimate expenses.
- If you need to apply for a private loan, it is recommended that you look for the lowest interest rates. You may find that you can get a more competitive interest rate by asking your parents or a responsible adult to co-sign the loan. However, be very careful, as a co-signer will be responsible for the debt if you cannot pay it off.
Step 2. Consider getting a part-time job
Having a job will not only allow you to cover expenses without having to fill up with student loan debt, but it will also help you have a better resume after graduation. Check with your college's financial aid office to see if you qualify for the work-study program, which will allow you to pay your tuition with your job.
If possible, look for a job that includes some transferable skills. For example, working in the receptionist position at your university will not be very interesting, but you can use some of those skills (eg organization and management of software) for future jobs of greater responsibility
Step 3. Be in good health
College can be very stressful, so it can be easy to neglect your emotional, physical, or mental health. Don't let your general well-being be affected by negligence. So maintaining a healthy exercise regimen, eating well, getting enough sleep, and seeking advice will help you stay healthy.
- Setting aside time to exercise will help you feel healthy and positive, as well as keep you from gaining weight during your early college years. Aim for moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. Remember that small changes add up, so choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk around campus instead of taking the bus or driving.
- Eat a healthy diet. With unlimited dinners and coffee shops open 24 hours a day, it can be very tempting to eat only chicken wings and smoothies during college time. Try to have a balanced diet that provides you with the nutrition you need to perform at your best. Limit your intake of sugar and highly processed foods, and be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, pay attention to your snacking habits, as they usually contain only empty calories that add up quickly.
- Develop healthy sleep habits. Plan your schedules in advance so that you don't stay studying until late at night studying. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day (even on weekends!). Also, avoid consuming alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine about four hours before going to bed. Lastly, get enough sleep, keeping in mind that teens need up to 10 hours of sleep each night.
- Seek counseling when you need it. The first year of college can be a stressful and even scary experience. Don't be afraid to go to your college's counseling center, as a counselor can teach you skills to manage your time and deal with stress, as well as help you with relationship problems and listen to you when you need to express your sorrows. Don't wait until you're overwhelmed! As with your teeth, to have good mental health, it is necessary to give preventive care in order to keep yourself in optimal shape.
Step 4. Consider postponing your membership in a fraternity
If your university has a fraternity, you may want to join it. However, the large number of obligations and time commitments can cause the first semester to be ruined faster than the sinking of the Titanic. Research has revealed that your score can drop by 5-8% if you join a fraternity. It is best to wait until the second semester or even the following year, when you can better manage your life and your duties.
If you join a fraternity during the first semester, opt for an academic one. These fraternities are generally more study-oriented and may even focus on a specific academic subject, which can help you meet people compatible with your career
Step 5. Learn to prioritize
In college, you will have many obligations that may seem extremely important. Therefore, learning to prioritize your commitments and responsibilities will help you achieve a balance between your life and your duties.
- Consider what you need and what will give you the most benefit.
- Sometimes you will have to prioritize studying for an important exam over going out with your friends, since you need more time to study. However, there will be other times when you need a mental break, so spending an hour or two playing a video game or drinking coffee with your friends will be just what you need to relax. Learn to determine what you really need.
Step 6. Never give up
This is very useful advice in college. Don't let setbacks or mistakes hold you back. Get well and keep pursuing your goals. Remember that the only surefire way to fail is to stop trying.
This applies to individual classes as well as to life in general. If you're not doing very well in class, you may want to stop pushing yourself. Do not do it! Of course, you probably won't be able to bounce back and get an excellent grade if your grades aren't very good until the middle of the semester, but giving up will only go from bad to worse. Push yourself a little and at least you will have the assurance that you will not fail the course
- If possible, don't get a job during your freshman year of college. During this year, you should have the opportunity to explore clubs, social groups, and have fun. Do not spend it working in the cafeteria, because later you will regret not having enough time to spend it with your new best friends.
- Do your best to get high grades your freshman year of college. It is very easy to lower your GPA, but it is extremely difficult to raise it again. Classes will most likely get more difficult over time and you will be busier. So starting with a high GPA will increase your chances of staying above average by the time you graduate.
- Only apply for one or two internships. While it can make a very good impression to have a lot of work experience in various places, employers will not be very impressed by this. On the contrary, when looking for internships, apply to places where you visualize yourself working after graduation. Later, when you apply for a full-time job after college, you'll be remembered and likely have more hiring opportunities than others without experience with that company or organization.
- Try to properly balance fun and hard work.
- Move into an apartment as soon as possible. Life off campus is amazing. Just as bedrooms are fun and give you a great way to meet new people, having your own bedroom, kitchen, and living room is so much better. Problems with your roommate during your first year will be significantly reduced when you move into an apartment and have your own room. In short, you will have more privacy and fewer problems. If you are sociable, you will not need to live in the dormitories to meet people, because you can find them and they will find you.
- Meet your teachers. They are an excellent source of information and can be great mentors. They have experience in the field you are studying as well as connections and they can also guide you in the right direction. What is even more important is that they are also people. On many occasions, students create a wall between themselves and teachers, only viewing them as a source for answering questions and getting grades. However, if you start to see them without labeling them that way, you might be surprised at how much they have in common. They are more than just machines for answering questions, so make an effort to learn more about them.
- Become a member of the council. On many occasions, students join organizations and clubs but end up leaving them because they don't feel as involved or contribute as much as they should. Become an active social media participant, event coordinator, or funder. No matter what your role in the organization is, not only stay a mere spectator, but adopt a role and become someone with a presence in the group.