Here we are coming up on a new semester and as usual there are things that can challenge us differently each year. Whether it’s the fall, spring or summer semesters it is a time for everyone to try their best to be their best.
For some this is going to be their first time away, from family, from friends and from their home. But that doesn’t mean the challenges they will be facing will be insurmountable. For others it’s one step closer to their goal. Whether that is graduation, or writing that next big paper.
No matter what you are going to be facing this semester, there are things you can do to make sure you start it off right and keep the momentum going.
Time Management is crucial!
One of the biggest differences with college is that is a bigger balancing game than high school ever was, unless you kept yourself on a very tight schedule. (I never did) So one of the biggest favors you’ll be doing yourself is to learn how to manage your time wisely. Unlike in high school, you won’t have your parents and teachers reminding you to do your homework. You are on your own to remember everything that is due and when bills need to be paid.
One way to do this is to use a planner, now whether this is a physical planner (my favorite is the Happy Planner) or an app that you can access across all your devices is up to you, but having a central place to have what is due when is a lifesaver.
I personally use both, I created an assignment spreadsheet that tracks when my assignments are due and what grades I’m getting on them, what reading I need for class and if their are any scheduled meetings with professors that need to be kept. I did this on google spreadsheets because I can update and change it right from my phone.
For my planner, I also write down when my assignments are due, but I work out a schedule that works with my day job(s) and with a study and reading schedule that needs to be kept with getting a master’s degree. (note: if I don’t schedule study time then I don’t usually do it)
Now depending on how you take notes (I hand write mine when I take them because I’m less distracted this way and most of my professors did not allow technology in their classrooms.) you may want to set time aside to re-write your notes. Whether you type them up or just hand write them again so that you know what you wrote. (I can’t be the only one who can’t read my own handwriting on some of my notes days later.) This makes it easier to revise for exams later.
Another great perk of having a planner and scheduling study time, is that you know when you have free time and you can make sure you have a life outside of school. It is also less daunting than looking at all your assignments and not seeing anything else. With them spread out on a planner they look much more manageable.
There are of course ways to make your schedule much easier to manage. That way you can enjoy your time as a college student.
- Depending on how long you want to spend doing things, or if you want to have a long day on campus, try and schedule your classes to where you have breaks throughout the day. Then during the breaks take care of the homework or assignments for each class. Then you can schedule yourself free time in the evenings.
- Do not wait till the last minute to cram or study for exams. As tedious as it is your should be preparing for it from when you get the information.
- Remembering everything you’ve heard in lectures is not what you should count on, instead take notes and then when you get home re-write them so that you understand them better. It has also been said that hand writing your notes rather than typing them is a way to better retain the information.
- Prioritize! Always do the most important task first then go on from there.
- Try to take a break when studying. I have found that setting an alarm for 45 minutes and then taking a short 10 to 15 minute break makes for better study sessions.
Take On Those Offered Experiences!
I’ve had a few instances where I was offered internships and volunteer opportunities that were amazing. Paid or not these opportunities offer experiences that you can’t get from a book. First hand knowledge that can help you in your chosen field or even help you understand where your true passion is.
I have always known that I love history, however, I was given a chance to intern (not paid) at a Museum of Science and History in Corpus Christi. Not only did I get experience, but I also got school credit and a contact in the Museum work world.
What most students fail to understand is that even though you have (or will have) that degree, without experience in the field most jobs will not higher you. That is what internships and volunteering is good for.
Most interviewers will ask you about your experience and not about what your academic background is.
So without being able to answer those types of questions it will be hard to show that you are the person they want for the job. The experience to academics ratio is tilted towards the experience side for most if not all jobs.
Very few job descriptions will list experience as a requirement, but that does not mean that they will not go towards the person with the experience and no degree over the one with the degree but no experience.
Just remember that your first job out of college is rarely the one that you will want to stay at forever, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t take it. Take the job while you are looking for the one you really want and get the experience that you will be needing to land it.
A good way to start this off and gain the experience you will be needing at a later date is to apply for those internships and volunteer opportunities, or even if you can find a part-time job that is in your field, at least you will know if that is what you really want to do.
Try your hardest to get good grades first!
Most students are under the impression that if they get a low grade then they can always make it up later on during the semester. This is the worst way of thinking and it can get you into trouble, because before you know it the middle and end of the semester will sneak up on you and it’ll be too late.
Focus on starting off right, put in the study time and get it right the first time. This will save you a ton of stress in the long run.