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How To Survive Your First Semester Of College

by Tim Brunicardi on October 31, 2017

Whether you’re fresh out of high school, or you’re entering college after time spent working or raising a family, making the transition to college life can be a challenge. It’s a whole different world, and there’s a lot to learn in addition to your academic studies.

Not sure where to start? Try these tips to survive your first semester of college.

Tip 1: Stay in Touch With Your Advisor

Every college has its own set of rules about what courses you need to take to graduate, and different departments within your school may have additional requirements.

To keep it all straight so you take the classes you need to graduate on time, schedule an appointment with your advisor and take good notes about their advice.

They’ll be able to help you select courses, design your schedule, and understand what prerequisites you need to meet your goals.

Tip 2: Take Advantage of Office Hours

Unlike high school, where you may have been able to chat with your teacher any time after school, most college instructors have office hours during which they’re available to students.

If there’s something you don’t understand about the class or you feel you need extra help on, show up and ask. This is the time to get the help, and making an appearance in person shows that you’re committed to doing your best.

Tip 3: Carve Out Extra Study Time

survive your first semester of collegeCollege courses are more challenging than high school classes, and they often require you to do plenty of reading and writing on your own. 

There are plenty of college study hacks and tips for writing a research paper out there, but the biggest way to succeed is to just make time in your day for it. To do well, you’ll need to set aside enough time to get all of that work done.

Try to arrange your schedule to include quiet time each day to keep up with your work, and resist the temptation to put off studying until the night before an exam.

Tip 4: Stay Healthy and Active

All that extra studying can mean time spent sitting still, and studies show that the average first-year college student gains about 10 pounds. As you adjust to your new routine, be sure to include time to exercise as well.

You may be able to take advantage of gym facilities at school, or you could simply park far from your class buildings and walk. Do your best to make healthy choices in the cafeteria, too. If you're looking for ideas, use these dining hall hacks to stay healthy in college. 

Tip 5: Ask for Help When You Need It

If you’re feeling stressed about your new course load or extra responsibilities, seek help. Most colleges offer campus health services and can point you in the direction of a therapist or counselor to help you work through emotional issues you may be experiencing.

Mental health problems among college students can include everything from anxiety and depression, to addiction and eating disorders, but you don’t need to struggle alone.

Tip 6: Find Your People

One of the most exciting parts of your first semester of college is meeting new people and encountering a whole new range of ideas. It can also feel lonely at first, and that’s okay.

It takes a bit of time to find your place at a new school, but you can start to build strong relationships by checking out clubs, intramural sports, and elective courses where you’re likely to meet people who share your interests and ideals.

The first semester of college is a whirlwind of new experiences, but all of that change can feel stressful instead of fun if you aren't prepared. Go easy on yourself and follow these tips to get the most out of your time, and by second semester, you’ll feel like you’ve always belonged on campus.

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