It’s not unusual for teens and young adults to return unsolicited advice with a roll of the eyes or a glare followed by stony silence. Most of us aren’t big fans of being told what to do, especially if we never asked for someone’s opinion in the first place.
Even so, a little bit of well-meaning input from concerned parents, caring teachers, and upperclassmen who have “been there, done that” can help new college students avoid basic regrettable blunders. You might be annoyed to hear this stuff before you even start college, but knowing what to expect ahead of time might help avoid some frustration and stress down the road.
Some freshmen are tempted to register for six or seven classes their first semester of college simply because they were used to taking that many classes at once in high school. Not only are more advanced concepts covered in college, each class meets once or twice per week rather than every single day. That might seem like a great reason to take extra classes, but a lot of learning must be done on your own time.
Homework might be assigned, but it’s often just for extra practice—to help you understand things better. Final grades are typically calculated with test scores and term paper grades—no extra boost from points earned by doing homework. Most professors don’t go out of their way to remind students when things are due, and unless you ask for help, they assume you understand what is going on.
Taking too many college classes at once could be setting yourself up for failure. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. Start out gradually and see what you can reasonably handle. You can always sign up for more classes next semester if it turns out you can handle the pressure.
If you have a class that must meet in an auditorium because there are so many students, it’s a safe assumption that no one will notice if you don’t show up from time to time. Missing class because you’re truly sick is one thing; missing class because you just didn’t feel like getting out of bed is another.
Even though the entire point of going to college is to take classes, a lot of students skip class just because they were up late the night before. Poor attendance can easily cause your grades to drop quickly. You will miss important information that might be covered on an upcoming exam, and some professors take attendance and deduct points each time you don’t show up. Pop quizzes still happen in college, too. If you’re not there, you won’t have an opportunity to re-take it.
Putting off major assignments or studying for big tests until the last possible minute can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. You will probably do lower-quality work, too, because you are rushing under pressure. Some students even resort to cheating or plagiarizing—which are both cause for disciplinary action—out of fear of not finishing on time. Don’t procrastinate. It will backfire on you!
Buy a day planner or take advantage of Google Calendar or a similar program. Keep track of when things are due, and plan accordingly. In college, time management is your friend.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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