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How to Succeed in College: A College Students How to Guide for Your Freshman Year and Then Some

So you just got accepted into college…now what?

After all of the goodbye hugs, congratulations, and prom festivities die down, you then turn your attention to a letter that promises you a world of possibilities.

This one letter has helped you choose a path that has begun your map of the next four years.  Within a couple of months you will be on your way to college with your car packed up and ready to move in.

There are two scary parts of this next step, making new friends…and the dreaded first day of school. Don’t worry about making new friends; everyone else is in the same boat, as long as your nice you are sure to make friends. Now the first day of school…your first class will of course be the most nerve wracking…this is your very first impression of college academics after all.

Now not to scare you off but there are some major differences between high school academics and college…here are a few:

  • In high school one of the things that is usually seen in classrooms is disruptive behavior, and then teachers obviously correcting it…in college you really don’t see any of that, you’re expected to take responsibility for your actions. If you don’t want to be there…then you don’t have to go
  • In high school, teachers give you detail steps of reading assignments and then go over every detail you should have noted…in college, professors hope that you’ve already gained the experience of knowing how to pick out the important facts while reading. They may go over it…but they won’t tell you directly what to write, you have to figure it out for yourself.
  • High school lessons are usually parroted back to the teacher in the way they were taught, while in college the skills you are taught are applied to new situations or to solve different problems.
  • Although in high school you do get grades based on your work, a good percentage of it is based on the effort and/or improvement you have made within the class, in college (for most professors) it is merely based on results.
  • In high school you have the limited ability to pick classes, they are lined out for you and the times you have to take them are pretty much set. In college you can take anything you want from pottery to psychology of personality. The sky is the limit.  And within college you can take a class at what ever time you want to…if you want your days to end at 11:30 they can, or if you are a late riser have them start at 12:00. Whatever time you thrive at, that’s when your classes can be.

Here is a complete chart of some more differences.

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Another thing a lot of freshmen have to deal with is adjusting to the difference in academics as well as the life style of college. I really didn’t have a problem adjusting to the difference between high school and college; I took a lot of honors courses and never relied on teachers to give me every bit of detail. I think the toughest part for me was knowing how to manage my time between classes.My first semester I ended up with a lot of breaks before and after classes, and I wasn’t really sure what to do with them; I slowly learned the advantage bigger breaks give you, such as having more time to get that essay that is due by 4 finished before your second class.

Here are some tips to get you out the door:

I was fortunate enough to have befriended upperclassmen my first year, they taught me which professors to avoid, how I should be spending my critical down time and helped me wipe that newbie look right off my face. Hopefully I will be able to do the same for you:

  • Never buy your books before your first class, unless your professor insists on it.
  • Be the one to always raise your hand, sit in the front, and ask questions…you will get the A’s
  • Don’t go too fast, you may burn out before the year is done
  • Don’t be afraid to withdraw from a class…it may help you in the end
  • Take two weeks before you dive into other activities, it’s important you can handle your classes before you start saving the world
  • Take fun classes ex. Piano, Ballroom, Aerobics, Bad mitten. Etc They will help you to wind down after a stressful day.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to your professor, it will benefit you.
  • Be friendly with the people in your dorm, these will be your peers for the next four years
  • There are many places to study, make sure to find a nice quiet one, disconnect from the Internet (Facebook will distract you more than you think), and start to study. All of the hours you put in will pay off when you have a nice 4.0 at the end of the semester.
  • A planner, or online event calendar will help you schedule all your essays, test and quizzes…and of course social life activities too!
  • Don’t forget to enjoy college, live it up…the next four years will be some of the best years of your life.

Every college experience is different; I just hope I’ve provided you with some information to help make your first day less scary.

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