By now, you’ve probably gotten your class schedule, your books, and your first hundred or so pages of assigned reading. Since your course load is mostly, if not completely, online, your first taste of college is likely not what you imagined. While there may be no football games or parties just yet (for most of you), there are plenty of other ways to take charge of your college experience. Here are a few suggestions for making the most out of your first month as a college student!
Attending virtual or in-person office hours is imperative to showing your professors or TAs that you take responsibility for your learning. You’re likely used to having your high school teachers checking in on you every so often; college professors tend to be more hands-off, especially at larger universities. Learning how to advocate for yourself will not only make a big difference in your college classes but also prepare you for post-college success.
There’s no doubt about it: online and independent learning for hours on end can be rough. Switch it up a little by emailing or chatting with other students you see in your classes to form study groups. This will provide some much-needed variety in your day, help you make connections, and create academic accountability.
One of the hardest-learned lessons in college is time management. From the outset, college classes take up only a fraction of the day. What new college students come to realize (usually slowly and/or painfully) is that there is a much larger homework workload in college than in high school. If you get behind in college, it’s hard to catch up, so stay ahead of your schedule by firmly scheduling—and sticking to—designated homework time. I recommend an hour-and a-half to two-hour chunks with ample breaks in between.
Burnout is real. Make sure you’re eating well, sleeping enough, and getting some outdoors time. Your eyes, brain, and soul need a break from the almighty Zoom. These are tough times, so take advantage of your university mental health services if you need someone to talk to.