January 22, 2018

How to do Well Your First Semester of College

Coming to college, I was very worried about what the workload would be like, the structure and difficulty of my classes, and ultimately what I would have to do to do well academically. Honestly, I was very surprised by how manageable my first semester was, though I know that was not the case for everyone. Fall semester I took Calculus, American Government, Philosophy, Global education, and Elon 101, a required freshman course.

My most difficult class was hands down calculus. I am not a math person and this class just affirmed that. I have never worked so hard in a class, and it ultimately paid off, although there were a few bumps in the road. My first exam in this class I got a 67. I was crushed, it was the worst grade I had ever received on a test, I studied for days, went to the tutoring center, watched videos, you name it, I did it. After calling my mom in tears, I got my sh*t together and decided that calculus would be my priority for the semester as my other courses were not particularly difficult for me. After using all my resources and really putting in a lot of time with my professor and tutors, I was able to get an A on the final exam and a B+ in the class. It ended up being my worst class, however I was extremely proud of how far I came from my first exam and know I did my absolute best. Although the class tested me and drove me crazy at times, it taught me a lot of valuable lessons about how to do well in college, especially when it is a challenge to do so.

Go to office hours // The second you get to college, everyone is going to tell you to go to your professors office hours, take this advice. I went to every single one of my professors' office hours first semester and I could not recommend it more, even if its just to ask a simple question or to get to know them. I went to my calculus professor's office hours for conceptual problems and to go over specific problems, and I took a bunch of my papers to my other professor's to make sure I was on the right track. Elon has small classes, they cap at 34, so I have no lecture classes. However, if you go to a big school, I think going to office hours is even more essential as you can get to know them and develop a relationship you will not get in the class. At least at Elon, grades are not rounded at the end of the semester, so if you had a 92.8 in a class you would get an A-, not an A. If your professor knows you put in a lot of work, they might bump your grade which is always a plus, and going to office hours will definitely increase your chances of this happening.

Use your resources // Most colleges have peer tutoring or a writing center to help you edit papers. At Elon, every time you visit one of these places they email you professor saying what you worked on, so they know you are putting in the extra work outside of class. Going to tutoring saved me in calculus, and although I would consider writing one of my strengths, I try to always bring my completed papers to the writing center to get some final feedback and edits before I submit it.

Find a study buddy // Try to find at least one person in each of your classes that you can work with. Its great to have someone to text if you are confused about homework, or to get together with to study  before a big exam. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and getting an additional student's perspective is extremely beneficial.

Study over the course of a few days // Studying for an exam solely the night before in college simply will not work. If you know you have an exam or big paper due soon, space out your time and do a little bit everyday, this will save your sleep schedule and make your work much more manageable.

Watch videos // Sometimes the way your professor explains things just will not make sense, no matter how much you go over your notes. I found that watching Khan Academy videos is super helpful and just brings a new perspective and teaching style into your studying. This is also a great way to watch up if you were absent for a class.

Prioritize // At college there is some social event happening almost every night, and in addition to that you are living with a ton of other people which can get distracting. Know your deadlines. If you know you have an exam or a paper due on Friday, don't go out on Thursday night, or get it done in advance. Missing a party is not the end of the world, there will be more, and you are ultimately at college to go to school and get a degree.


xoxo,
Catherine 

Preppy by the Sea


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