Give yourself time to adjust
Everyone told me not to overschedule my first semester at college, but I didnt listen. Id always been busy in high school; I should have no problem taking 20 credits, playing clarinet in the marching band, and keeping up my dance training five to six days a week, right?
Wrong. Moving to college is a huge adjustment, and my first semester was miserable. I didnt have time to go out on weekends or make good friends. I was constantly stressed about school, although looking back, my classes were pretty easy.
Its important to get involved on campus: join an intramural sports team, write for the paper, or become an activist. However, dont try to take on too much at once get your bearings first.
Schedule morning classes
I wont lie: 8 a.m. classes are pretty brutal, and Ill never take one again. But when I didnt have to be somewhere until 11:30, I slept all morning, and I was stuck studying all night. If you schedule a class at 9, youll get up and out much sooner, ready to make the most of your day. Youll finish your work several hours earlier and have a lot more free time.
Take the teacher, not the class
During your first year, you probably wont be able to avoid huge lectures and TAs with broken English. I got stuck with a world politics professor who spent more than half of each class ranting and showing anti-Bush political cartoons.
However, always try to take the teacher, not the class. An amazing professor can make anything exciting. Talk to other students in your department, especially upperclassmen, and when youve built up a good relationship with a professor, dont be afraid to ask for his or her recommendations. You can also check out www.ratemyprofessors.com, where you can read student reviews of lecturers easiness, helpfulness and clarity.
Communicate with your roommate
My roommate was a light sleeper, but she never told me if something bothered her. Do you want me to turn this light out? Should I go study downstairs? Id ask. No, no, Im fine, shed say, time and time again. I can sleep through anything, so I thought she was telling the truth. Later, I learned she was gossiping behind my back because she was afraid to confront me about what shouldve been easy to fix.
We worked it out, but if wed had an honest discussion about what bothered us at the outset, a semester of tension couldve been avoided. Set out roommate rules early in the year, and address topics like music, guests, sharing, personal belongings and security.
Find a study spot
It took me four semesters to realize that I work best in a library or coffee shop. When I tried to work in my dorm room, I was more likely to chat with my roommate, visit a friend, blog, or watch a movie next door.
If you really want to study efficiently, get offline! Facebook and online chatting can turn an hour of studying into four hours of procrastination--and the Internet will be there when youre done.
Four years may seem like forever, but theyre going to rush by. College is a lot of hard work, but its also one of the most fun times of your life. Youre no longer a kid, but you dont yet have to assume full adult responsibilities. Academics are important, but so is enjoying your time. Squeeze the most out of it!