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20 Tips for the Class of 2020

Tory Heruska, Staff Writer

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So, here you are. You’ve gotten through four years of high school. You’ve stressed about your Senior Prom, SATs/ACTs, and college applications. You deserve to be here. You made it. But … Now, what?

Here are some tips on how I have learned to cope with the inevitable stresses and responsibilities thrust upon all college freshmen.

  1. Build a Support Network.  Whether you’re admitting it to yourself or not, your first year of college away from friends and family can be emotionally jolting. Not only are you now expected to handle hours of classes and homework a day, you have no one to come home to and complain to at the end of the day. Or so you thought. What has made the transition the easiest for me is finding my family away from family here at Austin College. Find a support group that you can study with, cry with, go out to parties and feel safe with, and be able to come home to and relax with at the end of the day. Go a little bit out of your comfort zone, introduce yourself to more people, and join more groups. According to an almost graduated senior, an important thing for freshmen to do is to “Pick and choose your friends wisely. You should be kind to everyone, but you don’t have to be friends with everybody. Find the group that makes you the happiest, not the one that necessarily makes you look the coolest or popular.”
  2. Get Organized. The best thing I’ve done so far this year was going to the ASC to get help with organization. They helped me build a full schedule for each day of the week so that I could utilize my time every second of the day, whether that means working on homework, going to class, eating, resting, or spending time with friends. There’s always something productive you could be doing, so don’t let your time go to waste. It’s precious. Don’t only organize your time though, make sure you have all of your coursework organized as well. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless when you can’t even remember all of the things you are supposed to be doing. Take the time to get a nice planner. Whether online or hard copy, write everything down. Make a to-do list and cross things off when you’re done. You’ll feel put together and accomplished and your grades will thank you. Additionally, utilize a calendar of some sort. Most college students don’t simply have to organize their course load but their extracurricular activities and social life. I know for me personally, I missed about a dozen events simply because my scatterbrained mind had forgotten about them. But since I’ve been putting them in my calendar and even setting alarms, my life has gotten a lot easier and I am a lot more reliable when it comes to showing up for events. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of tidying up. Things as simple as clearing up your room and making your bed every morning can make you feel so much more on top of things.
  3. Find the ideal place for you to study. It’s different for everyone. Some can’t focus when it’s loud. Some can’t focus when it’s quiet. You have to find what works for you. It just needs to be somewhere you can sit down and study uninterrupted. Having a time and place devoted to studying is so important. You’ll find you use your time much more effectively when you’re not procrastinating or getting distracted every other second.
  4. Go to class. Go. To. Class. I know this one sounds so obvious but unless you really and truly cannot make it to class – do everything you can to go. Lectures are not replicable. You, without a doubt, are put at a disadvantage for upcoming tests and/or projects for having missed information from lectures. Every day of class has a purpose. Professors are not wasting your time. Trust them. Go to class, listen, and take notes. You’ll find homework and tests become easier when you learn day by day in class rather than trying to cram for a test in one night. If for some reason you do have to miss a class, make sure to schedule office hours with your professor to discuss your absence and the lecture and get notes from a friend in the class.
  5. Become an expert on course requirements and due dates. Memorize the syllabus. This isn’t high school anymore. If you went to a high school anything like mine, I was constantly reminded of due dates and upcoming requirements. Because of this, I was taken aback when I was expected to know when quizzes and tests were and when essays were due. If you don’t write dates down, you’re going to forget. Your professors aren’t going to put due dates up on the board anymore. Take initiative, you will get the grade you work for. It’s all in your hands – get to know the requirements and dates for your courses ASAP.
  6. Go to your professor’s office hours. One of my favorite parts of my freshman year so far has been getting to know my professors. They love seeing you at their office hours – that’s why they have office hours: to help students like you better understand concepts or even just to guide students on general issues or decisions. The professors I have met at AC are some of the kindest, most compassionate, and wisest people I have ever met. Take advantage of that. According to a senior, “Your professors can be someone you can talk to about whatever you need to talk about, you should never be scared to bring up an issue in the class or with an assignment. There are professors that you’ll find you just really click with and you’ll go to their office just to talk with them about things and that’s one of the best things about going to Austin College.”
  7. Get to know your mentor. Your mentor is going to be your guiding light for the next four years you have at AC. You are going to want to befriend them. Let them get to know you, the better they know you, the more they can help you make the best decisions for you. They’re here to help and advise you, don’t feel like you’re bothering them.
  8. Find a balance – or at least strive to. I say “strive to” because it is a very delicate balance and it is different for every individual. If you can be social and keep up with your grades, awesome. If you need to devote more of your time to studying, that’s great too. Whichever way, make sure you have a balance. Don’t study 24/7 or go out 24/7. Both will lead to unhappiness and one will lead to flunking out of college. Learn what you are comfortable with in terms of partying and how much you are able to handle without letting extracurricular activities or grades slip.
  9. Get involved on campus – but don’t over-commit yourself. An Austin College senior suggested to freshman, “Be selective with what you give your time to. Choose a few organizations that you really care about and stick with those throughout all four years of college. Employers don’t want to see that you tried and quit dozens of organizations; they want to see you know how to devote yourself and stick with organizations”.
  10. Strive for great grades. The best you can do. Don’t settle for anything less than your best. You are here to learn, first and foremost. Don’t let anything get in the way of that. According to a senior, “freshman year it is so important to do everything you can to make Dean’s List. I don’t care if that means going to every office hour your professors have to make sure you understand the material. You need that success your freshman year to give you the confidence boost you will need to keep that motivation up for the next three years.”
  11. Take advantage of the study resources on campus. The ASC is there to help you. As suggested by a current ASC tutor, “Go to tutoring. Don’t go once it’s too late. Go now.” There is no shame in going above and beyond to make sure you are on top of all of your classes.
  12. Make time for you. Self-care is so important. Especially now you’re out in the big world all by yourself. Stress is easily caused by lack of self-care and overexertion without breaks.  Make sure you are taking some time to check in with yourself every day and make sure you are taking care of yourself. You aren’t going to succeed in anything if you aren’t getting proper nutrition, rest, and hydration. Make sure you are taking care of your laundry, making your bed, showering, brushing your teeth, relaxing, and spending some time with friends.
  13. Find an internship for over the summer. It is easy to get caught up in the midst of an exciting and busy school year, but after talking to a handful of upperclassmen at Austin College, it has come to my attention they found it very important to have an internship lined up for the summer after your freshman year. Career services can help you plan something out so that you don’t spend your summer poorly.
  14. Don’t procrastinate. C’mon, you know its an awful feeling. Everyone does it. Everyone gets frustrated with themselves when they do it. Just don’t do it. Remember how good it feels to cross something off of your to-do list.
  15. Not only is it important to maintain good health while at college, exercising also helps with stress reduction. If you’ve been studying for hours and feel like your head is about to explode, or just made a to-do list and cried over it, try hitting the gym for an hour then come back with a clear mind.
  16. Learn to love AC as your new home. This is your home away from home, family away from family now. You may as well make the best of it, whether this is your favorite place or just the place that, honestly, gave you the best scholarship. Look for the amazing things about Austin College, I promise you’ll find them. This school is ready to love and welcome you. Accept it with open arms. You’ll be happier and more appreciative because of it.
  17. Seek professional help when you need it. If you are dealing with any sort of mental or physical health condition, please ask for help if you need it. Know your limits and don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance when you feel you are struggling. Austin College and most everyone within it wants to see you succeed. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about what’s going on. Specifically, the Adams Center is a great place to go for health resources.
  18. Keep your head up high; rumors at small schools are inevitable. An Austin College Senior said, in response to this, “Learning to adjust to living on a campus where everyone knows everyone’s business is hard, but if the rumors aren’t true then they aren’t true. Be kind and loving to everyone no matter what and eventually it will blow over.”
  19. Learn to love learning, don’t just be in it for the degree or grade. I was talking to a professor today about how important state of mind is for incoming freshman. He commented, “If you find yourself feeling like your studies are a hassle, you aren’t studying the right thing.” Learn to enjoy taking in new information and expanding your mind. If you get in that mindset of I “get” to study this instead of I “have” to study this, your college experience will be a lot more pleasant.
  20. Be prepared to feel overwhelmed and lost most of the time – but remember that you have everything that it takes. Believe in yourself and your abilities. After all, according to Justina Chen, “Getting lost is just another way of saying ‘going exploring’,” and isn’t that what college is all about?
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The student news site of Austin College
20 Tips for the Class of 2020