Female student in college chemistry labWelcome to the Land of College Academia! It’s a place where new ideas, processes, and levels of awareness begin. It’s also a place where friendships and different study habits are created.  Things are much different here than they were in high school. Let’s dive into some helpful ways to navigate your college academic journey.

So Much Freedom!

Remember in high school when you had to ask during class to go use the restroom? Or when you couldn’t walk through the halls without a pass (unless it was during a passing period)? Or when you had so many required classes and not many electives? The good news is: College isn’t like that. The bad news is: You need to have some self-discipline in order to stay on top of things. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If things become overwhelming, take a step back and prioritize. College is still somewhat of a controlled environment, but there is minimal direction from authority figures and you generally have to sort things out on your own.

Class Time vs Study Time

Both the amount and the difficulty of the work in college classes will increase significantly.  The purpose of college classes is not to complete projects or homework. Class time is for note-taking and exchanging information/ideas in a group setting. Lectures will go quickly; the challenge will be to determine what main points to include in your notes, especially if the professor doesn’t use a projector. Two essential strategies are to determine your note-taking method prior to classes starting (notepad, laptop, iPad, etc), and create a study schedule to include some private study time, especially if your dorm room is distracting for you.

Learn to Say “No”

It will be so very tempting to participate in all the fun things that are going on outside of class. You will make many new friends and they will make it very difficult for you to turn down all of the invitations to go do something fun. That dreaded “self-discipline” concept comes into play again; Time can be your friend if you don’t procrastinate on completing your assignments, but Time can be your enemy if you’re spending too much of it on the fun stuff.  Develop some effective time management skills and stick to a schedule!

Get Involved

Again, nobody will nudge you to get to class on time or remind you of important events around campus. You will need to put yourself out there and participate in the important aspects of each class. In some classes, class participation is hugely important and is a large part of your grade. The more insight you share, the more you will learn from others. Also, become a part of your college community – look into volunteer opportunities, because nothing will help you be more involved than doing helpful things for and with others.

Ask for Help

Don’t despair if it takes a semester or two to get a grip on college academics. Utilize the resources you have available to you! Professors generally have office hours and will be more than happy to assist you during those times. Academic advisors are usually assigned to each student; reach out to them and get their insight. They will point you in the right direction based on your academic need. There is usually a tutoring center where you can solicit some help from experienced scholars, or there is always the school library that has helpful staff and resources to assist you with questions or issues.

Always remember that you are not alone! There are hundreds, if not thousands, of students who are in the exact same strange Land of Academia that you are. Knowing where to go and whom to ask when things get difficult will help you tremendously with your college journey!

By Lori Caffery