It’s that time of year again, autumn, so it’s back to school. Students, whether you are off to college for your freshman year, or returning to campus as a seasoned veteran, you know that university life can be challenging. Sure, it is a fun and exciting time, but the fundamental reason you are there should not be forgotten…. academics. There is so much going on at university that it is very easy to get distracted and lose focus on your priorities. Below are a few tips to help you get prepared for the upcoming year. Remember, your parents aren’t paying $25K a year for you to do keg stands and beer bongs.
1) Don’t Procrastinate
This one may seem pretty obvious, but somehow we all end up cramming for the mid-term or final the week of the exam. Multiply this by the four classes you are taking, and you have a week of hell to look forward to, one where you will be living off of adderall and Red Bull. The best way to study is to refresh information when it is most recent in your mind. I know, it may sound like sacrilege, as the last thing you want to do after class is bore yourself with the same material, but really there is no better way to reinforce the learnings. If possible, spend a half hour to an hour after each classroom session reviewing the material the professor just went over. You will be amazed how much time and effort this will save you come exam week. Imagine you have 30 sessions of a given course over a semester. That adds up to 15 to 30 hours of study time you have already put in. Trust me, do it, and you will be worlds ahead of your classmates who are basically relearning the material, as if for the first time.
2) Balance Studies and Social Life
Obviously, your priority in college will be your studies. However, to achieve college success, you need to find a solid balance between your time in the library and time to enjoy yourself with friends. Many goal-oriented students come into college focused only on getting that 4.0 GPA, only to realize that their 4 years of college have flown by with but a few memorable nights, and even fewer cherished friendships. Networking and socialization are very important aspects of success in the working world, and college provides a wonderful platform within which to begin these processes.
Of course, even more students show up to college and forget to open a book. Sure, you may be the life of the party and have the greatest time imaginable, but if you can’t put it together in the classroom, you probably won’t be allowed to continue at the university beyond your freshman year. Try to find that balance, as while there is no formula that fits everyone, it is guaranteed that you need to be both hitting the books and enjoying yourself to be a truly successful college student.
3) Don’t Abuse Drugs and Alcohol
Technically this could fall under finding a life balance, but I think drugs and alcohol deserve their own category, given their addictive and destructive nature. Now I am not the moral police and telling you to never use these substances or experiment while you are young. It would be unrealistic to think that the majority of university students go through their entire college career without experimenting with some mind altering substances. Instead, I am simply imploring all of you to be careful with the amount of intoxicants you consume and the frequency at which you use them. College is certainly a time to try new things, but one lesson you do not want to learn the hard way is beating addiction. Better to set limits before you spiral out of control.
4) Stay Healthy
Nothing can ruin your college experience faster than poor health. Of course, certain thing are out of our control, but by staying as healthy as you can, you can limit time in the bed and out of class and parties. First off, always use contraceptives. Many college students are promiscuous, so even if you aren’t, your partner might be. An STD is not something you will want to ever come across, and would definitely ruin your college lifestyle.
Exercise and a healthy diet are also a must. To feel your best physically and psychologically, your body needs to be active and needs to be fed with the appropriate nutrients. A multi-vitamin is also a good suggestion here. You won’t always have time to prepare a balance meal, but try to avoid fast food five times a week for dinner.
And when you do get sick with a common cold or even a simple headache, take time to get better. Relaxation and proper rest are very important such that your body can recover properly. Better to take a few days off and fully recover than to be stuck with a lingering cough all semester.
5) Have Support
Nobody can conquer the world on their own. Human being are social creatures and we are all in need of support from others. Even the biggest loners or most independent of us need to talk and interact with friends and family. College can be a difficult time of transition, and it is often overwhelming to see all the new faces, activities, and challenges presented to you. These times of extreme psychological change often require the support of others. Whether it be a roommate, a friend, a family member, or university support staff, reach out and do not allow yourself to get isolated, especially if you are feeling depressed or anxious. College success can not be achieved alone.
Lean on those around you when you need to, and be there for them when you are called upon.