As you enter into freshman year, you're starting to realize that maybe you don't have it all figured out yet. You probably think you can wake up in time for that 9 A.M. class, but let's face it, you probably can't make it to the 11:05 A.M. class. That's what college does to you; it sends you in twenty different directions at once, and next thing you know, you're stuck in the library at 1 A.M., cramming for the exam you have in just seven hours. It's important to remember that college is a time to create yourself in a new light, reinvent, become someone new or improve your self image to make the most out of the next four years. Here are some tips to help you stay focused, stay on track and, most of all, be the best you that you can be.
1. Set Out Your Clothes the Night Before
This will help you get ready in the morning so you don't have to stress about what to wear. Plus, this way you can have a more put together outfit for the first class you have, and you'll seem ready to start the day, even if you aren't. This will not only make you look more put together, but a professor will appreciate it a lot more if you look like you put in some effort, not like you just rolled out of bed.
2. Don't Put Your Phone by Your Bed
I'm known to break this rule, but if you have your phone somewhere else in your room where you have to get up to turn off your alarm, you're already up! You're one step closer to starting your day. When I can, I leave my phone close to my vitamins and water, that way I can turn off my alarm, eat my vitamins, drink some water to wake up and my routine is halfway through. This is also good so that you're not scrolling through Facebook late at night.
3. Take an Hour to Organize
Whether it's weekly or monthly, take some time out of your schedule to actually reorganize what you have in your room. Set up your calendar, go through the syllabi for classes, fold the messy drawers and do your laundry. These small things in your room can lead to better study habits as well. My mom used to tell me, "A messy learning space leaves a messy mind." If you work in a chaotic space, you're not going to be able to study properly or even stay focused on your assignments.
4. Email Your Professors
This is a no-brainer. Don't be afraid to ask questions in class, but emailing them outside of class is also a great way to grab their attention and seem interested. Not only are you showing interest outside of the classroom, but a professor is more likely to answer all of your questions rather than rush you out because they have another class to teach. Just make sure you're doing it at a reasonable hour, not 11 at night.
5. Be Open to New Adventures
Also a no-brainer — this is college, explore! Take the time out of your college life to create a new part of you, whether that be hiking with friends or doing laps in the library with your study-buddies, you should be doing something out of the ordinary that makes college memorable. This is the time to do it! Don't be afraid to say yes to something you've never done before. I had never gone to see therapy dogs until I started college, and now I see them before all my big exams. I had never considered going to a "Drama House" to participate in a active-role-playing event, but I did it. It's all about finding a new groove.
6. Learn to Type
Some people are really slow typers, and that's OK! But, learning how to type quickly can prove helpful in many aspects. For me, it allowed me to take notes super quickly in class with a lecturer who talks a mile a minute, writing down their full thoughts so I could look at it later. Of course, this isn't for everyone, so if you have a professor who talks fast, consider getting a recorder so that you can record the lectures and listen to them later. Having short-hand notes and scribbles won't help you with exams, but real notes and recordings will!
7. Visit Your Advisors
You may not know what you want to do yet, but now is the time to sort of, kind of figure it out. You don't need to have it completely figured out, but you should have a concept. Meeting with your advisors can help you plan for the future and seem actually interested in what you want to do going forward. You're only in college for four to five years, and you won't have an advisor with you when you leave, so this is the time to take advantage of it. Plus, advisors can help ease your mind if you're worried about taking classes or overloading to get a degree. Trust me, I've gone at least five times this semester.
8. Invest in Professional Clothing
As college students, you may not have a lot of money, but going forward you should always have a nice suit or dress for events. It's important, not because dressing up is nice, but because you never know when an event will call for it. If you join Greek life, formal exists and you'll need it. If you don't, there are still plenty of opportunities, like fundraisers, interviews, galas and much more. Of course, your school may not have events like these, in which case, I'd suggest bringing something anyway. Seriously, you will never know when you need it.
9. Create an Email Signature
I've had one for about three years now, and it makes my emails seem more professional. A good signature would include your name, school and year, your majors and any other major involvement you have. For me, that includes "Fresh U Junior Editor," along with "Office Assistant — Golisano Children's Hospital." This is a great way to sign off because not only is it professional, but it gives whoever is getting your email a chance to see your involvements as well as getting the chance to see who you are as a person. I work in a hospital, but I'm a humanities major, so it showcases two different skill sets that I have. On top of all of this, people will take you more seriously if you have a real signature rather than just a goodbye.
These are just a few tips to put your best foot forward as you enter the next stage of freshman year; do not be afraid to try out these ideas one at a time, you never know what will come in handy during a stressful week!
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