During my first year at Sacramento State University, I remembered I was so excited to live on campus, make new friends and finally be on my own. Sure, in my head everything seemed so easy and it was going to be so awesome because I don’t have to follow my parent’s rules anymore. That quickly changed when I started to realize I am on my own and I have to be a mature adult. Eww! After my first semester, I quickly learned I needed to find a balance between my classes and social life because I never made time to study for my college courses. It was so much easier in high school when teachers provided extra credit to raise your grade. Now, it’s a different game to play because you either pass or fail and the teacher’s won’t care if they see you aren’t making the effort. To avoid the worst possible outcomes, I created a list of five helpful tips every college student needs to know. This will help you get a head start so you can use these tips for the rest of your college career and succeed!
1. Get Organized & Be Pre-prepared.
Photo Courtesy of Jessica Thames
Yes, I said be pre-prepared. That means be prepared to get prepared! Your organizing skills will pay off for school if you do this. Trust me, you will feel a thousand times better when you plan your classes, workout sessions and other extracurricular activities. Most teachers will send out a syllabus before the first week of school starts via email. Read it. Then read it again. Always become familiar with the assignment schedule, teacher’s office hours and the course description. You can also grab your favorite color highlighter and mark up your syllabus as much as you want. This will help you to be prepared to ask questions the first day of class and show the teacher you did your homework without being asked. Brownie points! If you don’t receive the syllabus before class, then plan your weekly class schedule in your planner before school starts. When I planned out my school schedule, it helped me to have more free time to study, meet with friends and to make it a habit to stay organized.
2. Find Yourself A Class Buddy
Photo Courtesy of Brodie Vissers
I know, I know… the first day of class is always the most awkward. You have to pick your unassigned seat first so you can have it for the rest of the semester and not everyone seems so friendly to meet. It will be alright because I promise it will get better. Sometimes you have to be the first person to introduce yourself. Besides, it’s always great to make new friends in class because you can always ask for help on homework, notes you might have missed when you were sick or find a study buddy for upcoming midterms. I’ve always found study groups are really helpful when it is productive work and not socializing. I always get stuck studying by myself so having someone to study with makes it easier for me to review lecture notes and ask questions, which is always reassuring before the test. During your next class, use this opportunity to meet another student because chances are they might need a study buddy too!
3. Utilize On Campus Resources
Photo Courtesy of Tim Gouw
Did you know Sacramento State University has multiple computer labs for students? Students have the opportunity to study for a test at 3:15am in the AIRC Building because it’s open 24/7 during the semester with exceptional hours due to holidays. It’s so convenient for students who have group projects, need access to computers and printers. Though, be careful during finals and midterm week because it will fill up fast so get there early for a spot! Another location, is the pharmacy inside the Student Health & Counseling Services, located at The WELL. This is where you can purchase cheaper medicines, refill prescriptions and make an appointment with the doctors. Because you are a student at Sacramento State, these services won’t come as an extra cost to you and it’s great for students to have if they don’t live at home anymore. Don’t forget to bring your student ID, OneCard so you can be checked in for the University’s services! I strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to explore more services offered in The University Union, Sacramento State Library, ASI, Student Service Center, our Career Center and so much because you never know when you might need it.
4. Get to Know Your Professors
Photo Courtesy of Matthew Henry
Before I register for my classes, I always like to do some background research on professors. It may seem kind of weird, but bare with me. I often use Rate My Professors website. I can get an understanding of how the teacher lectures, the workload and read other student’s reviews based on their experiences. It helps me to decide if their class is a good fit for me or if another teacher would be better. It’s always a good idea to use this site with caution because I’ve heard some teachers write their own reviews anonymously. On the first week of class, I personally like to sit in the front row. I’ve noticed how it improved my grades, which raised my GPA. After class or during office hours, stop by and say hello to your professors. This will help you in the long run when you miss an assignment or need some advice from your teachers. Teachers can sometimes be intimidating to know. Remember, they are people too and they do want to help you succeed so you don’t have to retake their class.
5. Improve Your Exam Grades
Photo Courtesy of Thought Catalog
During high school, I would always procrastinate before my exams and sometimes I never studied. Somehow, I always received a decent grade and passed the class. When I arrived in college, I failed my first exam because I did not effectively study and prepare myself. I recently discovered certain study methods worked for me and noticeably improved my results. When you find your own study methods, it will help you achieve success. DO NOT CRAM! Instead, rewrite your notes and color code each bullet point or header to help you be familiar with the material. Then, set a weekly schedule prior to your exams to study each section by yourself or with a study buddy. It will help you to be familiar with each other’s notes in case you had a question or dozed of in class and missed something. Always attend your teacher’s office hours to discuss details on how to prepare yourself for the test and to find out exactly what you need to review. It will save you so much frustration and time from having anxiety about the test. Of course, we all know better than this, but it’s never smart to pull an all nighter before the actual test date.
There is so much to learn about college whether you are a first year or you have been in college forever and can’t wait to graduate. It definitely can get overwhelming and stressful during your college career. The key is to find a balance that works best for you. By maintaining a healthy balance, it will help you grow and achieve more success rather than being worried about failing. These tips have made it so much easier for me to focus throughout the semester and I know it will help you too. It’s the new year so let’s make this semester our best one yet!