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Look, I don't know about everyone else, but I feel like I don't have a real concept of school anymore. The past almost two years have been this weird mix of online and in person and I feel like this has made me forget how to succeed in a classroom setting. This is even more difficult for many first-year students, as your formative high school years were interrupted by this pandemic. So knowing this, here's some academic tips and tricks that I hope will help you succeed your first year (and the years after) of college.

invest in a planner

I'm not trying to say using a planner has changed the way I do homework, but it really has! Every Sunday, I write out all of my homework assignments, due dates, events, and more so I'm ready for the week. It has really made me more focused on my academics.

Don't be afraid to ask a question in class

Trust me, I know how scary it can be to raise your hand in class. But it is so worth it! The small fear of asking a question in class is very much outweighed by the helpfulness that clarification will have on your academics. Ask the question- chances are your classmates will have that exact same question. If you're anxious about speaking in class, I promise no question is a stupid question.


Look I know this sounds basic, but a lot of tests and quizzes for the past few semesters have been online and open book, which means studying has been different. I had my first in person, on paper test since March 2020 yesterday and it was so weird! Our brains aren't necessarily used to this anymore. This means your study routine is going to need an update, whether that means getting a study partner or dusting off your old Quilt account.

Make a friend in every class

Y'all, just having someone you know in a class makes all the difference! Whether it's just texting them to make sure you're doing the right homework or studying with them for finals, it's helpful to have someone to go to when you're confused about something in the course.

Office hours

I would be remiss if I did not include this on my list. Look, I know. Office hours can be intimidating. It's you one on one with a professor, talking about class. But they're so worth it! I've gotten so much good advice and guidance on papers and projects by going to office hours. Plus, it's a great chance to show your professor you're willing to work hard for your class, which always reflects well on you!

I hope these tips and tricks will help you to succeed, if this is your first or even last year at SMU!

Natalie Clark is a junior at Southern Methodist University, majoring in English and Political Science on the Pre-Law track. She is a firm believer in a good nap. In her spare time, she likes to read, play tennis, and hang with friends. Instagram: @natclark424
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