Making the Most of Your College Experience: Part One

The thought of going to college ignites a flurry of different attitudes and emotions. Some freshmen dread the thought of spending another four years in school, longing for something different than teachers and classrooms. Others may feel like college is the beginning of their adult life and cannot wait to start this new chapter. Regardless of your feelings toward attending college, the next four years (or more) will challenge you and offer you a number of opportunities. Whether you are dreading it or looking forward to it, the actions and decisions you make during college should guarantee you make the most of your time there.

What Do You Want from College?

Asking yourself this question before freshman year starts can help you better understand why you have chosen to continue your education. Your focus should go beyond the idea that you “have to” go to college or “it is the right thing to do.” Do you want to use this time to excel academically? Are you looking to meet a lot of new people? It does not matter what your reasons or goals for college are, just as long as you have some. It will help you stay focused and be happy with what you have accomplished by the time graduation rolls around.

Challenge Yourself Academically

Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, the main point of college is to continue learning. It may seem appealing to take easy courses or a low amount of credits, but you will not get your tuition’s worth of education. Taking an extra class every semester will add to your workload, but it also gives you the opportunity to explore new subjects or learn more about the field you want to major in. Do not be afraid to take that upper level class; it will be demanding, but some things in life are and you will feel accomplished once you make it through. Do not doubt yourself. You never know what you are capable of until you take a risk and challenge yourself.

Manage Your Academic Investments

Do not tell any of your teachers I said this, but not every class is going to require your full academic effort. If you spent an equal amount of time and focus on each class, chances are you will get burnt out. Once you finalize your schedule, take time to decide what you want out of each class. If one class is particularly important to your interests or to your academic goals, plan to spend more time completing homework and studying for that class. It is completely acceptable to take this approach concerning individual assignments as well. If you know getting an A on a paper will take you about 10 hours of effort, but you would rather focus on a group project and sacrifice a few points on your paper, do not feel guilty if you only spend seven hours writing. Just make sure you allot your time correctly, giving yourself adequate amounts to do all the things you would have done in 10 hours.

Understand Everything the First Time

If you do not understand a concept presented in class, do not brush it off and save it for later. Making a habit of this can create difficulties when it comes time to study for cumulative exams; you spend too much time trying to learn the things you never understood in the first place instead of focusing on all the material as a whole. Do not be afraid to ask your professors or TAs questions. Talk with other students to see if their understanding is the same as yours. Staying on top of the material means your grade will be better and you will be less stressed once finals roll around.

The tips in this blog are primarily academically focused. But this is just part one! Stay tuned for some lifestyle tips on making the best of your college experience.

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Caitlin Furin

Caitlin Furin

Caitlin Furin is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in journalism and strategic communication. With an interest in social media, she can often be found exploring the Facebook walls, Twitter feeds and Pinterest profiles of big brands. Her laptop and iPhone never leave her side. Outside of school and work, Caitlin can be found enjoying a good TV show or two and spending time with her friends and family.
Caitlin Furin

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