Tips For A Transitioning College Freshman

Entering your first year of college can be a tricky time.  For many high school students the term “senioritis” may have come up once or twice, and of course there were times when classes seemed unbearably demanding.  However, are the demands and agenda in high school the same in college?  Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not quite so.

Read The Textbook

I really can’t say this enough.  If you were assigned to read chapters 1-3 within the first week, I would highly recommend doing so.  My reasoning for this is that the midterms (which will come up sooner than you think) is almost completely based on the reading.  In high school you may be able to get by not reading the entire chapter, but instead just looking at the bold terms.  Don’t think this will pass in college.  If you do, your grade will unfortunately suffer.  Professors have a way of finding little details that would normally seem inconsequential, but will test you on them.

You’re next concern might be: How do I read the textbook?  Is there a certain or specific way to guarantee I’m understanding the information I will need?  There’s no guaranteed way to receive the A you want, but I have found ways that have made testing much easier.  Whenever you’re reading have a handy highlighter right next to you.  If there’s any fact that seems important to you be sure to highlight it.

If you’re fortunate your professor will give out a study guide (which is a compilation of important questions they want you to know) that will help guide what’s important in your reading.  I would suggest reading the material before looking at the study guide.  Don’t try just “searching” for the answers.  You may miss important facts if you try this method.

Classes – Only Two Days A Week?!

Yes, what you’ve heard is true.  For many classes, you will only have them on Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday.  As an entering freshman, this will seem like a dream.  However, don’t get blindsided by this fact and think you can ditch out on a class here and there.  Attendance isn’t required for many classes, but don’t get caught up on this tidbit.  If you think about it, all the information you received in a normal high school week was divided over a 5-day period.  Professors have to do this, but only in 2 days!  This means the classes are longer and more information is given.  So, if you’re thinking about not going just to sleep in, I would definitely think twice about this.  Taking a sick day or two is completely normal and you should be just fine catching up.  A lot of professors do post their slideshows online for viewing to help with this.

Have a Lifeline: Phone a Friend

I would still recommend exchanging information with a classmate or two so if you do miss a day here and there you’ll be able to review someone else’s notes that were in class the days you missed.  However, be sure to find someone who is reliable rather than someone who is more likely to skip class than attend it.

Scheduling Your Quarter/Semester

The one thing you’ll want to consider with your class schedule is what to take and at what times.  For your first quarter DON’T overload yourself.  At a UC the minimum number of units to take to be considered a full time student is 12, which is the equivalent to 3 classes.  For my transition I decided to take only 3 classes, because I didn’t know what to expect from the curriculum.  This will help you get acclimated to a new system.  Also, it’s best to spread out your classes.  Getting them all done in two days may seem nice considering you have the rest of the week free.  However, this may pose to be a problem for some students.  Having back-to-back classes can be tiring and stressful, and cause you to even fight the urge to stay awake throughout the whole day.  It’s best to spread them evenly throughout the week.

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Kali White

Kali White

Kali White is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing a degree in Communications and a minor in Sociology. Her goal is to have a career working for a publication company writing and editing. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors, reading, playing and listening to music, and travelling.