Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hayward's Tips for graduating Seniors as they prepare for their first semester of college---the advice is free and worth what you pay for it...

Below are 5 basic recommendations I give to graduating Seniors that I believe will help them succeed in their first semester of college. They are by no means inclusive of everything that they should do, but I believe can form an excellent foudation for success.  Whether you are shy and tend to cocoon in your dorm room and not get out, or you have the opposite problem and are too social and don't stay focused enough, I think these can help you.  It is free advice and worth what you paid for it...

1. The first month of school join the "___Society" or club that goes with your major...i.e. Economics Society, Math Society, Computer Science Society, etc.  Find out where and when they meet. Go to the meetings and participate or just sit in the back of the room and absorb.  It is important to make connections with your "own kind", meaning people with the same academic interest as you do.  You will meet peers who are ahead of you and you can be important contacts that may pay off for you later.  At the minimum, you may meet a friend or two.  Also, the professors in your department who may attend these meetings will at least see your face from time to time. This will help you as you progress in your department. You never know what opportunities may open up for you.  If the professors see you as interested and ambitious, they will help you out with opportunities that are not well publicized or utilized. 

2.  Join ANOTHER group that is service/educational orientated and not connected to your major. Most colleges have a zillion of these clubs/groups (This also includes getting involved with a church, if that is your thing).  This will expand your circle of friends and acquaintances.  If service is not your thing, then intramural sports or some other activity will suffice--just get OUT of your dorm room!

3.  Find or start a QUALITY study group.  Many times this starts the first day of class.  Some students take the initiative and make it known they are starting one. Be careful of the ones you join! Be an active participant and not a distraction. If you get into a study group and they spend the first 30 minutes goofing off, then find another one.  Staying on top of your studies is the most important task you have your first semester.

4. Treat college like a job. Do it from 9 to 5 (or 8 to 4, or 10 to 6, etc) 5 days a week.  This includes class time. Find a place where you can focus with no distractions.  DO NOT GO BACK TO YOUR DORM ROOM!  For some students, this works, but I believe for most this is a BAD move--naps are too easy and the internet/gaming is too close at hand.  Take an hour lunch break.  Don't get into the habit of saying "hey, class just started, I have plenty of time in the semester to get things done".  Stay current on your work and even get ahead.  What is wrong with going above and beyond in your class and supplementing with additional reading/research in the class you are taking?  It IS called "education", after all.  If you can maintain this discipline, I believe you will not have to stay up ANY night OR weekends to study. Of course, as with any "job", there may be exceptions when you have to do more at times.  You friends will wonder why you never seem to study or cram---you did it while they were napping or otherwise wasting time. 

5.  DO NOT PROCRASTINATE in getting help with a class you are stuggling with! All colleges have resources to help you keep up, i.e. math labs, orgainized tutorial sessions, help with finding tutors, etc. All professors have Teaching Assistants (TA's) whose primary job is to help students with homework or tutorials. Locate your TA immediately and use them.  Most professors are available too, some more than others.  Don't be shy about this! You are paying big bucks for your education and this is not high school any more. Where I have to call your parents and give you a gazillion chances, college is different. You are responsible for yourself 100%. 

Remember, these are only suggestions.  I understand there are exceptions and "what if's".  Do one, two, three or all five.  In any combination I hope this will be helpful as you start from scratch as a Freshman again...
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