8 Ways to Make your First Semester of College Successful

With the fall semester quickly approaching, it’s time for you to start thinking about what can be done to make your first semester of college successful. While the transition from high school to college may seem intimidating to some, there are several things you can do to ease this process (and hopefully ace your classes too).

1. Use a planner.

In high school it may have been possible for you to keep track of all your obligations in your head (and in some cases, with the help of your parents), but that time in your life has unfortunately come to an end. Between academic and social commitments, your bound to forget one thing or another if you solely rely on your mind to keep it all straight. My advice? Find a planner that works for you (whether you prefer paper or online) and use it religiously. Color code it. Highlight it. Love it. Take it with you everywhere. That planner will become your key to success. I actually use a combination of paper and online, as I have a Lilly Pulitzer planner for my social commitments (sorority, job, mentorship program, etc) and use the MyHomework application for my assignments and due dates.

2. Get resourceful on campus

Many incoming college freshmen tend to overlook the academic resources that are provided by their university. Many campuses offer some sort of help center or “Student Success Center” (http://success.missouri.edu) as it’s called at the University of Missouri. These wonderful places are usually filled with knowledgable and experienced tutors who are actually paid to help you be successful. Make them earn it and take advantage of this opportunity.

3. Get resourceful off campus

While your campus most likely offers on site tutors, there’s also a plethora of academic aid awaiting you on the web. A personal favorite of mine is Khan Academy (khanacademy.org) which provides students with free video tutorials on various subjects across the academic spectrum. I personally don’t know how I would’ve survived micro and macro economics without it. Other good online resources to check out? UDemy and Coursera are two other great options for online academic help. They both offer a pretty decent selection of free courses that could give you further instruction and help you be more successful in your classes.

4. Listen to your professor

If your professor advises you to read your textbook, you should probably read it. It will usually enhance what you’ve learned in class and strengthen your odds of acing the exams (assuming that’s your goal). Better yet, he or she might even tell you that the text book isn’t necessary for the class. Because of this, it also might be beneficial to wait to receive your class syllabi before purchasing your textbooks. Another note on textbooks: never buy them from the university book store. They are always overpriced. Chegg.com and Amazon.com are two reliable sites that I’ve used to find much more affordable text books – both excellent alternatives to the book store.

5. Do your research ahead of time

It’s incredible what you can uncover about your courses on the internet. Through websites like Ratemyprofessor.com and university sponsored websites, students can get a taste of what exactly they’re getting themselves into before class even begins. This can be helpful because it allows you to figure out which classes will require the most time and effort. Researching professors and course loads online is also exceptionally helpful when trying to design your class schedule each semester.

6. Get to know your professors

Getting to know your professors is not only important because it can help your grade if you’re on the fence between a B and an A, but it also can help you with networking later on down the road. In a couple years, you will panic much less when you find out you need a letter of recommendation for an internship if you’ve already taken the time to build relationships with your past professors. Start now. Find out what their office hours are each week and be a regular. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

7. Make friends

This sounds like silly advice for collegiate academic success, but struggling through class assignments can be much more bearable with the company of other classmates. You might be thinking “well obviously I’ll make friends in class” but many students tend to go to class (especially in the large lecture halls) without speaking to anyone at all. Get there a little bit early and strike up a conversation with those around you. Study groups are great. Not to mention, it’s way more fun than studying alone.

8. Study on the go

Between sorority events and business school obligations, I found myself having very little time to just be able to sit down and study. My favorite trick? Save your documents or study guides to your myHomework app and pull them up at any time to study discreetly. I did this countless times throughout freshman year and it may just have saved my biology grade. For more serious studying, you could create new materials with StudyBlue or Quizlet.


Guest Author:

Katelyn Entzeroth – University of Missouri- @katentz