8a.m.’s are the best… said no one ever. You wake up at 7a.m. to get ready, and at 7:55 you’re on your way rushing to Ballantine. On your way to Ballantine, you remember that you didn’t do your homework the night before because you decided to hang with your friends instead. Now, you are stressing trying to decide if you should attend class or not. Does this sound like you? A freshman who doesn’t have control of their social life and academic career? Do you go to your dorm every day and take a nap instead of doing your homework? Or do you avoid attending office hours because you think you are too smart?
Too many freshmen think this way and find themselves in a bad position because they are in denial about the transition from high school to college. It’s true, arriving at college seemed like the best time of your life. No homework and all the free time in the world, until Monday, the first day of classes, hit. The professors give you these weird syllabuses that most of us just threw away in high school, but here at IU, they became the center of our lives. Plus, compared to High school it is becoming clearer that at college, the biology, psychology, and chemistry classes are fast paced and teachers don’t check to make sure you read—they expect it.
I don’t know about you, but I am starting to realize that college isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Unlike, high school I have to actually study to get an A. I am also learning that once you start slacking off in college you cannot catch up quickly. So whatever you are doing now, DON’T FALL BEHIND! Yes, your friends will knock on your door, and call you on Thursday nights because they don’t have classes Friday, but sometimes you have to say NO. There are many opportunities at Indiana University, but you are here and you must put your Academics first. So remember that when you skip your homework to go to a callout meeting, or take a 3 hour nap before a huge test the next day, the consequences will be costly.
Here are some solutions to keep you on track:
For many students, the most striking difference between college and high school is that at college there’s no one there to stand over you and tell you what to do. Getting to class, doing the homework, getting your papers in on time—all of these are things you’re going to have to do without a parent or teacher to push you. Step up to bat and take responsibility. You’re in charge of this thing.
Get to class.
Most students have a “cutting budget”: the number of classes they think they can miss and still do pretty well in the course. For four, five, six, seven classes, you might think: “No problem, I’ll get the notes.” But, miss seven classes and (if the course has 35 meetings) you’ve missed 20 percent of the content. This can do major damage to your GPA come the tests. Also, most courses have a limit to how many classes one can miss before grades drop by policy, SO GO TO CLASS!
Adjust your attention span.
You’re used to getting your content in short, entertaining blasts: one- to three-minute YouTube videos, hyper abbreviated text messages, and 140-character tweets. But your professor is thinking in terms of a 50-minute lecture, divided into perhaps two or three segments. Retrain your attention span to process long—very long, it will seem—units of content (rather than zoning in and out as things strike you).
Study; don’t “study.”
Though nobody quite tells you this, at college most of the work is done outside the classroom. Rule of thumb: one hour of lecture, two hours of preparation. As soon as the semester starts, find yourself a quiet place to study and block out the times of the week you’re going to do the studying. Above all, don’t count study-related activities as actual studying: copying over your notes, getting the e-readings, listening to the lecture again, and “getting acquainted” with your study group are all fine activities, but they don’t count as studying.
Connect with your professor (or TA).
The single most underutilized resource at college is the office hour, now available in-person, by e-mail, or by Skype. You might not have realized it, but professors are required to be in their office two to four hours a week to meet with students and help them with the course. Your tests and papers will go better if you’ve had a chance to ask about things you’re confused about, and, with any luck, received some guidance from the professor about what your thesis sentence should be or what’s going to be on the test.