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Francisco Cornejo-Garcia
Francisco Cornejo-Garcia

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8 Pointers for College Newbies

College can be an intimidating pathway for most people. In this post, I’ll be providing pointers on how to start off your semester or quarter in the best way. These are suggestions that has helped me immensely in my academic pursuits and I strongly believe that they will help you in yours.

Plan your schedule

While figuring out what college courses to take, you must keep in mind how these classes can affect your time and your energy. One of the first mistakes that most people make is taking classes that are too much or too difficult for them to take, especially when some have jobs to support their education and lifestyle. If you’re not sure how to plan your schedule or decide which classes to take, that’s what counselors are for.

Get to know your counselor

Don’t be afraid to meet up with your counselor several times throughout the college year. Not only are counselors paid to help you plan your classes and your academic goals, they are there for you as a emotional resource, to listen and may provide you with personal advice.

Preview your schedule

When finalizing your schedule, it helps to know where these classes are. If possible, go to your college before the semester starts and actually figure out the routes you need to take from class to class. This will help visualize how your entire semester will go, and whether you have enough time in between to rest or catch up on schoolwork.

Grab a classmate

While taking a class, there’s a chance that you might miss a day or two due to sickness or unknown events. While you may be excused, it can be difficult to figure out what happened that day in class. On the first day of the class, make sure to connect with at least one classmate and ask for their contact information. That way, you will be able to ask for notes or important information that you might have missed that day. Of course, you could also return the favor.

Talk with your professor

Many people would be intimidated to talk with their professor, especially if they happen not to be doing well in class. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during their office hours, especially for upcoming quizzes and exams. Not only would you have an actual relationship with your professor, a bond could be developed that could benefit both you and the professor. You might even be able to ask for a letter of recommendation toward the end of the semester.

Raise your hand

Participate! As most students refuse to speak out their confusion in fear of looking stupid in the eyes of their peers, there are others that have just the same questions on their mind. It’s a worrying conundrum that can only be resolved if either the teacher calls a student out or someone is brave enough to ask questions. Again, I urge you to participate! Not only will your peers benefit from your questions, the professor will be able to gauge how the class is doing as a whole.

Take good notes

There is not much I can say objectively about taking good notes. Some students do not even take notes and it works best for them. Just keep in mind of your own strengths and weaknesses, and figure out what kind of note taking is best for you. Some take notes during class while the professor is lecturing while others wait until after class to write down their impressions. While taking no notes during class may seem surprising, it frees up your mind to concentrate on the material the professor is giving you and you’ll be able to question and participate with the professor more often. Such interaction may help you recall the material more quickly than taking notes in class. As I’ve said before, the best way to take notes relies in how you perceive and absorb information in your own way.

Form study groups

After class, it is usually best to review the material. One way to help enhance your learning is to form a study group. If you were able to grab a classmate, keep going! Talk to other classmates and ask them if they would like to be part of a study group. There is likely to be more interested students than you would think. Try to find a time and a place to agree on, mostly preferably at study rooms in a library or a coffee shop. Talking and sharing with others your thoughts and your notes will help enhance your learning overall. As an added benefit, you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience at your college.


College can be one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences you could have in life. Don’t be afraid to explore your strengths and weaknesses. By following these tips, you may find friendship and connections in the most unlikely places. As always, stay true to yourself.

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