10 Secrets for Getting Through the First Six Months of College
The first six months of college can be challenging, eye-opening and exhilarating. They can also, unfortunately, be a time of loneliness, fear and overwhelm. You may even find yourself thinking about dropping out and moving back home where things are familiar.
But before you fill out the withdrawal forms, stop and take a deep breath. You aren’t alone. Many other students feel as you do, and if they can survive, so can you.
The following ten tips might help.
1. Expect to Be Homesick
If you’ve never been away from your home before, of course you’ll feel a little homesick for your family and friends. Rather than trying to fight that feeling, it’s best to simply acknowledge it and realize it is normal.
Remind yourself you won’t feel that way forever. In fact, in spite of being homesick, you’re probably already starting to make new friends.
2. Attend Classes Regularly
Some people who are on their own for the first time find it difficult to be self-disciplined. Sure, your calculus class is important, but it’s a beautiful fall day and you’d rather be playing Frisbee with your friends.
Too many days of missed classes, though, will make you fall behind. Drag yourself into the classroom first and plan something fun for later.
3. Take Part in Groups and Events that You Enjoy
Whatever you do, don’t sit around moping. Do things you like and meet new people. Now might be the time to get involved in student politics or volunteering at a community shelter.
4. Ask for Help
No matter how tough your teachers may seem, they all want you to succeed. If you find yourself falling behind in a class or not understanding something the teacher said in a lecture, ask for help.
Many schools also have programs like writing labs or English as a second language (ESL) classes that can help you perform better in the classroom.
5. Avoid Debt
Some students leave college in thousands of dollars of credit card and student loan debt. Rather than taking out student loans, try to find grants and scholarships — which you don’t have to pay back — that will help cover the cost of your education. For instance, if you want to join the armed services when you get out of school, check into military college scholarships.
6. Practice Self-Control
Being away at school may mark the first time you don’t have to answer to anybody but yourself. That’s why it’s so important to practice self-control.
You’ll feel much better about yourself, and you’ll do much better in your studies, if every night is not party night. That’s not to say you can’t have any fun. Just make sure that school comes first.
7. Make New Friends
College is a great place to meet all kinds of people you might never have known otherwise. Take some chances and make friends with people you wouldn’t normally hang out with. You may be surprised by how much you have in common.
8. Stay in Touch with Old Friends and with Family
There’s an old saying that you should, “Make new friends, but keep the old. / One is silver and the other’s gold.” Just like you want to commit to making new friends in college, you should also commit to keeping up with the relationships that were important to you when you were younger.
Besides, if you don’t stay in touch, your mother will guilt-trip the heck out of you during Thanksgiving break.
9. Get in the Study Habit
Set aside some time every night to study for each of your classes. That way, you don’t have to worry about cramming a semester’s worth of knowledge into your head the night before the final exam or trying to write a term paper the day it’s due. Sadly, some students don’t survive their first six months at college because they don’t know how to study.
10. Have Fun
Sure, these ten tips have talked a lot about self-discipline, but you can be self-disciplined and still have a really good time at school. Your college days only happen once. Enjoy them while you can.
This post is brought to you by guest blogger Carly who enjoys writing about military college scholarship and other financial aid issues of interest to students.