Five Pieces of Advice for College First Years
This week, I started my second year of college. Despite the fact that I was used to college and had grown to enjoy it towards the end of last year, I was still as anxious about starting this year as I was the year before. But, anxiety aside, I learnt a lot about college in my first year, and I thought I’d share some of these things with you.
I could sit here for hours writing out all the advice I could think of, until this blog post looked more like a college assignment as opposed to what it is, but for the sake of keeping this interesting, I’ve decided to give you only what I consider to be the five most important things that will make your first year of college so much easier.
1. Take advantage of the cooling off period
I’m not sure if this is something all college’s offer, but the college I attend have a period of a few weeks where you’re allowed to change your mind about the course you’re on. Don’t think of it as something you’ll get around to eventually, or think you’ll lump the course for a year and then go on to something else, because you’ll grow to resent it. And besides, further education is a chance for you to study what you enjoy, not what you hate. It’s worth using yours last few years of free education wisely.
2. Talk to a lecturer or tutor if you’re overwhelmed with the workload
Your lecturers and tutor can’t read your mind, so if you’re getting overwhelmed and don’t tell them, they aren’t going to be able to help you. Although extensions are dealt like gold dust by lecturers everywhere, they might be able to explain what you can’t understand. Tutors can also help with organizing your work if you get overwhelmed and help you to prioritize work, as well as referring you onto other services the college offer if they feel you need it.
3. Use long breaks for studying/starting assignments.
I was given this advice so many times last year, and I truly underestimated how much I would’ve befitted from it. I did it a few times last year and it reduced the stress I felt when hand in date came when I did, and meant I had more time to spend doing the things I wanted once I got home. Of course if you only have a half an hour break and it’s the only one you have all day, go and eat lunch and chill out with your friends, but if you have two hours to use, think about where your time would effectively be spent. This is definitely something to consider if you’re running behind on assignments.
4. Strike a good work/life balance
Yes, college is important. Getting good grades is important, especially for those who plan to go on to university, but trust me when I tell you that taking no time for yourself and working on assignments or other college work seven days a week will send you insane. I did it for a large chunk of last year, and I was left so exhausted that I’d come straight in from college and go to bed because I didn’t have the energy to do anything else. In the last few months, I made Saturday’s my no-work day, where I’d do what I wanted to do and ignore college completely. For your sanity, please, consider something like this.
5. Most of all, keep at it
College is difficult. It’s stressful, and settling in can be confusing, especially as the type of people you’re interacting with probably differs greatly from secondary school, but keep going. If you love the subject(s) you’re learning, things will eventually click into place, and it won’t seem so daunting after a while. And, despite all the stress and worry, seeing the certificate(s) at the end of it all and knowing your hard work paid off is really worth it.
So there are my top-five pieces of advice for those of you starting college this year. Good luck!
What would you advise for students in this position, having been at college previously or been there for a few days or weeks yourselves? I’d love to know!
Until next time,