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That College Speed Bump

Every year, 18-year-olds around the country are confronted with a simple reality: College is hard.

Many students, after receiving straight-As in high school, are shocked to learn that they can no longer breeze through their classes with minimal effort. And with newfound freedom that allows them to set their own schedule and own rules, some find themselves drowning in their schoolwork.

Here are a few tips for the new college student:

-Go to class. This may sound obvious, but you might be surprised how many students will skip class, thinking, “It’s only one class.” But since class is not held daily and not filled with busywork like in grade school, every single meeting is important.

-Keep up with the reading. One of the biggest challenges new college students face is the massive amounts of reading the professors expect them to complete from week to week. Set aside time for reading every day, even if you don’t have class that day. Don’t leave reading for the last minute, because once you fall behind, catching up can be almost impossible.

-Keep a schedule. The regimented nature of high school gives students structure, a structure that is lacking in the college setting. Without parents and teachers nagging students to study and do their homework, many fall prey to the dangerous predator we call “free time.” Get a planner (if you have a smartphone, there are lots of great apps out there) and impose structure upon yourself.

-Get to know your professors and teaching assistants. Larger class sizes in college mean that it’s easy to get lost in the mix. Make sure your professors and teaching assistants know your face. Take advantage of their office hours and visit them even if you don’t have a specific question. Not only will this help you do better in class, it will help you cultivate relationships that may lead to recommendations for internships, jobs, and graduate school.

College is a fun and rewarding experience, but it can be difficult if not managed properly. Be sure to take advantage of all the resources your school has to offer to help you settle in. Starting college on the right track can ensure success throughout your academic career.