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Are You Ready for College?

A Woodland High student provides seniors' survival guide for the next four years.

Adjusting to college life can be a bit scary in the beginning. If you are confident and stay positive, however, you will feel comfortable and make new friends in hardly any time at all. Meeting new people and beginning new classes can be a little awkward, but have an open mind to new experiences.

When moving into your dorm, ask friends and family for help with moving in; doing so will give you an opportunity to spend more time with them. Afterward, when they have left and you have adjusted to some changes, simply call home and talk to your family when you are home sick, or instant message a friend and check to see how things are going back home. 

When making a class schedule, make sure you leave time between each class so you can relax and not have to scamper off in a rush. Furthermore, if you would like to take an advanced class, it is a wise choice to sign up for only a few. It will help to go to your academic adviser and talk about your classes and how many to take. When choosing your classes, pay attention to the professors as well. Some professors are easy going and friendly, others will make you do back-flips just to get a C; so choose your classes wisely. Meet the professors and get a feel for the atmosphere in the room and their personality.

Taking notes in college may become frustrating if you cannot keep up with the professor’s lecture. However, over time, note taking will begin to feel natural. What may be helpful in saving you time, ink, lead and paper, is to date your paper on the day you take those notes, skip lines between notes, use abbreviations, phrases, short hand writing, but make sure you will know what it means in the future, and jot down key vocabulary terms, important facts and formulas. If it is necessary, use highlighters and sticky notes to remind you, and to make important points stand out. And everything your professor says and writes does not necessarily need to be in your notes. Listen to key phrases and words; such as names, dates, “this is important,” or “this will be on the test.” And if you know what the professor is saying is in your text book or previous notes keep a sticky note or tab on that page(s). And when writing, make sure your notes are neatly written and at hand when you walk in and out of class; taking poorly written notes and misplacing them does no good to you, or your grades, when you take a test over notes you cannot read or have lost.

After moving in your temporary home, meet your roommates, since you will be living with them for a while. “Rooming with your best friend is not the best idea, because if you live in a mini house with them, by the end of one year, both of you will get into arguments and most likely won’t be able to stand each other,” said Kristen Dempsey, a freshman at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. Get to know your new roomies and talk about what the ground rules for the apartment should be; the guide lines should be firm but fair.

“Compromise, communication, honesty and mutual respect will play a major role for you and your roommates throughout your college years,” said Rebecca Cheek, a graduate of the University of West Georgia. Also, instead of arguing, ask before you take any of your roommates’ possessions and respect their opinions.

Saving money while buying supplies for college can be a challenge, however, it is possible. Use your money for , notebooks, pencils, pens, highlighters, etc. While buying textbooks for your classes, only buy the required books. And instead of buying all new textbooks, buy used books; there are many students who have no use for the books anymore and sell them online.

However, an option you might want to consider is having a part-time job during the summer and on breaks. “I worked over the summer to pay for the majority of my college funds,” said Jennie West, a graduate of Stanord University.

Moreover, when buying utilities and supplies for your dorm, ask your roommates if they would like to split the costs; for example, one roommate buys cups and plates, another buys silverware, napkins and paper towels, another buys towels, rags and other bathroom utilities, etc. Furthermore, when moving in, bring your own pillows, sheets, lamps, hangers, etc. from home instead of going to the store and buying another bedroom "set" that you may think is cute or stylish.

Throughout your college life, you will often feel stressed; this is really not healthy for your body, physically or mentally. If you manage your time wisely and set goals for each day, your stress level will decrease. When there are major tests or finals coming up, invite a few friends over and have a study group, but remember, everyone needs to stay focused on what you should be studying, not gossiping and getting off track. While studying or reviewing, use a method that works for you, whether it is making your notes into a song, putting them into a form of a poem, rewriting certain parts of your notes, highlighting key points or making the study group into a quiz show.

Maintaining healthy habits will make you and your body happy, which means exercising regularly (not just walking around campus to your classes), eating right (instead of snacking on junk food or going hours without anything to eat), staying calm and having quiet time in a peaceful place, having fun every now and then (rather than staying cooped up in your room studying), getting plenty of rest every night, instead of staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning studying (which will not help you in any way,  simply because of the fact that your brain stops retaining any information past 1 a.m.; also your body and mind will be exhausted by the time your class starts). If you are struggling on certain problems or not understanding the material, do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help from classmates or professors. Getting help will be better than stressing out, which in the long run will most likely result in a failing grade on a test.

As you enter into your college life, and throughout your years there, you will find it to be very beneficial if you use the time you have before and after class to review your notes. Another helpful tip is to break your negative habits; have a plan for the next day, and stay productive. A study schedule will help you remember when to study and when to take a break, write down when you will have quizzes, tests, mid-terms, finals, study time and breaks. Before you begin to study, make sure you are in an area where you are comfortable and won’t be distracted. Reviewing alone or with a partner can get boring and tiresome, so have breaks every hour or two for 10 to 15 minutes. This will give your brain a chance to retain the information you just went over.

“When I studied, I highlighted key points in my books and recited them out loud to myself,” said Jennie West, a graduate of Stamford University.

Don’t get discouraged if you do not comprehend a problem or understand a reading in your book or notes. Keep a positive attitude and be confident in yourself; if need be, ask a friend or professor for help. And remember, you are in charge of your time, don’t let someone else talk you into doing something that will distract you from your work. However, it is essential and important that you go out and have fun with friends when you are finished with your work, because your body will need some time to relax and get away from your busy college life.

thomaseedwards March 17, 2012 at 12:25 PM
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Colleen Hunt July 03, 2012 at 10:51 PM
This helpful article would benefit all high school seniors! It should be in their Senior Year Welcome Packet, so they have all year to reread it, as they prepare for college. Wish I had been given such great advice before I started! Very well-written.

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