By Brooke Schultz
Student Life Writer
Whether you’re a returning or a new student, starting the school year off right can always be a challenge. Getting off to a good start is important, and here are a few things you can do to get on the right track:
Keep Your Syllabus
Keeping ahold of and using the syllabus will give you the professor’s course objectives, office hours, grading scale, attendance policy, and the assignments. Knowing these things before you start doing work will help you in the long run.
Senior Megan Harrison said, “I always suggest using an agenda to write down essay deadlines, exam dates, homework assignments, etc. from the syllabus and checking it religiously so that nothing creeps up on you. Be sure to keep up with the reading – college is a lot of reading. Always take notes in class also.”
Manage Your Time
Assistant Director of the Office of Academic Skills Hilary Chubb said that new and returning students tend to make the mistake of not prioritizing well. “By midterms, most students will have pulled an all-nighter, but I can assure you that it is possible to go the whole way through college without that being necessary. It is a matter of time management and priority management. Think carefully from the start of the semester why you are here and what is most important this semester,” she said.
Chubb recommended that students should give themselves visual reminders like sticky notes placed where they can see them everyday.
Sophomore Taylor Harcum tried to keep herself from procrastinating in her first year. She said, “Don’t wait until the last minute to do work.”
Know Your Resources
If you know your school’s resources, you can make use of them when things get rocky. Get to know the library, the career center, the gym, and the health center.
Harrison said, “Don’t ever hesitate or be afraid to use campus resources for help! Your professors, course mentors, the Writing Center, and Quantitative Skills Center are all here to support you.”
Chubb said that OAS and other campus resources are there to support students. “Check out our websites for drop in hours and study table times, or use WCOnline to schedule an individual appointment with any of our tutors. OAS also provides Course Mentors in certain courses, and there are sessions each week that the Course Mentor for that class will tell you,” she said. There are also Success Seminars dealing with time management or note taking and a myriad of other things to assist students.
(Try to) Stay Stress Free
Of course, while college is fun, it’s also stressful. US News reporter Courtney Rubin said, “Stress in reasonable doses can be a good thing… when stress is prolonged or overwhelming, it has been implicated in a host of health problems, including impaired immunity and depression.”
Keeping yourself stress free involves getting enough sleep (about 7-8 hours), eating well, exercising, getting emotional support, and not overloading yourself. Knowing what the school has to offer can help you stay on top of your stress and keep you from getting overwhelmed.
Sophomore Kirsten Moore had a full workload and struggled to get enough sleep in her first year. She said, “Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.”
Joining clubs or going to school hosted events will help you socialize with other people outside of class or your dorm floor.
Harrison said she felt like she missed out on things during her freshman year because she was too timid and wished she had auditioned for WACapella sooner. She said, “My best advice is to get involved. That sounds so cliché, but it’s so important. Join a club, play a sport, [responsibly] go to a party, work on campus, etc. Getting involved is the best way to meet new people, explore new interests, and really make your new surroundings feel like home.”
Chubb recommended getting involved but not to overdo it. She said, “It is very important to be involved, that has to be balanced. You shouldn’t join 15 student organizations, and sometimes you need to skip a meeting because you have an exam later that week which you should be preparing for in advance.”
Sophomore Michael Luckert spent his freshman year involving himself in a lot of different clubs and ended up spreading himself a little thin. This year, he’ll be focusing more on the clubs he’s most interested in. “Get involved in only a few clubs, not all of them,” he said.
Following some of these tips and starting the year off right can help you set the pace for a successful year.