I am doing something somewhat different today. I have had “bloggers block” for two weeks and have taken to Pinterest for this blog idea (thank you Pinterest)! Now that I am just a matter of weeks, 8 to be exact (but who’s counting), from graduating from college, I figured this is a good time to post a few things I have learned from my long five years of community college and university.
Don’t feel like you have to rush off to university.
Unless you are “financially blessed” or have a scholarship, go to community college first. You will pay a fraction of the cost for English 101 and Biology 2 if you go to a community college. Typically, classes are a lot smaller, too, so it is easier to get to know most of your classmates in this type of setting.*
*Note – Notice I said easier. If you’re an introvert like me, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a big or small class, I didn’t “get to know” anyone in any of my classes… I know I’m terrible.
Knock out your “basics” your freshman and sophomore years.
If you are wiser than I am, you would have taken dual-credit and AP classes in high school, if this describes you, please skip this tip. This tip falls almost as a sub-tip to the first; community college offers the same “basics” classes as universities. I enjoyed taking my basics at (three) community colleges… long story; however, each college had the same “class setup.” There were no more than 30 people in my “main” classes – this includes math, science, history/government, and English. Once you break off into your core “electives,” such as foreign language or humanities, the classes are a tad smaller, depending on the class time.
Invest in a planner or a notebook to keep up with due dates and tests.
This is a big one. Whether you are Type A, B, C, or D, you need a planner. For the first two weeks of this semester, I went without a planner or notebook to keep track of due dates. I found it to be confusing to keep up with assignments and what to do next, without pulling out my syllabi. This is a really important tip to follow especially if you’re Type A, like me, and love to check things off as you go.
When applying to university, don’t feel obligated to go to a “big name” school.
When I was applying to college my senior year of high school, I never considered the university I attend now. I applied to TWU and UNT and was accepted to both, however, about six weeks before I moved back up to Dallas I realized that UNT was way too expensive and that I should stick to community college. After my time well spent at the three different colleges, I applied to Sam Houston State University. It was half the cost of UNT and probably even more than that compared to other universities. As mentioned in the first tip, unless you’re “financially blessed” or have a scholarship, go to a smaller school. I have been receiving financial aid, in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans, from SHSU since I first applied. Hard work does pay off; do not screw around at community college.
Stay in contact with your professors, in person or via e-mail.
This is an important tip to pay attention to. Whether you are an online student like me or attend class face-to-face, it is important to talk to your professor throughout the semester whenever you have a question. Do not wait until two weeks before the semester is over to try and pull some extra credit assignments. The professors are there to help you, not fail you.
Make friends with your academic advisor.
I started out at Sam Houston with one advisor before I started in the fall to help me pick classes, I did not prefer him at all – he was kind of dull. Once it was time to register for the following semester, I met with one of the more popular advisors and LOVED him. He printed out my degree plan each time and suggested what to take and when to take it. He always kept me up to date with my degree plan even when I became an online student. Most of the time, the university assigns you to an advisor but I guess in my case, they didn’t and I had to choose. So in case you end up like me, choose wisely. If you don’t like a certain advisor, try another one until you find one you like. All advisors have the same goal in mind – to keep you on track for graduation.
Do not, I repeat do not, stay up all night the day before a test.
This is a biggie. On the first day of class your professors hand out a syllabus for that semester. Most of the syllabus is regarding university policies but the front page and the back page (in most instances) are the most important. The front page includes contact information for your professor – do not lose it! And the back page includes a schedule for the semester so there are no “surprises” when it comes to tests. After each class, review your class notes and take notes from your textbook (see below for more). Most of the time, test material comes from your books and notes so study as you go instead of a day or two before.
If textbooks are required for a class, read them.
These next two tips go hand in hand… Do not rely on just your class notes to get you an A on your exams. For a couple of my psychology classes, I skimmed through the chapters and memorized vocabulary; but as for my business classes, it is essential to read. Since I am an online student, I don’t receive lectures as students do in class, I have to read and take notes at the same time.
SIDE TIP – Never buy books from your school’s bookstore, always buy used or rent. I have used directtextbooks.com for over a year, they are much cheaper than Chegg and have a better selection to choose from.
When in class, you don’t have to write down everything the professor says. I would suggest writing down everything they write down though because that is usually the important information on tests. When reading after class, read the chapter first and highlight a couple sentences per paragraph as you go, then go back and write down what you have highlighted. I have found that works best for me, but everyone is different.
Join a club, society, or even go Greek.
This is one tip I didn’t follow but wish I did. After my first year of community college, I was inducted into an honors society, Phi Theta Kappa, but at university, I didn’t get into the Greek or society scene – not my thing. I researched different sororities and they all seem great so if Greek is your thing, make sure you read about the houses your interested in. And being an online student, you still get invites to different societies if you meet their qualifications, but if you can’t attend meetings in person, you sadly can’t be a member (lesson learned).
There are so many more things I have learned from college but I think the 10 I have listed are the most important (and a little long, sorry). I hope these tips help you, whether you’re about to start college or looking to improve your current routine.
What have you learned from college, or wish you would have done differently?