If you just began university, as in are wrapping up your first semester, hats off.
I am in a similar position myself, having just moved to a new city for graduate school.
As for undergrad, my first semester freshman year was complete wreckage. I piled on a multitude of rigorous courses, I was homesick, and above all else, I was finding my footing on new land amongst new people.
That last and final point is what makes adjusting to university most difficult, in my opinion.
Yes, classes are much much more difficult than high school but the displacement than accompanies that (otherwise) exciting move to a college campus is quite rough.
Though I do believe there are measures, intentional ones, that facilitate this transition and quicken the pace at which footing is found. The reason why college gets easier as you go, is because the process itself is mastered, not the craft. I wish you the very best in this semester and future ones, and I hope these learned tips aid in your own experience.
Use university resources.
If there is something that made me go from a C student to an A student, it is the time I spent going to get help on my papers, and asking questions on homework or labs. Whether it be office hours or designated review sessions, attending these will improve your learning process and let me tell you why.
The way one studies in high school is very different from college, so going in to spaces where certain topics are covered again and again, is a tell-tale of the material that you are expected to understand for quizzes, homework, and exams.
Take classes you are interested in
I have heard many people who are in a semester compiled of “getting gen eds out of the way”. I can tell you, being someone who completed their last gen ed a semester before graduating, to take classes that excite you and balance those with required ones. It will be a much more fun academic experience.
Don’t let bad grades get to you.
Classes in the first two years are really difficult!! Sometimes it can feel like you put in all the work, and still didn’t get the grade you wanted. But I promise, it will get better. You will understand what professors are looking for, and also learn how you learn best. So that being said, continue to kick ass.
Find an advisor that is understanding of your goals
There is a misconception that your assigned advisor has to be the one you stay with, but you are able to switch advisors. That being said you want to find an advisor who will push you, but also be cognizant of where you want to be. They are used to following a schedule of courses to make sure their students graduate, but there is wiggle room for you to take the classes you want when you want them, and you want someone who will advise you but also allow you to do what you think is best for yourself.
Build your “board of trustees”
This is geared more towards the professionals you relate with during undergrad. For the next four years, curate a group of people who will advocate for you in different settings, at work, in the classroom. Whether it be professors, mentors, of supervisors, making sure there are people rooting for you who have too, been there.
Don’t feel pressured to finding a community quickly.
If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be this. It seems as if peers are quick to find their friend group or church. And there is immense pressure to solidify that community in order to fully be at home.
But rather than rushing in and settling to a place way you may not fully feel at peace, aim to find your people, your individuals who you know will ground you for the next four years. After all, this is your new home, an opportunity to create your own community, your own tribe.
With your roommates, suite mates, and those around you. Sometimes you will have to trade friendship for comfort, but it is more important to curate a living space of mutual respect.
Have routine practices that ground you.
Quick. Think of 5 things you can do on a regular basis that instantly make you feel like your best self.
For me this consists of
- and waking up early.
These practices should continuously bring you back to center if you should (and, trust me, you will) feel off balance.
Understanding yourself will be crucial in the greatest challenge of college. Once you do, through a slow, arduous process, footing will be found. I assure you.