Some 20+ million college freshman have settled onto campuses nationwide this fall. They’re working their way to mid-terms, finding the transition to college life is tough. A whopping 30% dropout before sophomore year, with life-altering consequences. Research shows that those without a college degree earn 35% less than college graduates, and are two times as likely to be unemployed.
Booby-Traps of College Life
First year students face an expanded academic workload, isolation from family and high school friends, and often, financial pressures. Tuition, books, living and social expenses force many to find part-time jobs. Students grapple with the need to balance their course work, social life and employment. Frequently, rising freshmen arrive on campus poorly prepared academically and challenged to navigate their new college freedom. These stressors are the top reasons cited for dropping out after the first year.
Simple Tips to Survive and Thrive in Freshman Year
Any college student can conquer their workload and reduce the feelings of overwhelm with these common-sense tips to get and stay on track:

#1: Prioritize your activities and plan your days to feel in control.
Take a few moments at the END of every day to think about what you need to do the next day. Write down on a calendar, spreadsheet or day planner how you envision the day to unfold in the order of activities. Then when you wake the next day, take a look at your plan and use it to define and manage your time. Remember to include any class times, meals, planned study time and of course, make sure there’s a little down time!

After a week of doing this, you can create a template to work from that holds your constant activities e.g. class times and then plug in the variable ones as they come up.  No one can manage your time or meet your due dates except you.

#2: Take advantage of your campus resources.
Do you know who your academic advisor is? Meet with them regularly to discuss issues and get direction and advice. Introduce yourself to each of your professors and visit them during office hours to ask for their help with assignments or concepts. Even if you ‘re doing well in the class, it’s good to meet one-on-one with them as they have a lot of students and your effort to meet them will be noticed at grade time. Look to campus life for free student services including academic tutoring, test prep help, workshops on time management, writing skills and career advice.

#3: Tool up your reading and study skills to increase productivity.
Reading is the mother of all study skills. When you are ineffective or inefficient, your workload suffers. Consider taking a speed reading course online, or install speed reading apps that can help you double and triple your reading speed. Faster reading means you can stay ahead on your course work while having more time to do other things.

There are many simple study skills strategies. Get started with these:

  • Get to know at least one person in each of your classes, suggest a study group or note exchange for test prep and any missed classes.
  • Schedule study time for when you are more awake. Saving reading or studying until the end of the day spells disaster for efficiency. Find pockets of time earlier in the day.
  • Secure a distraction and interruption free place to study. This alone will promote focus and help you accomplish more in less time.
  • College students are notorious for bad sleep schedules BUT if you can ensure you get enough sleep on a regular basis, you will find you read and learn more easily than if you are sleep deprived.
Last but not least, don’t let your phone run your life. Turn it off during study time and when you are with your friends. You will be rewarded with more focus time and more satisfying human moments.

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