As the school year officially takes off, it’s time to transition between our carefree summer attitudes to the focus we need for the fall semester. For freshman especially, this change is daunting. There’s plenty you can do within the first month of school, however, that can make this awkward period of time run a little smoother.
- Explore Campus
While you have the time before the semester really starts to get chaotic, take the time to explore campus. Find your new favorite study spot or a place where you can hang out with friends. This campus will be your home for the next couple of years. You should familiarize yourself with it and discover all that it has to offer.
Figure out what amenities the school has and take advantage of them while you can.
Use the gym while it’s free to you. Spend your declining dollars on the different food offered at the food court and the C-store. Use the resources in the library. Walk all around campus and find where each of the academic buildings are even if you don’t have any classes there.
You’ll want to know this campus like the back of your hand.
- Introduce Yourself to Your Professors
Before you get too far into the year, try to introduce yourself to your professors in a one-on-one setting. Whether this is scheduling time during their office hours or going up to them after class, find the time to get acquainted with your professors.
This helps your professors get to know who you are. They have to remember a lot of names and a lot of faces. Make it easier on them, and yourself, by actually introducing yourself instead of only raising your hand during roll call twice a week.
Don’t be afraid to ask them questions as well. I find it best to introduce myself on the first day by going up to professors after class and asking them a quick question about the course. It helps me make a good impression off the bat by demonstrating that I care about the class.
- Stay Organized
Go through your classes’ syllabi and add all assignments to your planner. Some professors will expect you to know about these assignments ahead of time because they’re on the syllabus and won’t remind you. It’s up to you to know when and what you have due.
I personally prefer to add all of my assignments into Google Sheets and organize them by the date they’re due. I color code them based on the class and add little checkmarks to see what I have and haven’t done. It makes me feel accomplished at the end of the semester to look at all the assignments I did.
You should also try to make designated study times with a to-do list for all the tasks you want to complete that day. This will help keep you on track and focused on work you need to get done.
When you have many assignments to work on, it can be easy to find yourself getting overwhelmed. However, if you keep a regular schedule for when you need to study, the semester will go a lot smoother.
Marie Mauro, a marine and environmental biology student, cautioned, “Stay on top of your work and assignments early on so you will not fall behind when exams come up.”
- Learn How to Make Simple Meals
While you may think cooking is a waste of time if you have a meal plan, it’s still important to learn a few simple recipes to whip up if you don’t feel like heading over to the academic side of campus or if you’re living in an apartment or off campus.
Meal plans are expensive and not everyone is able to afford an unlimited plan. For those days when you just want something from the comfort of your own home, being able to cook something quick and simple will be a life saver.
I almost always go with some type of pasta if I need something fast. It can be as simple as some microwaveable macaroni and cheese or something a little more time-consuming like pasta with homemade sauce.
Anything I can throw together in a bowl usually works, as well. My go-to for a couple of years was a chicken rice bowl with black beans, avocado, and salsa. It was simple yet delicious, filling, and healthy.
You don’t have to learn how to become a five-star chef or anything, but it’s always better to keep some recipes in your back pocket for when you don’t have much time and need to throw something together.
- Get Involved
I know, I know. You’ve probably heard this a billion times before, but it is actually so important to actively get involved on campus and talk with those around you.
Find out what clubs and activities Monmouth has that pique your interest and make an effort to learn more about them. Whether that’s talking with your advisor, emailing club leaders directly, or going to the involvement fair, use this time to explore your interests and find new ones.
When asked what advice she would give to college students, Jessie Maguire, a senior marine and environmental biology and policy student, responded, “I would say to join as many clubs and organizations on campus as possible and talk to people in your class. Getting involved and putting yourself out there is one of the most important parts of college.”
Make sure to get your classmates’ phone numbers or ask them if they want to grab some food after class. Most people appreciate the gesture and are looking for friends just as much as you are.
The first couple of weeks of the year can dictate how the rest of your semester will go. Start out on the right foot by preparing yourself as best as possible. It’ll only get more chaotic from here!