Ah, jeez. It’s that time of year again:
The beginning of Fall semester.
For some of you reading this, the pain of the fall of your Fall semester (no pun intended, but we’ll take it) is difficult to bear. It all started out so smoothly. The first couple weeks were a cinch and you felt like your classes were as easy as the moistest piece of funfetti cake. You thought you were the big dog on campus. You had it all figured out.
Then that first exam hit and you stumbled a bit.
“Okay, it’s just an 85, I’ve still got a perfect homework grade, my attendance is on point, and I just need to study a little harder for the next test. No biggie.”
But your confidence took a hit. You got a little shaky. You missed a class or two, had a classmate whose name you’re not quite sure of sign you in. You began to feel a little more disconnected. You showed up to class and suddenly things were more detailed and confusing.
You lost a step.
By the time the final came around, you needed a 100% plus extra credit just to keep a B.
You messed up.
But this isn’t your story. Your story is over. This is for all the dreamers out there just beginning their first Fall semester. Signed, sealed and delivered, this is a guide from the vaults of OmegaFi to Navigating Fall Semester: Starting Strong to Finish Stronger.
Step 1: Know Your Limits (Pick a Schedule That’s Sane)
Okay let’s start with the basics here. A wise man (we think his name was Ted?) once said, “Know your limitations.” This means to understand yourself and what you’re capable of. Which means being honest with what you can and cannot handle. Although this may be difficult to admit, if you’re a pre-med major and you think you’re going to graduate in 3 years and are piling on 6 classes per semester while rushing, just…just stop.
Pick a schedule that lets you acclimate to the college pace. This means, pick 4 classes for the entire semester where two of them are challenging classes. Trust us, the maintenance of your GPA is FAR more important than the speed in which you graduate. Keep that GPA high and doors to the top graduate schools and internships are yours to take.
Use websites like ratemyprofessor.com to find the professors that are student-friendly. If you need to take 5 classes for some reason (please don’t) then make sure one of them is online.
Thy will be done.
Step 2: Go to Class, Go to Class, Go to Class
This sounds simple enough but trust us, we here at OmegaFi were once college students: You’re going to want to skip class every now and then. Some days it’ll be too cold. Other days it’ll be too hot. Other days you’ll just have had too much fun the night before and figure you can just have someone send you the PowerPoint.
Here’s the thing, though. Teachers aren’t dumb. The PowerPoint is often just a shade of the real lesson. You cannot rely on it, so don’t even try. You can try to be self-taught and read the book on your own, but this is also a bad idea. There’s a reason you’re being taught: The material isn’t that accessible.
The problem with skipping class is that it has the tendency to snowball from one here or there, to as many as you can get away with. The trick is to not start the habit in the first place, so go to class, and get in there on time.
There’s nothing more awkward than being the person who shows up to a 50-minute class, 30 minutes late.
Step 3: Read the Book, Seriously
Again, this may sound simple, but as a college student, you’re going to be busy with a litany of different things that are completely unrelated to school: like trying to survive and keep your finances intact while handling your expenses without an income.
However, you’re paying thousands of dollars in tuition and hundreds in books. Don’t let them go to waste. Crack them open and read the assigned pages. Heck, do the practice problems. If you’re going to the library as much as you should (more on that later), you’ll have the time to properly learn and master the material.
That means you’re getting 100% of your money’s worth and increasing your chances of getting an A.
That’s a win-win.
Step 4: Homework is Your Friend, Do It
We know we keep hitting seemingly obvious points here, but seriously, homework completion rarely reaches 100%. We get it, there’s an assignment or two every week in most classes and sometimes one or two can just slip through the cracks.
Here’s the problem, though. Homework is typically 10% of your grade. Which means that if you do it all, you just boosted your grade from an 80% to a 90%. Or on the flipside if you don’t do any of it, you just dropped from an A to a B.
Homework IS the extra credit. Heck, in a lot of cases it’s a simple completion grade just to make sure you’re following the material. So do it, and assure that extra 10% on top at the end of the semester.
Step 5: Spend Your Evenings at the Library during the Week, Not the Club
If it’s freshmen year, there’s a good chance that you’re excited just to be starting college in the first place. You’re meeting a ton of new people that are your age, have similar interests, and you’ve got nothing but time.
You’re going to party and hit the clubs. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, the problem comes when you’re hitting Ladies Night on a Wednesday and you’ve got class at 8am the next morning. To be frank here, there’s no reason to be in a club, bar, or party that late if it’s a weekday.
It’s what makes the weekend special. Friday through Saturday is the release, but you’ve got to work before you play. Even if you don’t have class on Fridays, spent your Thursday night in the library.
Learn the material, do your homework, and study.
There will always be parties, but that GPA is set in stone once you graduate. So finish each semester strong.
If you’re just starting your Fall semester or have crippling PTSD about your fall semesters gone by, let us know in the comments below!