3 Tips from a College Instructor for First-Year Students

3 Tips from a College Instructor for First-Year Students
  • Opening Intro -

    It is no secret that college is difficult.

    I learned this lesson many times through my six years of undergraduate and graduate coursework.

    I see this lesson manifest itself every day as I teach my first-year composition and literature students.


Commentary from a college professor friend of mine.

College is difficult, but not impossible. After my six (short) years in academia, I have figured out three tips I share with my students and wish someone had shared with me.

1. Go to class!

Have you ever heard the phrase “90% of life is just showing up?” This statement holds true for college classes. Show up! Skipping classes is a slippery slope. One missed class turns into three, then a week, and before you know it, you are asking yourself if you should even return because you feel a mix of embarrassment, guilt, and confusion. (Trust me, I’ve been here before.)

It is important to not allow yourself to go down this slope. When you skip class, you miss important lectures, notes, and discussion. You also send the message to your instructor and fellow classmates that you aren’t invested in your education. In the long run, it is easier to show up and succeed than it is to skip and not learn as much as you could have. That extra hour in bed may feel worth it when the alarm goes off at 7 a.m., but you are ultimately hurting yourself.

2. Attend office hours.

Office hours are a time for you to ask questions, gain a better understanding, or simply take the time to talk to your professor. Students who attend office hours show initiative and an interest in their education. This is impressive to teachers! Students who visit office hours also build a stronger relationship with their instructors. This can lead to mentoring and references later in life.

As an instructor, I am also often willing to give the benefit of the doubt when entering grades to a student I know is putting in extra effort. This can mean the difference between two letter grades for students who are teetering in between scores. Putting just a few extra minutes of face time with your instructors can mean big benefits later.

How to manage time and your academic goals in college?

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3. Allow yourself time for fun.

College is hard. It is important to give yourself a break so you can recharge and refresh yourself for the next study session or lecture. Make sure you enjoy the time that you are in school; You will not get a chance to re-live it. Make sure, like studying, you practice fun in moderation. Too much of a good thing can become bad.

Show up, go to your instructor’s office hours, but allow yourself time for a break. College is a challenging, yet rewarding time that will push you. Push back! Do your best and have fun.


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Categories: Study Tips