By Madeleine Darowiche
I have just completed my first semester of college, and let me tell you, I have learned so much in those few short months. I know college can be tough for some of us. Rewind back to a few months ago, and I never thought I could do it. But I made it through, so I know that if you are struggling in some of the same ways I am, you definitely can too! (Read my previous blog about starting the semester here.)
I would like to pass on a few of the lessons I learned over the course of my first semester in college.
This is more like a tip than a lesson, because I was fortunate enough to have learned this long ago. Make sure you get help from professors before it is too late! Never wait until the end of the semester; I cannot stress that enough! I needed some extra help in one of my classes, so I consistently attended this professor’s office hours. During the semester, hardly anyone ever went, but towards the last few weeks, the professor’s office was jam packed with people trying to improve their grades before the final. I promise you, most professors will notice if you have been getting help consistently. Remember, it cannot hurt you. It can only benefit you in the long run.
Ask questions. If there is an assignment that you don’t understand or you need further clarification on, don’t be afraid to ask for a more detailed explanation. Usually, professors will be more than happy to elaborate on directions for you. Sometimes, I have had to ask many questions about an assignment. It is better to ask several questions and do an assignment right the first time rather than starting it and realizing you are doing it completely wrong and have to begin all over again.
Try new things. Part of college is learning more about yourself and what you are good at. If you don’t try something, you will never know. Sometimes it can be a little scary to do something you have never done before, but you may be really good at it and/or you may really like it.
Don’t get discouraged if you are not getting the grades you hoped for the first semester. College is tough, but you will get through it. Just be sure to keep working hard and persevering, even when times get difficult. A little determination goes a long way; remember that. Keep a positive attitude, and eventually things will work out for you.
Don’t be afraid to question a professor about a grade they gave you. If you don’t understand why you received a certain grade, ask them to explain how they graded the assignment and why they gave you the grade they did. Some professors will also give participation grades. I have found that this type of grade has more room for discussion. For example, I was given a grade for participation mid-term that I felt was a bit lower than I deserved. Then for the final reflection of the class, we had to give ourselves a grade, taking our class participation into account. I had very strong reasons as to why I thought I deserved a higher grade for the final and I ended up getting a better grade in participation because I was able to argue and back up my points.
Friendships take time. They aren’t always going to happen immediately. Also they aren’t automatic either. In order for them to be strengthened they need to be worked at. Trust me. I know that it can be hard, but you can do it! Just try to be patient and everything will work out in the end.
I’ve learned that living with roommates can be difficult at times, but it is important to learn how to live with different people. It is just part of life and adjusting to college. If you don’t click with your roommates right away, it is okay. Getting used to people takes time. Remember, you don’t need to be best friends. Just be sure to always be polite and nice to one another if things don’t work out how you imagined they would. To be quite honest, although this may never happen to you, things may not work out at all and room changes may have to be put in place. That is definitely okay and normal, though. Sometimes you and your roommates just may have conflicting personalities that aren’t conducive for any of you. These things happen; it is not the end of the world.
Have fun and make your four years of college count; you can’t get them back!