Let’s get right to the point. To be successful in college (define success however you wish), you have to have a certain skill set. Let’s call it the College 101 Starter Kit. I won’t beat around the bush: there are FOUR essential tools in this starter kit that you’ll need.
1) Time Management
Okay, don’t roll your eyes at me just yet! I know this is an obvious one but it’s truly the one tool my advisees struggle with the most. From working a job to community service to studying to social time to joining clubs and also going to the gym – where is it all going to fit in? Do you see my point now? Being able to prioritize and set a schedule that works for you! is crucial. Remember that once you get to college, there won’t be anyone to set your schedule for you. Long gone will be the days when a bell told you when you could eat lunch and when you could go to the bathroom. It’s all you now! But no worries. I got you. Head on over to the “Time Management” tab to get started with the basics.
2) The Power to Stand Up for Yourself
Okay, I don’t necessarily mean in the Hillary Duff in Cinderella Story kind of way – although, that’s very valid! I mean it more in the sense that you have to learn to advocate for yourself. If you’re struggling in a course, your first line of defense should be to talk to your instructor. They are the experts of that course and can help you in multiple ways – from giving you study tips to extra credit opportunities. In addition, seek out campus resources early – such as tutoring, advising, counseling and more. You’re already paying for those services via your tuition so might as well get your money’s worth. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, don’t wait. Talk to someone because trust that you’re not the only one feeling this way. Not sure where to start or what resources are even available? That’s okay! Ask your advisor, RA (resident assistant), peers or whoever you feel comfortable asking these initial questions.
3) Study Skills
How do you study now? Memorization? Reading over your notes? If that’s working for you, just keep doing that! I’m kidding. It won’t work in college. Most courses want you to begin thinking critically and be able to apply old concepts to new situations. That’s right – I’m talking about application based questions. Now is the time for active study strategies. If you’ve used flashcards before – that’s great because that can definitely be an active way to study the material. Furthermore, if you’re used to studying the day or even the week of the exam, be prepared to throw that out the window too. The best way to prepare for an exam is before and right after each lecture (i.e. long before the week of the test). Want to learn more about the study cycle and active study strategies? Head on over to the “Studying is Fun” tab (an only slightly sarcastically named category).
4) The Upper Hand on Imposter Syndrome
Chances are that even if you haven’t heard of Imposter Syndrome before, you’ve probably felt it at some point. It’s that gnawing voice in your head that keeps telling you that people are wrong about you when they see the good in you. That feeling of not actually being good enough or deserving of great opportunities. If you’ve felt this way, you know how crippling it can be. And again, you’re not the only one who feels this way. So let me be the first to tell you that you deserve to go to college, you are indeed smart and hard working enough to be successful. It’s time to bet on yourself and tell that crappy voice in your head to shut the hell up!