In my first semester of college, I basically bombed and barely gave myself any hope of being able to score high enough second semester to keep my academic scholarship (click here to read).
Before starting the second semester I had to have a come to Jesus meeting with myself. I accepted full responsibility of what occurred and decided to make some changes.
- Cut my work hours down to weekend only
- Library time was mandatory after class
- Meet with my professors if I needed additional help
- Have fun when work is done
Now lets see what that looked like in my first year of college experience second semester review.
Classes I had spring semester were:
- World History (Actually had class with my future wife…but we didn’t talk much)
- Sex Ed
As you can probably tell, I had a FUN semester with six classes (worth 18 credit hours). The typical class load is 15 credit hours a semester so thanks to me dropping a class my first semester, I just had to make things harder on myself LOL.
Honestly, this MADE me develop time management skills to make sure things ran smoothly. See, I’m one of those people that has that inner ticking clock that once something is due, I GOT to do it or it bothers me. Thankfully, I maintained enough self-discipline with my new friend…
True to what I claimed, I started hitting the library IMMEDIATELY once my classes were done for the day.
This ensured a few things:
- I completed my homework BEFORE getting home
- Allowed me freedom to do whatever once I got home without worrying about work due
- Anything I needed to tweak or review could easily be done before the wonderful midnight deadline
Not surprisingly, Biology took the MAJORITY of my study time with the sheer amount of volume I had to review. I would take over a small table in the library or a work cubby and work religiously for hours.
The Pomodoro app was my sidekick making sure I took a break every now and again. Sometimes I would only be there a few hours and other times I would be there until almost closing time.
Either way, once I left I could always have peace of mind that I wouldn’t have to stay up until 3 am finishing stuff.
Picking and Choosing My Work Days
I had a bittersweet time cutting my work hours down therefore decreasing my pay.
When it came to my work schedule, I chose to work the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) usually 8-12 hour work shifts to try and maximize what I could bring in at $7.75 an hour. as a bagger/stock boy at the local IGA.
I didn’t make TONS of money but enough to only have to touch my emergency money (aka revenue check) towards the end of school when projects and exams needed more dedication.
Overall, my thinking was that I should free up as much of my week as possible to ensure I could complete any homework or projects before the weekend. Yeah, it SUCKED being broke but I needed to keep my scholarship.
Thankfully, this worked to my advantage as I HARDLY EVER had anything that made me study on the weekend other than…biology (GAH).
If there is one piece of advice I can pass to most future college students it is to get to know your professor.
Most professors are SUPER awesome people that want to help. Remember, they were once college students too so they know some about the struggle.
I started being proactive about talking to my professors later in my college journey but STRONGLY encourage freshman to talk and be candid with their advisors/professors.
You don’t have to be a teacher’s pet but being casual and treating them like another human being and not your baby sitter will go a long way with them.
Overall, they want to see you pass and be successful. Not one professor I ever came across, even with reputations, ever turned down a student that wanted to help themselves. So even if you aren’t a social butterfly, just reaching out for help can go a long way if you maybe need a point or two to pass the class.
Calculated Fun Time
Can this really be a thing? Absolutely!
Mostly what I meant by “calculated” is sticking to my guns when I had to stop socializing or playing video games to ensure I got my school work done. (aka doing the work before I put myself in those situations).
For me, this wasn’t too hard to do because if you’ve ever felt responsible and the inner urge to take care of something becomes overwhelming, well that was and still is definitely me.
Being successful in school doesn’t mean you have to be antisocial (though, I totally get it for my introverted peeps), but when it comes down to separating business from pleasure, always do what is best for you, even if it goes against the grain.
How did Spring Semester End?
Spring Semester 2012 ended with a BANG.
I needed a 3.4 GPA for the semester in order to keep my academic scholarship and managed to score a 3.4 on the nose!
Exam week I had FOUR exams on the same day. The only thing that didn’t scare me about this was the fact that I earned enough points in one of those four classes to have an A no matter the result of my exam. The other three exams were definitely a little more stressful but I ended up doing well on them too.
Funny enough, the one class I struggled with all semester, Biology, I ended up scoring my highest test grade of the semester.
I was SUPER ANXIOUS waiting for the results because it basically determined if I would keep my scholarship. When the results came, I was at my friend’s house and went ballistic the moment I saw my grade posted. My friend was just confused but happy for me.
Anything You Would Have Done Different?
Honestly, not much with the circumstances surrounding me.
Looking back, I probably did the best with what I had available to me in my approach to school. That semester I managed to unlock the super power of time management and develop the self-discipline to narrow my focus and get the job done.
On a personal level, I actually had a class with my future wife and funny enough, I maybe had one conversation in there with her. I would TOTALLY go back and mess with her more but knowing how the butterfly effect works she’d probably end up NOT going on a date with me LOL.
Any Other Suggestions/Advice to First Year College Students?
I’ll follow up with a specific article to what I think would be AWESOME to know as a first year college student.
Mainly my words of wisdom would include:
- Make school a priority
- Develop time-management skills and self-discipline
- Try to pick your work days wisely
- Leave enough time in-between homework or projects that you can tweak it for the best grade possible
- Go out to the school events and connect with people that have similar interests
- Find out what you like and dislike
- Be strictly academic
- Be antisocial
- (If you can help it) Work all the time
- Forget to make time for yourself to recharge or do stuff for you
- Give up
I am so thankful for those of you that took a moment to read over my first year of college experience!
What was your first year of college like? Any similarities to mine?
For those who are about to go off to college, are you afraid of anything or what are you most looking forward to? Happy to answer any questions below!
Hopefully COVID-19 doesn’t prevent future freshman from starting their college journey but who knows at this point.
Also, if there is anything I can give perspective on in future articles let me know.