How to get the most out of college

Nicole Tolbert is a senior at Texas State University. Her major is Nutrition and her minor is Psychology. She is a transfer student from another university, so she knows all about that process. She is a procrastinator at heart, but always gets her work turned in on time. She was an RA in an all-girls hall last year and met many awesome people through that job. She strives to keep her GPA high and her friends close. She is preparing to graduate soon and has lots of great tips to share about the college experience. Her hobbies include baking, scrapbooking, watching Netflix, enjoying the great outdoors, and visiting with her family and friends. Some random things she loves dearly include dark chocolate, cheesy romance movies, and her family’s pets. Keep an eye out for more articles written by Nicole!

Many students start out their first years away at school either completely concentrated on classes or completely concentrated on partying. To get the most out of your college experience you need a good balance: you have to do well academically, but also socially. If you concentrate too much on your social life, your grades will suffer; on the other hand, if you focus solely on your grades, your mental health may suffer! So how do you do both and succeed?
Well it starts with your first year. When you get to college, jump right in! Don’t tell yourself that you will wait until next year before joining any kind of fun group. Also, don’t wait until your higher-level courses to learn how to study well. Creating a balance that is fun but doesn’t stress you out may sound difficult. At times, it may be somewhat hard to balance your life—but life is just like that. Managing your time well is something you need to learn now, not later.
Let’s start with some good academic habits. If you are trying to graduate by a certain time, take a decent amount of classes each semester. Taking a small amount of hours in your first semester is probably an idea many believe is smart, thinking that one needs time to adjust to college and get used to their surroundings. This may be true for some, but for many, college is a fun adjustment and introductory classes are not too difficult. Taking that into consideration, and the fact that classes usually just get more difficult as you get into your upper level courses (depending on your major and what you are good at), you may want to opt for a higher number of hours in your first several semesters, as opposed to trying to take many difficult courses together toward the end. One way to make sure you are making smart decisions is to utilize academic advising. Set up an appointment with the advisor of your college and talk to them about the order in which to take courses. Start out your semesters organized and keep up with all of your graded papers, using them to study for exams!
Moving on to your social life. Try not to isolate yourself too much, except for maybe when you’re trying to study! Take part in on-campus events and programs in your dorm. Meeting your neighbors and getting to know others that live in the same place as you can create lasting relationships. Go to meetings for groups you may be interested in to test the waters. If you feel included and like the activities, consider becoming a member. You may want to join a group in your first year and stick with it (as long as it is going decently and you enjoy it!). Doing so will showcase your loyalty and commitment, and give you a chance to become one of its leaders later.

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