Lori Turner completed her Bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism at the end of 2013. Throughout her three-year course at James Cook University (JCU), she was the 2011 Freshman Representative for her college, the managing editor of her university’s online news journal and a dedicated member and co-founder of JCU’s first Journalism Society. She is now based in London with high hopes for a career in media.
College always seems so far away when you’re a high school student. Sure, it’s always in the back of your mind as you get older but it’s never been something to worry about. After all, how much different can it be to surviving high school?
As a person who has been through the ups and downs of both, I want to share with you my top six tips on getting through college that, although similar, reign different to high school experiences.
Step one: You’re no longer the big fish.
The second I stepped foot on to my college campus in my freshman year, one thing became clear to me – I am the new kid… Again! Gone are the days of knowing names, faces and places. I had to embrace the unknown. The experience was familiar to me, as it reminded me of the first day of high school, yet it had a certain feeling of accomplishment attached to it. A feeling of relief that I had made it this far, and I was finally in the last stage of my school career. It felt good. But I’ll never forget how small I felt that first day. This takes getting used to, but just remember that you’ll be the big fish again soon.
Step two: Include yourself.
Make yourself known to your campus and the people you share it with. Not in some elaborate (and potentially embarrassing) way, but simply by introducing yourself, what you’re studying and where you’re from. I consider myself to be an introvert and so this kind of stuff wasn’t particularly easy for me to do, but I knew it would help prepare myself for the future years I would be spending with these people in this place. It’s this kind of inclusion that landed me with the position of Freshman Representative for my college during 2011.
Step three: Get organized.
Organization is key. I’d always flirt with the idea of becoming a really organized student and doing anything I could for a bit of extra credit. But when you have lots of things going on (and in college, you will) it gets hard to organize yourself in a way that not only fits your routine but is also easy. You’ll find that you’re in charge of your day, unlike in high school where a set timetable ruled every moment of your life. In college, it’s mostly up to you to organise yourself. If you don’t turn up to class or miss a test, that’s on you. Nobody’s going to chase after you. You’re an adult now and as a consequence, you get treated like one!
Step four: Familiarize yourself.
This will happen over time. It’s about becoming familiar with the people around you and your place of learning. It makes it a lot easier to take in and digest new information when you are in a familiar surrounding with familiar people. This is why a lot of people (myself included) choose to study in the college library, for instance. It’s a place of books, of learning. What better place to learn, than in a place built for learning! It’s a familiar process, which makes us more comfortable. The sooner you can familiarize yourself with your new surroundings, the more comfortable your college experience will be.
Step five: Have goals.
And by ‘goals’, I don’t mean to have dreams or a five-year plan (although those are great, too). I mean realistic and achievable goals that you can set out for yourself to complete within your college years. For example, in my first year of college I set a goal to join a social sporting club. I ended my first year a member of my local touch rugby team. Your goals don’t have to be big or extravagant. They can be anything from wanting to save a few more bucks a month to wanting to read more or wake up at a decent time. Your goals don’t have to be related to your studies but having goals in any sense helps to focus your mind on a target. And by achieving your target, you’re setting yourself up to reach even bigger goals.
Step six: Hit the books.
This may seem like an obvious ‘tip’, but trust me – just because you’re in college now, doesn’t mean you have all the time in the world. I often felt overwhelmed trying to manage social life, having a casual job and on top of that trying to fit in time to study. I had a very nonchalant attitude towards time management and this was detrimental to my studies. If I could do college all over again, I’d make more of an effort to focus on one thing at a time rather than multiple things. It makes getting through college (and life) easier and less stressful in general.