Tips on How to Start College on the Right Foot

roomateExcitement, nervousness, and curiosity are just three of the emotions felt by a college freshman in late summer. Most students who are preparing to start college want to do everything they can to set a positive tone for the school year. Fortunately, there are several steps that students can take to accomplish this goal. Take a look at some practical tips for how to start college on the right foot:

Walk the Campus
It’s important for new students to arrive early to each class on the first day. This gives them the opportunity to choose a seat and relax a little bit before class begins. So a few days before school starts, it’s a good idea for students to get a campus map and walk to the buildings where their classes will be held. It may also be helpful to make notes on the map regarding the route. Knowing exactly where to go can reduce a student’s stress level on the first day of class.

Create a Study Schedule
Creating a study schedule is one of the most effective tips for starting college on a positive note. Once a student receives their course schedule, it’s time to create a study plan. Ideally, a student should dedicate the same amount of study time to every course. But once school starts, students may have to adjust their study schedule to focus more time on challenging courses.

It’s important for students to make efficient use of the free time they have during weekdays. For instance, say a student has just two classes on Monday and Wednesday that both take place in the morning. This gives them the opportunity to schedule study time on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Not surprisingly, a student’s study schedule may experience frequent adjustments throughout the semester.

Record Important Dates
Lots of students who are starting college have a full schedule of courses, sports activities, club meetings, and social events. As a result, they can sometimes lose track of important dates related to various assignments, tests, etc.

One of the most helpful tips for starting college on a good note is to compile all critical dates in one place. Students can use their smartphone, a wall calendar, or even a desk calendar to help them in this process. After getting a syllabus from each professor on the first day of class, students can transfer the important due dates onto their virtual or paper calendar. With a quick check of the calendar, students can see quiz and test dates as well as due dates for papers. Those who get organized at the beginning of the school year are setting themselves up for academic success!

Get to Know Professors
Students wondering how to start college on the right foot can make a point of introducing themselves to their professors. Whether a class is held in an auditorium with 100-plus students or takes place in a small classroom with 12 individuals, it’s a good idea for students to get to know their professors. A student may go up to their professor after the first class, give their name, and ask a question about a chapter in the textbook. As a result, the professor knows who the student is and will likely recognize them again if they want to discuss a quiz grade or ask for clarification on an assignment.

Professors appreciate students who are diligent about their work and ask questions that can help them get more out of the course material. Students who start college with enthusiasm are putting themselves in the right state of mind.

Our staff at Veritas Prep understands the importance of starting college on the right foot. We prep high school students for college by teaching them effective strategies they can apply on any section of the SAT or ACT. We also review practice tests with them to pinpoint skills that need improvement. This enables them to submit their best performance on the SAT or on the ACT, which can expand their options when it comes time to apply to college.

Our admissions consultants have firsthand experience with what college officials across the country are looking for when they evaluate student applications. We use our expert resources to help students as they prepare to send applications to the top colleges in the United States. We are proud to offer students knowledgeable online instruction, expert guidance, and much more as they pursue their goal of higher education.

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

7 Tips to Make the Most of Your College Office Hours

ProfessorEvery college orientation I ever attended strongly emphasized the importance of attending office hours in building relationships with professors, allowing students to explore subject material in greater depth, and laying groundwork for strong letters of recommendation in the future. Even so, most college students I know either glean very little from office hours or do not attend them at all.

Office hours were by far the best and most useful parts of my college classes, but it took me most of my undergraduate career to start making the most of them. Here’s what I learned:

1) Just go. Individual attention from professors is rare and valuable, especially in large classes (like the ones I take at UC Berkeley, which sometimes hold hundreds of students.) Often, office hours is the only one-on-one time you’ll ever get.

2) Be sure you’ve done the reading and are caught up on the class. It is both embarrassing for you and impolite towards your professor to use his or her extra time to make up for work you should have already done. Make a good impression by showing that you take his or her class seriously.

3) Don’t be scared. Professors are often more relaxed and approachable in office hours than they are during classtime. Many enjoy working with undergraduates, or prefer more individual interaction with students over the more impersonal environment of the classroom. (Also, if you haven’t had much experience with it before, it is useful and important to learn to be comfortable interacting with superiors and authority figures. Office hours are a great way to do that.)

4) Have some questions prepared in advance. Don’t feel limited to only talking about the class; professors are often a great source of career planning advice, information about your field of interest, and tips about what other classes you might find interesting.

5) Be interested in the answers you get. Office hours allow you to learn about a field from the experts themselves. Take advantage of your access to them – and strike a better rapport with your professor – by taking a real interest in the insights your professor offers (or at least making a sincere effort to).

6) Be honest about how well you’re doing in the class. If you’re struggling to understand a concept in your class and have made an honest effort to do so, it’s perfectly fine to admit it. Your professor can help, and will appreciate your honest; he or she wants you to learn their material just as much as you want to pass the class.

7) Stay open-minded. Office hours aren’t just a networking opportunity. Networking for networking’s sake has its advantages sometimes, but your experience in office hours will be more productive and meaningful (and your letter of recommendation, if you get one, will be better) if you really get to know the person you’re talking to.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.