It is inevitable that transitioning into college will be difficult for at least some of the incoming freshman class. While this difficulty can be caused by a variety of factors, such as homesickness, acclimatizing to a new environment, and social networking, I think that having to adapt oneself to the fast-paced, rigorous curricula offered at Rice and the work rhythm of a college student constitutes one of the bigger challenges for many. To exemplify this, not even midway through my first semester my friends and I had already agreed that high school was such a joke and were laughing at our past selves for whining about school at all.
Almost always, new Rice students will come in with different levels of preparation although they are all highly qualified, and some will find themselves living in a dreamlike state during the first semester. This is not uncommon at all, so there is nothing to be ashamed of if you feel that way. However, I believe that the more quickly new students adjust themselves to college-level rigor, the earlier they can begin to reap the benefits of a college education. So here are some tips for you to start getting comfortable with the life of a college student once you become one:
- Be sure to challenge your limits, but don’t stretch them too far. It is always good to get ahead and push the prerequisites out of the way, but not everybody is built to handle 6 (or even 7) time-intensive classes right off the bat. Be ambitious and feel free to try things out: take a lot of courses and find out what you like! But whenever it gets too overwhelming, don’t feel pressured to back down. You have time to make up for it. Yes, you actually do. Also, GPA is important (or perhaps not, you decide), and you probably would want to optimize your schedule for the best outcome.
- I was quite a slacker last year and frequently put off stuff until the last minute—don’t do that. When you have time, get your homework done. Do your assigned reading. Don’t be me and start prepping for every exam the night (or two nights, sometimes) before. I was all right in the end, but I’m not sure if my study habits were healthy at all. You may not believe this, but getting things several days ahead of time actually makes you feel good, confident, free, and in control. You will find the ability to frontload efficiently to be a crucial skill as you begin to take more major courses.
- Manage your time wisely. Many of you might think this is easy but it usually isn’t that simple. We humans are born to be imperfect and readily access excuses for wasting time. Make yourself a plan, an agenda—whatever it is—and adhere to it. This not only helps you get things done, but it also provides a sense of being organized and on track, which is integral to your work rhythm.
- Release your excess stress. A moderate dosage of stress keeps you functional and motivated, but too much of it can be troublesome for your physical and mental soundness. Get involved in extracurricular activities and make more friends! Find out about entertainment events on campus! Go grab some bites in H-Town! Whatever you do, be sure to maintain a good balance between working and having fun so that you can stay operational while being happy.
It is important that you establish your own work rhythms quickly upon entering college. Being comfortable is always better than getting caught up in confusion and disorientation. I’m sure that most of you already know these things, but I thought that having these tips out here could remind you of their importance and help with getting you on the road. Welcome to college, and good luck!