Welcome to the second installment in Emma’s Guide for Incoming Freshmen. Now that I’ve given you guys some pointers on your living space, let’s move on to what will be happening in that living space a good portion of the time: studying and homework. I made it through my first year with only a few breakdowns and maybe one all-nighter. Academics at Ave are challenging, but definitely worth it. I am also in the Honors Program, which offers extra enrichment as well as additional challenges. I did well grade-wise, but it did take quite a bit of effort.
The most important piece of advice I can offer you is: start off the year with good study habits. I know it will be hard transitioning from summer and orientation right into school, but I promise, it will pay off. Ask anyone, second semester is a lot harder than the first, and will require you to write your first college research paper. Even though your desk will often look like this, if you start off right, you should be set for the whole year.
I also would suggest figuring out, if you don’t already know, what your learning style is and how you study best. For me, I have to write things over and over again. When I studied for my exams, I hand-wrote my study guides—color coded and everything. If you find yourself getting stuck while studying, switch it up a little. Try moving from your desk to the floor (works for me), going to the library, stopping in the chapel, studying outside by the canal or in a gazebo, take a break if you need to. My candy drawer is what keeps me on a roll when I’m studying.
Now I’ll be honest with you, I did not always keep up with the assigned reading for some of my classes. But I will say, as soon as you start falling behind, it gets harder and harder to catch up and suddenly you’ve hit midterms or finals and you have half of a history book to teach yourself in a couple nights. Trust me, you want to do your absolute best to stay on top of the reading, especially since it will help you participate in class discussions.
Speaking of class discussions, go to class. I know it’s tempting to skip, but do your best not to give in. Not only will you miss important information and discussions in your classes, but also classes at Ave are genuinely enjoyable and the professors are all extremely passionate about their subject matter.
My next piece of advice would be: do not procrastinate. However, since I am probably one of the world’s biggest procrastinators, I still have to remind myself to stop putting things off. Instead I suggest managing your time and keeping your procrastination in check as much as you can. Keep a calendar, an agenda, write a to-do list, start as early as possible. I found that writing all my tasks down keeps me organized, so I don’t forget anything, and I feel accomplished when I check something off. My brain stops functioning properly around a certain time in the night/early morning, so I have yet to pull a full all-nighter. However there have been times when I’ve stayed up, sitting on my floor, munching on Cheezits, trying to stay awake to finish a research paper and only getting a couple hours of sleep before my 8:15 class. It will happen to you, don’t worry though, it happens to the best of us. Grab your coffee and snacks and you’ll get through it. Head over to the 24-hour room in the library and push through those last two pages with your fellow classmates.
Go ahead, roll your eyes, but trust me on this one. Start out strong, establish good study habits for yourself, and earn those good grades.