Alexander’s Declassified Semester Survival Guide

By Alexander Campbell

Hello dear readers! Welcome back to college, and welcome to those of you just starting. It’s the start of a new semester here at Fitchburg State and getting back into the routine (or getting into it for the very first time) is always the first major hurdle of surviving the semester. I imagine a lot of you feel a little overwhelmed in these first couple of weeks since the semester started, but fear not! I have a short list of friendly tips and reminders for you to keep in mind as you tackle this fall head on with pen in hand, ramen in bowl, and goal in sight.

  1. Preparedness

As a student, you should always have the following ready to go for when you leave for school and readily available when you are in the classroom:

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Calculator
  • Notebook
  • Folder
  • Class-specific materials, including syllabus and books

Preparedness is crucial to semester survival and necessary for student excellence. If you’re the type to have a separate set of a notebooks and folders for each class, consider marking or color-coding them to help you to remember which set goes with which class, lest you lose your English class notes in your math class notebook on the day of an “open-notes” test.

KEEP YOUR SYLLABUS WITH YOU! The syllabus is your lifeline for your classes. It is the single most important piece of material, as it has the contact information for your professor and the homework, project, and classroom discussion schedule for that class. If you didn’t get a physical copy, print one out and stick it in your folders to bring with you to school and back until the last day of the semester!

  1. Note-taking

If you want to remember something, you write it down. Simple enough, but not quite so when you have a good 75 minutes worth of talking and chalkboard/PowerPoint information to digest per class.

To make things easier on yourself, first off, use a pen! The tip of a pen never breaks, so you never have to stop in the middle of a lecture to dig into your backpack for a pencil sharpener. Save your pencils for tests or in-class work that you’ll be graded on. If you make a mistake with a pen while taking notes just cross it off and keep on trucking with whatever it is you’re writing down.

That said, make sure you write your notes in a way that you will be able to comprehend them later. Little things like spelling mistakes aren’t important, but if you are taking a math class, for example, write little annotations next to your practice problems so you can comprehend the steps you took when you go to look at them later on when you’re doing homework.

  1. Time Management

It’s important to organize your time so that you can meet the requirements and deadlines for each week of classes, especially if you have a lot to do deal with in your personal time, such as kids or a job.

As we are now several weeks into the semester, you should’ve met with all of your classes at least a few times by now and have started to gain a grasp on what is expected of you homework wise, both in short-term and long-term.

Divide your free time into hours set aside for either schoolwork, or unwinding. See you if you can’t sneak in some work if you happen to catch yourself with time in between classes at college or some reading during breaks at work. Think of your tasks and deadlines each week as enemies you must outsmart in order to defeat!

Well, that’s all I have! I sincerely hope these tips prove helpful to you as you go on through the semester. Do bear in mind that there are several programs and departments that can help you out if you are struggling, such as Expanding Horizons, tutoring services, library staff, and student counseling. Have a good fall semester everyone!

fitchburg

A picture of Hammond Hall.

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Categories: Opinion

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