Back to school basics

Tyler Bar-Ness

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How to make the best of your first semester of college

College is the next step in a student’s educational journey, and it is a very different experience from high school. With the ability to create one’s own schedule, students coming from high school sometimes find the freedom overwhelming.
By following the suggestions below, incoming students can make their time at San Jose City College less stressful.

Have a goal in mind

As a student, you come to college for a reason. Some students are interested in transferring to a four-year university, others are looking for vocational training. “With a set goal, it is easier to know what classes you’ll need, and it will be easier to graduate,” said Dean of Counseling Roland Montemayor.

Craft a manageable schedule

Do not overload yourself with difficult or easy classes. Instead, aim for a healthy balance, Montemayor said. Taking too many difficult classes could swamp you with work, and taking too many simple classes does not stimulate your mind. Meeting with a counselor can help you build your schedule, as well as develop your education plan.

Invest in a school planner

Organization is a key to success, and nowhere is this more apparent than in higher education. With all the work that is expected of a new student, it is not hard to fall behind. Once you have a planner, take the syllabus your teacher gives you and enter all the important dates such as assignments, projects, tests.

Organize a study group

Nobody can predict complications that result in missing a class, but having people to rely on in a class can help you weather the storm of missed notes and assignments. You can help each other with assignments, and when testing time comes, you can quiz each other and share notes. Group study has been proven to be a very effective method of review, according to the research of Professor of Education Dr. R. Keith Sawyer of the University of North Carolina.

Get to know your teachers

Your professors will be with you every step of the semester, but they cannot help you unless you reach out to them and get to know them. Visit them during office hours or speak with them after class, and you can find out what they want to see in your assignments. It is also easier to ask a professor for help if you know them, and they will be able to give you better aid if you are known to them. They could suggest scholarships and academic opportunities to pursue, as well as connect you with other like-minded, driven individuals.
College can be a daunting experience, and an unwary student may find themselves lost in the moment. The advice above should help students find their bearings and smooth the transition from high school to community college and beyond.