A friend of mine from my days in corporate America with AT&T has two wonderful young daughters. The oldest, Hannah, is a nursing student at Augusta University. Hannah’s younger sister is about to graduate from high school. So…. she recently wrote a letter to her little sister full of amazing college advice. As the mom of a college freshman, I can say that clearly college bound kids can use all the advice they can get. Hannah’s advice actually took my breath away. If you have a college bound kid, make them read this….and then make them read it again and really think about it….and then ask them to put an action plan in place to follow this advice. Hannah obviously put a lot of time and effort into this letter for her baby sister…..and lucky for the rest of us she agreed to let me share it:
Hannah’s mom and I understand not all of these apply to every situation/school/student/professor/major/perspective. Please do not be offended – We are just sharing in case some of these tips can help your graduate as they prepare for and adjust to college.
College Tips for my Sister by Hannah Hooper
- Get involved in clubs/orgs on campus with an OPEN MIND!! In the beginning, just sign up for everything. As you start to see the crowds in each org, you can decide who you want to be around. Not only does it let you make new friends, it is ESSENTIAL for your resume when you apply to your major’s program and future jobs.
- You are who you hang out with – make smart decisions on your friends. Being around smart people who make good grades will motivate you to do as well/better in your grades. Being around people who slack off or spend every weekend partying will tell you to stop studying and come drink with them. Best time to try out different friend groups is in the beginning. Don’t ever feel bad for distancing yourself from someone who is not healthy for you.
- STAY ORGANIZED. Get a cute planner, as soon as you know your schedule or get your Professor’s syllabus, write everything down. Due dates, exams, papers, finals, etc.
- Plan your free time. This will depend on your course load and how much time they demand. Likely, as you get to your major – oriented classes, you’ll get busier. Make sure you’re still spending time having fun, with friends, and doing things that de-stress.
- Sit in any of the first 3 rows in your classes. This will give you more of an opportunity for your professor to notice you (important when you’re begging for extra credit at the end of the semester), eliminates distractions from people talking in the back, and makes you less likely to zone out or be on your phone.
- Find a safe place (coffee shop, park, café, etc.) that can be your escape. Go here when you’re stressed, need to get sh*t done and not be distracted, or have a quiet time.
- Quizlet is going to be your best friend
- SLEEP!!! Getting 6-7 hours of sleep will help you so much more on your exams than staying up all night. I’ve only pulled 2 all-nighters to study for exams/lab practicals in all of college, and my overall grades are a lot better than some of my friends who pull all-nighters before every exam. Use your time wisely, and study a couple weeks or week leading up to the exam. Better to over study.
- Get to class early. arrive at class ~15-10 minutes early. Especially the first week of classes. Secure “your seat” on the first or second day of class. Plus, Professors notice the students who are ready before class and those who try to sneak in late.
*side note: DO NOT sit next to a chatty cathy or tommy talks a lot. You’ll miss important information. You can still sit with your friends, but maybe sit in front of them instead of next to them.
- Forget what you’ve heard. A lot of the things your teachers/people tell you about college isn’t true. A lot of professors use powerpoints to lecture (they don’t just talk). A lot of professors post their powerpoints online for you to take notes. People also say Professors NEVER give extensions or move exam dates – for some profs this is true, but if you make a good case and give a legitimate reason, its 100% possible.
- DO NOT listen to your professor when they say, “this book is required.” Ask someone who took the class before you. Half of the “required” books, you won’t even open once.
- Set goals for yourself (daily accomplishments, weekly, monthly, semesterly)
- Keep in mind, you only have your classes for one semester. If you hate it, push through, only a few months. If you love it, soak it all up, get to know your Professor by talking to them after class or scheduling a meeting with them during their office hours. You’ll need recommendation letters later.
- Build your support system!!!! Soooo important to have 2 or 3 encouraging, positive, yet level-headed, realistic, honest people close to you. They are going to be the people who will reassure you that you didn’t bomb a test when you’re feeling depressed and the people who aren’t afraid to call you out if you start to slip into bad habits.
- GO. TO. CLASS. I know. Its 8am, and you were up late. I know you have a million things to do. I know they’ll record their lecture and post it online (let’s be honest you and I both know you aren’t going to actually watch it – it will just be background noise). I promise you will retain 80% more info if you go to class and LISTEN to the lecture than reading the notes on your own later.
- This may not be the most kind perspective, but don’t loan people your notes, textbooks, study materials, etc. Three things can happen: 1) you don’t get them back, 2) you get them back, but then you find yourself being chased down by them after every single class so they can take a picture of your notes you worked hard on while they watched Netflix, or 3) suddenly you have 100 new “best friends” who all know what a great note-taker you are.
*If none of those options bother you, make some money off of it. Charge them $5 per lecture. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- If things go south with your roommate, talk to her about it early. Don’t let it build up or be passive aggressive. Not feeling “safe” or comfortable at home will make you miserable.
- You don’t have to gain the Freshman 15. Exercise (don’t be like me), make healthy choices (just because its free doesn’t mean you should eat it), and stay hydrated.
- The MLA format you’ve learned is useless. %99 of Professors use APA.
- If you have extra time, consider an on-campus job (like working at the athletic center). These jobs usually let you study/do homework on the job (and you’ll get some $$).
- Getting a tutor does not make you look dumb. Not getting one when you need help does.
*If your school has a writing center, take your papers to them, and they can help you get a better grade on a paper. FOR FREE
- When things get tough, if you’re overwhelmed, remind yourself WHY you are here. Don’t forget your end goal. Let it be the reason why you wake up and go to class at 8am.
- Lastly, make the freaking most of it. Leave with no regrets. These can easily be the best 4 years of your life.