Keeping HOPE alive: a guide to making the most of your freshman year.

Congratulations, upcoming freshman! High school is over and now begins the rest of your life. College is a time for students to develop valuable skills to help their future careers and to have fun along the way.

College represents a very different environment from high school. Whether it is a geographical shift or a mindset shift, college has its own unique set of challenges compared to high school. The newly-organized workload is nothing to scoff at, and new students may quickly find themselves overwhelmed if they fail to adjust.

The first step to ensuring that one’s freshman year goes smoothly is to acknowledge the difference between high school and college class structures. In high school, classes are around seven hours each day for five days a week.  In comparison, a full-time college student’s workload is approximately 12-15 hours spread across the entire week, and the same classes do not happen each day. Students spend less time physically in the classroom in college when compared to high school. This means that students can expect a lot more free time on their hands.

However, the time difference is not too significant when one accounts for the various at-home assignments that supplement the in-class lectures. Therefore, an essential aspect of making the most of your freshman year is learning how to manage the downtime between classes and outside of class effectively.

Procrastination is a dangerous game, and students will find that their college professors may not be as sympathetic to your plight as high school teachers are. Therefore, students must stay on top of their work outside of class and use their time wisely.  Paying attention to the syllabuses for each class will help time management because the entire schedule is known to you. 

Practical usage of ICollege, Georgia State’s hub for your class schedules and calendar, is another essential skill to learn as a freshman. In addition, Georgia State’s ICollege can send notifications to students’ phones to remind them of upcoming assignments. Establishing good study habits goes a long way when ensuring that you keep HOPE(a merit-based scholarship) alive.

The newfound freedom of being at Georgia State compared to high school can feel intoxicating. First-year students living in one of the dorms do not have to worry about their parents breathing down their necks, nor do they see the same set of teachers every day. Freedom is liberating, but it also means that students must bear the burden of their responsibilities on themselves.

Without the influence of parents or truancy laws, the idea of skipping class becomes much more tempting.  It is almost inevitable that someone will miss one or two lectures during their freshman year, and there is nothing wrong with that. Maintaining physical and mental health are both valid reasons for skipping class.

 It is essential to understand that habitually skipping classes is a bad idea. Not only does it create a backlog of notes to catch up on, but it also essentially wastes money since students must pay for their classes. 

Finally, do not be afraid to drop a class. Dropping a course before the midpoint will give you the grade of “W’ for the semester and will not negatively affect your GPA. Sometimes lessening the workload in one class can be much more beneficial for your schedule than trying to tough it out for the rest of the semester.

Learning how to manage college’s new challenges will help ensure that your undergraduate years go as smoothly as possible.