How to manage your first semester as a college freshman

For most, a day in the life of a high schooler was more pampered and complete than you may have realized. You had breakfast or at least the ingredients and tools to make it. If you didn’t wake up on time, mom or dad was on the job to wake you. Need supplies? No worries, just rummage through the office room. Done with math? Just walk over to ELA class, then school’s done for the day, and all the comforts of home await you.

One of the most common struggles for freshman is putting in place the practices and mechanisms that made high school life at home structured. While it seems pretty easy on paper to list the things you need to do or need to buy, such as an alarm clock and a day planner. It’s not easy to execute these practices on your own. It’s often critically difficult to realize how these somewhat simplistic practices become complex and overwhelming when ignored or not given the weight they deserve.

The overwhelming experience is common and manageable. However, there’s a point some students cross and can’t find their way back, as there’s such a cumulative effect where so many little challenges or failures now present a seemingly insurmountable wall, allowing frustration to grow and motivation wane.

When you accidentally sleep in and miss a class you just added a small ingredient to being overwhelmed. When you’re too rushed and skip a meal because you’re out of time, you just added another small ingredient. When you waste hours with ineffective studying because during class you didn’t take class notes, you just added another ingredient.  

These add up quickly.

You don’t have your daily practices and mechanisms in place like you did at home. No junk drawer. No secondary alarm clock. No eight minute break then being forced to the next class just a hundred yards away. To avoid adding little ingredient after little ingredient that will get you overwhelmed, it’s critical to create new dorm life practices to get you through.

An effective approach to not get overwhelmed is to take stock of your own personal struggles. Being prepared and oversleeping is common. Address them. Set multiple alarms, share class schedule with roommates, know your schedule’s specifics such as the distance from dorm to class and class to class. Start your own junk drawer and dump the things in there you often find yourself searching or asking mom for. Take extra notes in class.

Hey, it’s college, there are late nights, tons of new activities and more new experiences and personalities than imaginable, so being overwhelmed is sort of a given. However, If you build an environment to help you succeed you’ll end up with a manageable amount of overwhelmingness.

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