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Don’t make school harder than it is…

March 2, 2016 by Olivia Kathleen Richards   

The adjustment to college can either go really well or quite poorly. Some students who were active in high school continued to stay on top of things and other simply feel too comfortable in their bed. But, the freedom that you obtain when your parents drive away for the first time is insane. They actually don’t come back a few hours later. Success in college is all about what you do when no one is looking.

I’m not saying you need to schedule your day down to the half-hour, like I do, but it definitely works! Be organized. Get a planner. During sylly week, write down all of your exam dates and project due-dates that are outlined in the syllabus or online. In high school, the teachers tended to lead you through all the homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments — often for the entire semester — and expect you to be prepared. Buy an organizer, use an app, or get a big wall calendar — whatever it takes for you to know when assignments are due. Writing it on a dry-erase board in your room will make all you have to do, quite visible.

Go to class. Obvious, right? Maybe, but sleeping in, watching Netflix, and skipping that 8 am class will be tempting at times. Avoid the temptation. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you’ll also receive information from the professors about what to expect on tests, changes in due dates, etc.

Don’t procrastinate on your assignments. Finishing your online physics homework at 11:58pm when it is due at 11:59pm is not enjoyable. Procrastination makes things more difficult for you because you’ll probably end up always catching up and never getting ahead. That will give you unnecessary stress. It also helps if you actually do work ahead on those assignments that you know about in advance because then there is less for you to worry about later on. Then, you’ll be able to concentrate on other assignments and maybe even have more time to go out and have some fun in this fun place.

Take advantage of the free academic support that Penn State provides, FOR FREE. Students on this campus who don’t go to class oftentimes go down to LionTutors or Nittany Notes for what they could have gotten in class, from a Guided Study Group or by asking another student for help. When I heard of Penn State Learning, I just assumed that I would never need help. But, honestly, Guided Study Groups for physics have helped make my would-be B test grades, A test grades. The resources are all there. You just have to take advantage of them.

Make friends in your classes. Even if you think your best friend group is absolutely amazing and “no new friends” is your motto, think again. This university is full of thousands of potential friends. It would be fantastic if you expand your horizon beyond the three people you always hangout with and go out with. Simply talk to people and ask questions. Don’t be awkward and immediately ask where they go on the weekends but simply start something. The best time to do this is sylly week because, at that point, everyone is looking for new friends.

Until next time…


  1. Mary Ohara says:

    Great advice. Probably the most scary thing about being a freshman is making friends- especially in huge lectures. Personally, I was diagnosed with ADD my first semester which has made college a nightmare. Most people have a hard transition. But what is most important is staying on top of your course work.

  2. Idan Kantor says:

    Thanks for all the advice. Clearly you have some solid ethos because of how well you are doing in college. I never had a planner back in high school, but that all changes when I entered college. There is so many things to have to keep track of and it is so much easier to just right them down than trying to fill your head with all the time. I need my head filled with all of the things I learn in class, so no space for dates and times.

  3. Kandice Pettaway says:

    I am naturally a very organized person but after forgetting one quiz date and a meeting, I realized my planner was not enough. I now use my calendar on my laptop, phone, and apple watch to stay up to dat on things. Procrastination and not going to class can be very difficult things to avoid. So far I have been doing pretty well with going to class, but procrastination will always be my frenemy. Guided study groups are a savior and I also think that every freshman should take advantage of them! Plus, they help you create friends if you are shy and not outgoing like me! Keep giving this great advice Liv. These high school kids really need it.

    P.S. Temptation is a monster! Free time is the devil in college lol. So hard to stay focused sometimes.

  4. Courtney Hummel says:

    This is wonderful advice! I couldn’t agree more with your point about what success in college really is. Great job!

  5. Phillip R. Clauer says:

    Once again you have provided great advice which maybe I should consider following. I never had to rely on an organizer in high school, but this fall I ended up buying one because I felt overwhelmed by the seemingly endless lists of responsibilities and deadlines running through my head. After attending interview weekend and talking to all those optimistic and excited high school seniors, I thought about your blog and all the things I have learned in only a short 8 months that needs to be bestowed upon all those future Millennium Scholars. I think this blog is a great way to do so. Looking forward to reading more in the future.

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