By: Justine D'Souza
World Education Services
Whether you’re leaving home for the first time, starting a new program as a well-traveled scholar, or returning to school after working for a long period, it’s important to engage in activities that will help you get situated in a new setting and start your year off in a positive way. Here are 10 things you should do during your first month of college:
- Form good habits: No one follows behavior patterns by chance. Create a schedule for yourself, refresh your study skills, practice stress relief techniques, and practice good habits that will carry you through the school year.
- Prioritize schoolwork: Learn what it takes to thrive and apply yourself to avoid falling behind. Obtain any course materials you can early, attend all classes and review sessions, complete assignments on time, and give yourself enough time to study.
- Organize your finances: It’s a good idea to be ready for any unexpected situations, so create a realistic budget for yourself and stick to it. Do your best to maintain a healthy amount of savings, and make all of your payments on time.
- Socialize: Branch out and meet as many new people as possible. It enhances your college experience to spend time with diverse people who broaden your perspective. Plus, the more people you meet, the more you build your network and position yourself for future success.
- Visit the career office: It’s useful to know how your school can help at all stages of your education, so visit your school's career office to discover what services it offers and how you can best utilize them. If you’re paying for school, it makes sense to take advantage of all the resources available to you.
- Meet with instructors: Attend office hours, participate in class, and clarify your concerns early in the semester. You don’t need to reach out daily, but build a good rapport so you fully understand course requirements and become acquainted with potential references.
- Build relationships: It’s best to start learning from knowledgeable authorities, such as deans and academic advisors as soon as possible when you start school. Proactively cultivating those relationships will prepare you for academic development and other opportunities at your university.
- Participate in extracurricular activities: Extracurricular activities help you learn new skills, make friends, gain leadership experience, and engage with your community. Try opening yourself to new possibilities and find at least one activity you can commit to.
- Think about your career goals: If you don’t know what kind occupation you want, spend some time researching positions and reflecting. Do you want a position that requires significant travel, or a quieter desk job? Do you want to be in direct contact with others, or a behind the scenes with less human contact? What activities do you want to undertake, and what skills do you want to employ? Asking yourself these questions will bring you closer to knowing what you want to do in your career. When you have an idea, be mindful of the courses and extracurricular activities you choose that best prepare you.
- Practice self-care: Eat well, exercise, get at least the minimum hours of sleep, and take enough time for yourself every week. The better you feel, the more potential you will have to succeed!
The start of a new school year can be overwhelming, and at times stressful. But with the right attitude and enough self-discipline, you will position yourself for a great academic year. Let us know what you think of these steps, and share your own tips with us in the comments below!
Justine D'Souza works as a Credential Examiner for the Evaluations Department at WES. She holds a B.A. in French with minors in International Business and Political Economy, Organizational Leadership, and Planning and Public Policy. She has experience teaching in both the U.S. and France and has been passionate about international education since her youth.