by Shaelyn Saraceni
Fake it till you make it is some of the best advice I can give first year college students. For those who are feeling anxious about beginning their collegiate journey, know that you are not alone, and things do get easier.
On my first day of college, I was nervous and anxious. I had graduated from high school only weeks before and decided to take a summer class at the college. The professor was amazing, and I ended up taking another one of her classes the Spring semester of my first year. As the Fall semester rolled around, I realized three of the biggest differences between high school and college: the professors place the responsibility of passing or failing solely on the student (but will help you succeed if you work hard), students and professors can develop mutual respect and lasting connections, and it is more important for students to progress good critical thinking and time-management skills than memorize facts.
First year jitters are natural. Anxiety inherently increases when people are placed in unknown and/or unpredictable environments. However, much of the anxiety that comes with the first year of college is irrelevant to one’s education. Many people are focused on themselves, and have thoughts such as “Does my outfit look okay,” “Are they staring at me,” “If I get up to go to the bathroom, will everyone look at me,” “What has this professor talked about for the last two hours,” “This sounds hard, and I’m too tired to pay attention,” “I want my mom,” and “Maybe if I nod my head, I’ll understand what they just said.” Not everyone will have the attention span for or interest in a certain class. However, an easy way to help break the habit of zoning out while the professor talks is by trying to visualize what they are saying. Visualizing and taking notes will help engage one’s awareness of what is being discussed. Fake being interested until you actually are. Think about the different ways that the subject being discussed could apply to real life situations.
Universities and Colleges are higher education institutions built to diversify the mind and teach critical thinking skills to students. It also prepares and trains them for the “real” world in general. No matter what degree one chooses to pursue, professors and faculty will be there to help students along the way. Do not take this fact for granted. Professors did not go through years of higher education to make their students fail. People can only gain the knowledge they put into their education and work at to receive. This may sound cheesy, but it’s true. If a student has a bad attitude and feels like they are being forced to take classes, they will not thrive and learn. Education does not guarantee you anything, and it can only give you the opportunity to be great when personal incentive and self-discipline are practiced. As Albert Einstein famously said, “The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.”
Classes become more difficult, but coping with these difficulties thrown your way becomes less painful over time when good study habits are practiced. If you are confused about an assignment, the best thing you can do is go to your professor's office hour or email them. Folsom Lake College has some amazing resources available to its students as well, including a fully functional tutoring center. To learn more about the tutoring center, click here. Another amazing resource, which helped me through my first year tremendously, is the online library database. Learn how to use it as soon as possible, and click here to discover more about it.
Welcome to college, first year students. Whether you came straight from high school, took a year off, or are a more experienced adult looking to gain a degree, I hope Folsom Lake College treats you well.
For any experienced college students or professors who may be reading this, feel free to comment your personal tips for surviving and thriving in college below.
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