Your first semester of college can be overwhelming. You're in a new place and responsible for everything about your day-to-day life, from your class schedule to when you decide to eat. Juggling homework, extracurriculars and a job can feel like too much to handle when you're thrown into it. After the first semester or two, you'll start to settle in, but until then here are some essential tips for surviving your first semester.
Limit works hours to between 15 and 20 hours each week
One way to help pay college expenses is to work a part-time job. However, working too many hours can take its toll on your schoolwork. If you have an on-campus job, there is a good chance that university policy will limit your working hours to allow time for study and help you maintain balance.If you work off-campus, the situation might be different. Speak with your employer about your school schedule and try to limit your hours, as well as try to get the same schedule each week. In a college town, many employers are accommodating of students.
Balance your class credit hours
While you want to take more than minimum credits allowed so that you can graduate on time, you also don't want to go overboard. Keeping up with the homework and more advanced projects required during college becomes difficult with a full schedule. Instead, maintain balance by taking fewer credits than the maximum allowed. This will give you time to work if you want and free up time for other activities.
Use a task manager to stay on top of your schedule
There are plenty of to-do apps that can help you stay on top of your schedule. Task managers help you manage due dates, study schedules and group meetings. Break your required projects down into more manageable pieces that can be completed over the course of a week, rather than trying to do everything at once. You'll feel less stressed when you review your schedule and to-do list and regularly tackle individual tasks.
Practice good health habits
You might be surprised to realize that good health habits can help you feel less overwhelmed during your first semester of college. Taking care of yourself is a good way to help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as help you more effectively tackle your classwork. Specific health habits to address include:
- Nutrition: What you eat matters. According to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there is a direct tie between brain function and nutrition. Additionally, when you eat right, you are also better able to manage your mood and cope with stress.
- Sleep: Lack of sleep impacts your ability to think clearly, deal with stress and remember details, according WebMD. One way to boost your performance at college is to get adequate sleep at night.
- Exercise: When possible, try to include exercise in your routine. Even five to ten minutes a day, on top of walking between classes, can make a difference. Research by the Mayo Clinic indicates that exercise can help you manage stress and avoid feeling overwhelmed, as well as help you keep your body and mind alert.
Establish good health habits early on at college, and you'll be less likely to succumb to the stress of the new situation.
Don't forget to have fun
Part of a well-balanced life is to have fun and relax. You don't need to go out and party every day, but you should make it a point to unwind for between 30 and 60 minutes a day, reading a good book, watching TV or playing a video game. You can also enjoy a social life, going out with your friends and participating in on-campus activities and clubs a couple times a week. These interactions help you stay positive and provide a good emotional support system.With a little effort and a focus on living a well-balanced life at college, you should be able to avoid being completely overwhelmed during your first semester of college.