Each New Semester is a New Beginning at UB
For some students, the transition to college life goes smoothly. Other students may struggle academically, socially, or emotionally during their first semester. And some of these issues may carry over as students approach later semesters of their college experience. Whatever happened to you during the first semester, good or bad, you are going to be here for additional semesters with newfound knowledge about yourself and college life; each semester is a chance to reflect and move ahead with this knowledge and a plan of attack.
I asked my second-semester freshmen to briefly write about their first semester experiences and the things that were most difficult for them in their adjustment to college. Here are just a few excerpts from that assignment:
I got caught up in the freedom that I had. I made new friends and put them above my assignments.”
Although I attended every class, I couldn’t keep up with my assignments and my job.”
My problem was that I procrastinated a lot in getting my assignments done.”
I was totally disorganized. I would start an assignment and never complete it because I would begin work on another assignment.”
It’s not difficult to get caught up in your newfound freedom, but this freedom can come at a cost. In order to avoid the pitfalls of most students, let’s take a look at how you can be more productive and still enjoy college life.
- SETTING GOALS
- Setting goals in school is just as important as setting your life’s goals.
- Goals provide you with a purpose for what you are doing.
- Set goals that are attainable and specific.
- Know the difference between long-term and short-term goals.
- Don’t set a goal that states that you will “get better grades” or that you will “try harder.” When you set a goal, be specific in stating how you will accomplish that goal. For example, you can say that you will work more closely with a tutor and your English professor to improve your writing ability.
- UNDERSTANDING THE SYLLABUS
- The syllabus is an agreement between you and your professor.
- The syllabus explains the professor’s policies.
- The syllabus explains what is expected of you by the University.
- The syllabus makes you aware of class lectures and assignments.
- Ben Franklin’s adage “Don’t put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today” holds true here because many students do not see the urgency of beginning an assignment the week before it’s due. You should begin to think about and outline your thoughts on the assignment so that you will have a clear direction in approaching the assignment.
- Read and understand the attendance policy of each one of your professors that is found on the syllabus.
- Understand that there is also an attendance policy for the University.
- Professors work very hard in the preparation of their daily lessons, so you must be there in order to take part in discussions and understand concepts defined through the lectures.
- SPEAK WITH YOUR PROFESSORS ON A REGULAR BASIS
- Professors are people too. We want you to be successful here. Keep in touch with us when you do not understand something.
- It is also important to let your professors know when you will miss class, preferably prior to the absence.
- USE CAMPUS RESOURCES SUCH AS THE TUTORING CENTER
- There are many resources available on campus that can assist you with personal problems as well as your schoolwork. Take advantage of them.
In closing, the stress of college is often caused by making mistakes along the way; the key is to use those mistakes as learning experiences. As each new semester arrives, with a new plan in place you will be capable of attacking college in a strong, positive way.
Tom Sacco is an adjunct professor of English at University of Bridgeport, where he has taught since 2008. He has a master’s degree in English and is also a certified reading consultant. He has taught for 49 years and spent many of those years teaching English, literature, and writing on the high school level in diverse communities which contributes to his ability to relate to a college population. Professor Sacco is the recipient of the 2020/2021 Excellence in Teaching Award from University of Bridgeport.