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Top Tips for Surviving the First Semester

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By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS

This article originally appeared on our fellow APUS blog, Online Learning Tips.

One of the biggest transitions a person can make is starting their first semester of college. Whether you just completed high school or are taking a less traditional route, beginning college is one of the most stressful situations you will have to deal with in life. However, getting your college education is absolutely worth that challenge. Many college graduates will say that their first semester was the hardest to deal with, and that is not surprising. Below are some tips that can help you navigate through your first semester of college.

  1. Use all of your resources. Not only will you have to go through the admission requirements at the school of your choice, but you will also have to complete the steps to receive Federal Student Aid (FSA) if you will be utilizing it. Filling out a FAFSA for the first time is always stressful, so make sure you talk to the financial aid advisors at your school if you have any questions.
  2. Gather all of your personal documents before embarking on the tip above. You will more than likely need information pertaining to social security, your taxes, standardized test scores, and any other information your school requires. If you have all of these documents gathered beforehand, it can reduce your stress level significantly.
  3. Once you actually start in your classes, it is important to form good habits if you do not already have them. It is important to learn the material in each class, but overarching skills that are absolutely necessary to be successful in college are time management skills, great study habits, and understanding that the exchange of ideas in a college classroom are much less censored than in other settings. You will be exposed to many new opinions and viewpoints, so try to embrace that.
  4. Try not to become overwhelmed. It takes a lot of hard work, discipline, and determination to be successful during your first semester of college. Since it can be a rough transition, it is easy for freshman to get discouraged. If you are struggling in a class, seek out a tutor. If something is not going right in your personal life, many colleges offer counselors who specialize in helping college students cope with significant changes and stress.
  5. Have fun. The old cliché is that college is supposed to be the best four years of your life, and it really is an enjoyable time if you have the right mindset. College is the best opportunity for you to gain worldly knowledge, meet lifelong friends, and achieve a very prestigious accomplishment.

When you start your first semester of college, you will probably have a mixed range of emotions. Surely there will be excitement, anxiety, happiness, and maybe even a little fear. College is not easy, nor should it be. If you follow some of the above tips, you should be able to make your first semester (and hopefully every one after that) a major success!


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