Although college is an amazing experience, sometimes people forget that the primary reason you attend is for the academics. And while it’s always good to challenge yourself, in your first semester as a first-year, it’s probably better to pick classes that you know that you can handle.
That being said, there are many ways you can go about using your time to prepare for class, and it goes way beyond just writing your papers and doing your assigned homework. If you want to get good grades and be prepared for finals, it is better to space out your studying throughout the semester instead of just cramming right before tests or quizzes. (Trust me, it never works out too well.) Luckily, there are plenty of ways to manage your course load, or even just to get a little ahead of the class. (It’s better than struggling to keep up!)
First and foremost, you absolutely-positively-imperatively need to pay attention in class. After all, your professor is there to teach, and you won’t do yourself a favor by skipping class to take an afternoon nap instead. Taking notes in class is pretty much expected of you, since your professor will most likely structure their tests around the same things they brought up in class. (And after class, make sure to reread your notes as much as possible. It’s probably the most important thing for your success in the class!)
Another perfect resource is the textbook you buy for each class at the beginning of the semester. By looking over a chapter before your next lecture, you can keep up in class more easily, and just add onto the notes you’ll have already taken. And if note-taking from a textbook bores you to tears, you can break each chapter into sections, taking ten minute breaks in-between. (Which is the perfect amount of time to gulp down a cup of coffee)
Next, you should always be comfortable with approaching your professor with any questions you have from either the lecture or the textbook. Even if their office hours do not fit your schedule, you can always email them about making an appointment so you can stop in. Often there are practice problems in the back of your textbooks, and if you cannot come up with the solution to a question (or you are completely lost on a particular topic ), your professor will definitely be able to explain it to you in a way that you can understand.
As well as talking to your professor, sometimes it can help to collaborate with your fellow classmates, or even people you know that have taken the class already. The library also has tutors for many topics, which will have you consulting with a student who is well versed in the subject. But sometimes talking to your peers is just simpler, since all it takes is a text to meet up somewhere to go over notes. You’d be surprised at all the different way people interpret the material, understanding it from a different angle that can help you out greatly.
Now, although this list doesn’t seem very long, there are dozens of other ways to study, from looking up youtube videos to creating your own mnemonic devices. What is most important is that you don’t forget to keep up with your classes, because otherwise you won’t be able to handle frantically studying for all of them at once before finals. Hopefully this has inspired you a bit, because as a first-year, I get how intimidating college classes can seem. My advice: don’t worry! Just relax and study. You’ll be fine if you just put in enough effort into your education.