Advice for a Successful Semester In Class and Out

Atit Amin

Between moving into a new environment to meeting a host of new people to going through Orientation, life as a first-year is filled with new and lasting experiences. Arguably the most important yet challenging one is to find the right balance between academics and extracurriculars. After the Student Activities Fair (SAF), you will discover the myriad of opportunities that are available through Colgate’s wide-reaching network of organizations. It will be tempting to join every club that piques your interest and while that’s encouraged, it’s also equally important to master the skill of time management.

By the time of the SAF, you will have been given all the syllabi for your classes, which may deter you from becoming involved. Don’t let that be the case; instead, first determine the amount of time you need to allocate towards homework. If you seem overwhelmed by the material, do not hesitate to ask the professor for help. Rarely is a Colgate professor unwilling to provide assistance either after class or through a tutor. Falling behind in a class can be a dreaded first-year folly, so make the most of Colgate’s resources.

Once you know how much of the day to dedicate towards schoolwork, then, you need to be willing to make sacrifices. This can span the spectrum from having to pull an all-nighter at the library to missing out on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. If the occasion arises where you have conflicting commitments, then you need choose the one that means the most. With only 24 hours to accomplish all of our objectives, it becomes important to separate expendable activities from essential ones.

If much of this seems straightforward to you, then the rest should be easy too. Upon joining a new organization, give it a chance to prove its worth and value before changing your mind. Demonstrate initiative, take an active part in the club’s programs and show that you’re capable of holding a leadership position. The simplest way to get noticed for your efforts is to step forth with creative ideas of your own.

Likewise, take advantage of the small-school atmosphere that Colgate has to offer. Don’t be shy of proving that you did the previous night’s reading in class discussions. With only a dozen or so students in a class, professors will remember every student’s name, so it becomes imperative to make a lasting impression. Get off on the right foot by introducing yourself after class or during office hours because it’s the extra effort that counts most when the professor has to decide between a B+ or an A-.

The worst mistake you can make as a first-year is to dedicate yourself solely to academics. It’s hardly guaranteed that a student life dominated by studying reaps greater benefits down the road. Just like colleges seek well-rounded applicants, employers tend to recruit students that have held leadership roles and developed a set of skills and abilities to draw upon. Above all, enjoy what you set out to accomplish because this opportunity only comes around once in a lifetime.