Conquering the First Six Weeks of College
'Figuring it out' is simultaneously terrifying and wonderful, as you learn to manage yourself - by yourself - for the first time.
October 24, 2016
Whether on a semester or quarter system, the first six weeks of college are incredibly formative. By this point, one is finding a rhythm, coordinating a schedule that works and making adjustment as needed.
Being a student-athlete, I have to manage my time in a somewhat different manner in order to balance academic, athletic and social pursuits.
Regardless, ‘figuring it out’ is simultaneously terrifying and wonderful, as you learn to manage yourself by yourself for the first time.
Your First Week
The first week will be overwhelming, filled with new faces and syllabuses. In many cases classes will just start, and, depending on the season, the same could be true for athletes. Just know that it is okay to be nervous: you’re in a new place, in a new situation.
Be willing to put yourself out there! I spent my first Friday in college alone in my room trying to do homework, suddenly aware that I was thousands of miles from home, away from everything and everyone I knew. It was pretty sad, but I can say that many people felt the same way.
So be willing to talk to strangers in your hall or in the dining halls – they could be your next best friends, and they are just as nervous as you are.
Your Second Week
By the second week, classes have quickly progressed and you still have not gotten the hang of doing your own laundry. ‘This is fine,’ you will tell yourself, and it’s true! You won’t have perfect sleeping habits or the best class schedule, so realize that you are still finding your footing. If it helps you to leave inspirational notes around your dorm, do so (I still have mine up from the second week or so).
If a class does not appear to be working for you, not what you thought it would be, it is not too early to switch into another one—in fact, waiting too long will make it much harder for you to catch up to the rest of your class.
The next few weeks are somewhat redundant: class, eat, (practice, maybe), work (study, perhaps?), eat, work, sleep, and repeat. Of course, everyone will operate under a different schedule and you may go hours or days without seeing your roommate(s).
But the weekends are wonderful times to catch up on work and be more socially active. You may choose to go out of stay in and have a movie night with your hall mates; you could be a part of intramural or club sports; but use the weekend to unwind! The work week is busy and often stressful, and the weekend is the time to recharge, get work done and be with friends.
Take advantage of opportunities to meet new people, especially if they are free. I have met some of my best friends and favorite people on trips to our city’s downtown area.
Often, RAs and GAs provide some funding for these trips and some dorm sponsored events cost nothing at all. But it’s not about what you’re buying or eating or whatever else – it’s about who you’re with and the memories you make.
Of all of the things I have learned since I started school, the most important has been this: be aware of what you need to do for yourself. Push yourself to socialize, push yourself to meet with advisors and attend office hours, and push yourself to keep up healthy habits.
No one tells you exactly when things need to be done: your successes and failures are entirely your own. But you are not alone; when you are lost (and there will be times that you are at a total loss), professors, upperclassman and others will be there to help you. All you need to do is ask.
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