“What is the best piece of advice you can give a freshman?” It was a question that popped up over and over again during my time at Dawg Camp, an optional weekend retreat in the summer for incoming freshmen to the University of Georgia.
Some of the answers were predictable, like make a lot of friends or don’t forget to call home. The most common advice, however, seemed so obvious. “Go to class,” one counselor
would advise, and the others would nod their heads emphatically, a few of them smiling with chagrin.
The other freshmen and I looked back at the counselors wide-eyed and confused. We couldn’t figure out why something like that even needed to be said. About the fourth or fifth time we’d heard it, someone finally raised his hand and asked, “Why wouldn’t we?”
“Sleep,” one girl answered boldly, and the others agreed wholeheartedly.
I will be the first to admit that I am not a morning person; I love mornings, as long as I don’t have to be awake or get out of my warm bed. Over the years my parents have invented some very creative ways of disrupting my slumber, from tugging on my feet to turning on the lights. Often I would mumble, pretend to get up, and bury myself back under the covers again, resulting in too many almost-late days to count.
In college, the only true wake-up system you have is yourself. You can set a hundred alarm clocks and find the most annoying sounds to accompany them, but they can’t physically pull you out of bed, and there is no roommate patient enough to take on that responsibility every day.
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The good news is that there are millions of other college students trying to find the will power to go to class, too – which means they go through the same thought process you do and have the same choices to make.
It can be tempting to sleep in and convince yourself that one class doesn’t make a difference, but the truth is, it definitely could. Can’t you remember sitting in a class
when suddenly all the material falls neatly into place and finally makes sense? Do you think a professor would be more willing to help a student with near perfect attendance who really made an effort, or a student who tended to give himself days off and thereby dug himself into a hole?
Part of that decision-making is influenced by the syllabi of the professors. Since some classes only meet once or twice a week, missing a single class can mean falling behind from missing so much information, and missing more than a couple classes can mean letter-grade deductions from your final grade in the course.
How can you avoid penalizing yourself that way? Don’t let yourself make excuses. A runny nose and a headache do not mean you’re sick
, just that you’re having an off day and need to push through it with the help of some orange juice and Dayquil and a good night’s rest.
Waking up too late to shower or put on makeup is no justification, either; apply deodorant liberally, brush your teeth, and remember it’s better to catch an opportunity even when you’re looking like a mess than to miss that opportunity entirely. If there’s only one thing you should skip when you get to college, it’s skipping classes.