As much fun as they certainly will be, your first couple weeks at college can also be pretty stressful. You’re going to have lots of different experiences right off the get go; between meeting new people, moving into a new home, and having hundreds of flyers handed to you everywhere you go – and on top of that starting classes – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Admittedly, I didn’t do a whole lot to prepare for it, perhaps mostly as a product of not knowing what to expect. In retrospect, however, there are a couple things I wish I had known that might have made the transition slightly smoother.
First off, perhaps the one piece of advice that almost every incoming freshman receives but very few follow (including myself for the better half of my first year), read through your syllabi. You don’t have to study or memorize them, but at least give them a glance – I can’t overemphasize how much it can pay off. Certainly, there will be some professors that only use their syllabus to go over a broad course outline, which may not be that helpful. More often than not, however, a syllabus will be riddled with key information, such as homework deadlines and exam dates, that will prove useful in staying organized throughout the semester.
Secondly, try to keep in mind that the time you spend in-class is not an accurate representation of your workload. When I first saw that my seven-hour-a-day, 8:00am to 3:00pm high school schedule was being replaced by an irregular, four- or five-hour daily schedule, I was thrilled about what I thought was a lightened load. As it turns out, however, simply because you have less class time than you did in high school does not mean you’ll have less work. In fact, it’s likely the opposite. Moreover, as the rigor of your studies increases from a high school- to college-level, so too do your expectations and, by extension, the amount of time you must put in. As a (fairly imprecise) guideline, it’s said that for each hour of class time, you are expected to put in an hour of homework.
Lastly, draw up a schedule in advance for welcome week. There are lots of fun events each day that can make the process of making friends and settling into your new home that much easier. Without making a plan ahead of time, however, it can be easy to miss some of them. I’ve outlined a couple of my favorites below, but for a more in-depth schedule with times included, click here.
Wednesday, August 16: Residential Colleges’ Friends and Family Receptions
Thursday, August 17: Viterbi New Student Luau
Friday, August 18: Splash Bash
Saturday, August 19: Welcome Back Carnival and Concert
Sunday, August 20: Explore L.A. Events
One final piece of advice: go to your convocation! Sure, it’s long, it’s hot, and you have to wear a gown, but you might regret it one day if you skip it. Not speaking from experience, of course…
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