Advice for New Students

Faith Gates

From homework to teachers, campus to books, college is complex. New students don’t know their way around, can’t keep up with the homework, get overwhelmed by the size of their class or don’t know what to do for their future. Fortunately, veteran students remember what it was like and hope to help.

You need to know what you want to do. If you don’t know what you want to do, Santa Rosa Junior College counselors suggest making a MAP, My Academic Plan. This helps guide a student down the path to achieve their academic goal. You don’t want to waste time taking classes you don’t need.

“Make an academic plan, and run it by a counselor,” suggested SRJC student Rebecca Hildebrant.

As of now, the counseling office is only accepting drop-ins on a first come, first serve basis.

Time management is key to a successful semester. Leave early in the morning because finding parking is difficult. Many students miss classes solely because they can’t find parking, especially in the first few weeks of classes. Make sure you arrive with plenty of time before your class a spot.

Time management and organization go hand in hand.

“Use a good day planner,” said psychologist Preston Ni. This way you can be organized and know when all your due dates are, then you can prioritize your work, getting the most important done first and making the best use of your time.

“Time management is one of the biggest challenges for college students. In addition to the time spent in class, a successful student must dedicate 2-3 hours outside of class for every hour in class,” said SRJC counselors in their student guide.

“Make use of the campus. Go exploring. Figure out where things are, what features the school has to offer you,” Hildebrant said. This will help you get the most out of your college experience.

Master organization and studying.

“I wish I would have been more organized and found a quiet place where I can study. The library is a good place to study,” said SRJC student Luke Woodruff as he thought back on his first semester.

In addition, Hildebrant says keeping a USB stick or email folder with all your finished projects and homework will help you keep everything together. And if you printed out your homework but forgot it at home, you can still access it from a library or lab computer.

“Form study groups, it is important for good grades,” said SRJC student Janelle Thode.

Study groups are a good way to study; either you are getting help from someone who already understands or explaining it to someone which will cement it in your brain. It is a good way to specifically set aside time to study and learn different ways to study. It’s also good to make friends.

“It is always good to have a friend in the class in case you get sick, forgot what was assigned, want to verify that you are studying the right material for a test, or would like to partner up with somebody for a group project,” Hildebrant said.

Find out when your teacher’s office hours are and make use of them. “Go for help with homework, questions, anything. Except personal problems,” Thode said with a laugh.

SRJC student Kaylee Ripple suggested using the free tutoring service. The service is offered in the Tutorial Center on the bottom floor of the Doyle Library. You can have a personal tutor help you every week in math, chemistry, physics, biology, English, or ESL if you sign up or you can just drop in during their hours to get help.

There are also open labs for math, language and science where you can study while tutors walk around ready to help.

Remember to take care of yourself. Your body and your academic success count on it. You should still eat and sleep enough, no matter how much work you have or you will eventually crash.

“Manage stress through exercise, deep breathing, and time management. Make good use of a day planner,” Hildebrant said.

Safety is important on campus too. If in an emergency you need to contact the SRJC police, they can be reached at 527-1000.

Lastly, don’t stress.

Grades are important, but do your best and don’t take any shortcuts. Don’t let the grade define you.

“There are no A people or D people. There are hard workers, and people who expect others to do things for them. Be the hard worker,” Hildebrant said.

In short: know what you want to do, show up early, study hard, be organized, form study groups, use the labs and tutors, take care of your self and don’t stress. Good luck!