Despite what you have been shown in movies college isn’t always a drunken whirwind of huge parties and awkward mornings waking up next to the opposite sex, fine there is that but there is also work that needs to be done. Students find out through trial and error how to succeed in college which often means that they struggle through their first year or two. During my three years in school (and two years on hiatus which we won’t get into) I have developed my own way of surviving and succeeding while still managing to have a blast.
On the nonsense that is the textbook market: New textbooks are expensive as hell. Allow me to reiterate that: New textbooks are expensive as hell! There is definitely something wrong with a system that tells you to spend 700 dollars per semester on textbooks in the age of the internet. School bookstores are a racket pure and simple. You buy overpriced books and are lucky to get 10% on the buy back at the end of the semester if the text gets reused at all. Here has been my solution to this problem: BUY AN OLDER EDITION.
Let us do a quick comparison:
My english class for this semester required the Norton Anthology of English Lit. Vol 2. 8th edition.
Current price on Amazon: New- $47.62, Used- 35.00
My price on the 7th edition: Used-$0.99 plus $3.99 shipping.
The content thus far has been identical save one measily poem which I found on google for free. So the savings is major. I do this for evey class biology, chemistry, economics,it doesn’t matter. My total spent this semester was between 90-100 dollars and only because I had to buy a lab manual published by the school and a terrible device known as an iclicker. The rest of my books were around $25 total.
Over four years this method could save you thousands, so start Freshman year. It is simple find out the book you need, go on to Amazon.com and do some quick searches and find a trusted 3rd party seller in which to buy from used. Okay some classes do require that you solve problems within the text or use computer software, these seem to be few and far between for some majors. Also make sure you will actually need to use the software before investing in anything, shoot the professor a quick email to find out.
Studying: This is where most of us falter in the begining. After going through the joke that is the high school education system we’ve gotten by on not needing to study all that much. Not to say you won’t have easy college courses but the majority of the time you will have to study. Cramming is not the way to go. I’ve done it before and so have the majoity of your peers, waiting until the last minute to study will sometimes work and you will pass but for most people it’s a disaster.
Solution: The bit by bit method. Get your course syllabus and a planner, write down everything thing that will be covered on certain days and the dates of exams for each class. You’ll notice tests usually fall together on every third or fourth week. It becomes hard to cram for three tests in a week when you want to go out and have fun. Here is what I do, everynight I read 10 pages of the textbook. Right now for me that’s biology and chemistry and both classes cover three chapters per test. At the rate of 10 pages a day you should have read all of the chapters in a week. The next week take notes on everything. Week 3 you re-read. If your lucky to get a whole month then re-read.
The beauty of this method is you have a set routine that gets established. Use your planner to keep track of what has been done. It is quick bursts of studying that lets you learn daily and frees you up for the night.
Get involved in study groups if they are available or create them yourself. Talk to your neighbors before or after class and try to set something up. If your school has online communication set up for the course send a email to everyone to see if there’s any interest. This is a great way to get extra help and meet some new people in the process.
Also start paper research the same way. Writing a whole research paper in one night is extremely difficult to pull off well.
Attendance: I’ll be honest going to class is really boring most of the time. Some classes take attendance for a grade while others don’t care if you are there or not. A word of advice if you do decide to skip classes with grade based attendance, ace all of your exams. Most professors are decent human beings and won’t mess with your grade too much if you do great on the exams and turn in work. That means if you don’t want to go to class you had better pick up the slack on your own time. Try to schedule classes that interest you your freshman year. Most people have no idea what they want to do at 18 and even if they do it will usually change by the end of the year. Remember you don’t need to focus on your major just yet. Hell, I still haven’t declared.
These are just a few basic tips I have for the new crop of Freshman. It’s really all about balance, don’t be that guy who just gets blitzed every night and definitely don’t just sit around study for a future you might not even want or be ready for.