What I learned in my first term of college

By Jamie Bartman

Before moving to PSU, I gained advice from my older sister (a PSU graduate) and family members. However, that doesn’t mean I was meant to ace college. In fact I learned a LOT just from the first term. If I typed everything I learned this blog would be novel length so here are a few tips that I hope will help you as well!

1. Do NOT go home after class

If you want to be a productive student, stay away from your dorm or bedroom after class. As soon as your bed is in sight it’s impossible to back out. You may head to your dorm assuring yourself that you will get work done, but the next thing you know you’ve binged watched video essays on YouTube for six hours and it’s way past your bedtime. Hit a lounge, library, dining hall, or café instead! Those environments often have a comfy atmosphere with other college students which will be more motivating to get work done. Bonus points for doing it with friends!

2. Academics isn’t everything

Leave your dorm room and take a break from studying to go out with friends. Or to focus on hobbies and interests. You need to remember to have fun and get fresh air or burnout will bite you in the future. Participate in campus activities or hang out with loved ones to take a breather. Your social life and hobbies are just as important as your studies!

3. Make friends in your classes (yes it’s that important)

It will be useful to keep in contact with at least one or two classmates in each of your classes. You can study together, ask each other questions, help each other out, and if you are gone for a class, you have someone to text to find out what you missed. And who knows! Not only is it handy, but you could make some long lasting and meaningful friendships out of it.

4. Understand, don’t cram

I have failed exams that I put hours -including sacrificing my sleep schedule- into studying for. I have passed exams that I spent only one or two hours studying beforehand. It is NOT necessary nor is it helpful to go with the cram-as-much-information-into-your-head-as-possible route. The most efficient and easiest ways to pass classes and exams is to understand the material you’re learning. This includes watching crash courses, asking your professors questions, studying with classmates, using quizlet, whatever tactic works for you. But never take all nighters and cram information in a short amount of time.

5. Take care of yourself

This is one of the most important tips. College can be super stressful, especially during finals week. Added on top of that with personal, financial, or mental health issues, it makes life more difficult. It is okay to struggle or have bad days, but don’t let that stop you from reaching out for help. Don’t bottle up bad feelings, tell someone you trust that you’re struggling, distract yourself, whatever helps you in the moment. Remember on the days you are struggling; you are not alone.

Nearing the end of the term I struggled immensely with anxiety and seasonal depression. To ease my bad days, I take advantage of different recourses that teach me mindfulness and distract me from uneasiness. Hopefully these resources might be useful to you!


About Jamie: I’m a Portland State University freshman from Hermiston, Oregon, majoring in communications and minoring in writing. I’m left handed and a Capricorn (quirky am I right). I enjoy hanging out with my friends at Smith’s and reading poetry.

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