As summer break comes to a close and the next school year is just around the corner, many students begin to prepare themselves whether it be their first step into college or onto the next school year of their college education. Students who are already in college might find it easier to prepare for the next year of class courses as they have experienced it first hand already, however, for those who are setting their first step on campus might be overwhelmed with what there is to know. As a soon-to-be graduate myself, I want to provide my insight and experience on how to smartly prepare for the upcoming 2023 to 2024 school year so that no student will be spilling textbooks out of their backpacks on their first day.
With colleges following a semester or quarter system, it is important to consider thoroughly planning out what to expect with the upcoming school year. In a semester system, the academic year is split into two sessions: Fall and Spring (mainly used by CSU). The session will usually last about 16 weeks in the Fall, followed by a winter break, then another 16 weeks in the Spring.
A quarter system on the other hand (mainly used by UCs), is an academic year split into 4 lasting about 10 weeks each . Courses will usually occur during the Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Summer is during the time that all college campuses are on break, however, there are Summer sessions for all colleges for students who would like to take additional classes at the cost of spending more time in a short period before the next school year.
As the school years come around, there is without a doubt that students stress over the matter of another year. In some cases, classes will ease in slowly for students to adjust back into the academic year from a long break while some others might go straight into the content. It is important to consider that there are many procedures that occur before going back to school such as payment, considering housing, transportation to campus, and plenty of factors related to taking the education on college campus. By thoroughly planning out certain important dates, figuring out what needs to be done, and how to execute the plans is a great way of mediating the amount of stress as the school year closes in.
With the use of outside resources, there are many different ways college students can prepare themselves along the way before and during the academic year. One of the resources available free to everyone is the use of Google Calendar. Google Calendar is a software used by many students and faculty to organize their schedule and plans. Not only is it easily accessible on the computer, but it can be used on any device compatible with the internet and use of Google. A good benefit of using Google Calendar is that it has a software interface that can connect to other features and apps on phones to help plan things onto calendars and create notifications.
On the more traditional side, the classic journal is another great option college students use when writing down important assignments and schedules. By writing out a weekly schedule, this helps organize what certain things need to be done throughout the week which then can be crossed out by a pencil, and redone again for the next week. There are many options out there that can fit the comfortability of students to use to help stay organized during the academic year.
Not only is your presence needed for the success of your academic career, but also the tools needed to help along the way. Whether it be transitioning from high school to college, or onto the next academic year, there are plenty of new resources college students should and can pick up. Starting with the basics, a comfortable and spacious backpack can help students carry around their daily needs when going from class to class. As college campuses can range in size, the use of a good backpack that carries textbooks, pencils and electronics can help save the back pain.
Pencils and journals are another great tool for students who prefer to use the traditional method of taking notes and writing down information. Laptops are also good for academic use as nowadays, college’s are brimmed with technology and plenty of students use them to take notes, look up information, and complete their assignments. Water bottles are another very essential item that all students should keep on themselves everyday as it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day when walking from class to class and spending time on campus. Fortunately, many college campuses do provide water fountains to refill water bottles (pro tip: it is best to avoid buying things on campus as they tend to mark up prices like water bottles).
In some cases, college campuses can also provide helpful resources as well when budget comes into the picture. Some campuses might have a rental system where students can rent out laptops, textbooks, and other certain tools for a limited amount of time. Not only is this helpful for those on a budget (let's be honest, us college students always want to save a penny), but being able to provide such helpful resources allows students to continue being successful and working around obstacles.
When taking into consideration what there is to know about the first step into college or going onto the next academic year, there are many factors to prepare and look forward to. Whether it be planning and organizing before the next school year, or figuring out the logistics of a daily base to base routine on campus, being prepared for both the best and worst is always beneficial in the long run. As most colleges operate, students are given more responsibilities to handle their own future and route in college. Compared to the class system between high school and college, they are very different.
Colleges will consist of GE classes (general education) and the major classes. In high school, there is usually a set standard schedule of classes for students going into each grade with the ability to also enroll into AP classes. However in college, there are sometimes many options and few at a time. Freshman and Sophomores in college will usually focus on their GE courses first where they will learn various educational topics. After, around their junior and senior year is where they will begin to start working towards their major and taking their major relevant classes. Going back to how high school operates their students' class schedules, in college, students will be able to make their own choices by choosing what classes they are interested in and what schedule they want to personalize.
Despite being able to have a personalized schedule, this also comes with the stress of being able to get the class in the first place. As colleges have thousands of students, classes can only take so many students at a time. With classes having sections at different times, this allows students to choose when they want to attend the class, what day, and what professor. Students around this time will usually stress about being able to nab the class section they want as there is usually a grouping for those who are able to start picking their classes. Starting with those who are veterans and disabilities, to non-prioritized students, there are many factors that come into play with how the system allows students to start choosing their courses.
At the end of the day, college students can expect to go through many different changes and emotions throughout their college education. College serves to provide the necessary education and skills for students before entering the workforce. Students can expect to be facing challenging courses and other various factors that might make it difficult as they traverse through their college career. As stereotypical as it sounds, college students most of the time will spend nights on end studying, going out, and overall experiencing what college life is like. Fortunately, there are many support systems available to students who might need some help when it comes to mental health, physical health, or any help in general
Though it will be different for everyone, college is one of the times in our lives where we can look back and reminisce about the hard work we went through and what memories were made. As I approach my last semester at San José State University, I am beginning to think about what my journey was like from the beginning. From struggling in the beginning of freshman year, experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic and online classes, I never realized how much I had gone through. However, I feel as if I’ve made more positive memories that outweigh any of the bad ones. I know I've struggled with classes, spent countless hours overnight studying, failing tests, but I will also remember the new friends I made, the new experiences and skill sets, and all the adventures I went on.
Have your supplies ready such as writing utensils, note books, a laptop, and anything else you might need on a daily basis.
Double check if all financial tasks are completed! Make sure payment for school is made, FAFSA is filled out for the school year for financial aid, what other financial needs must be completed.
Take a look at what classes you have and where they might be located! Most colleges will have a campus map online so that you won't get lost or be late on your first day.
Reach out to an advisor if there are any questions that need to be clarified. A good advisor can be your best friend when getting through college.
Living in the dorms? Double check what you might need when you're away from home and what the dorms already provide.
Optional, but take a look at what places like foods, entertainment, and general stores that might be around campus! Whether you're living on campus or there on a daily basis, it doesn't hurt to explore what's outside of campus.
Even though college might have the negative stereotypes that might dwell on students, there is without a doubt that many positive memories can come from this experience. By being careful and preparing for a new life in college or continuing your studies, there can be so much to learn about what it's like as a college student.
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