Whether you are a new freshman or someone returning to school to boost your résumé or make a career change, I’m sure you want to get off on the right foot this semester. Here are a few ways to lay the groundwork for a great school year—and a successful college experience.

Set goals—and keep them top of mind.

College is challenging. It’s easier to keep working hard when you have something to work toward. Remind yourself often why you’re at college, and what you plan to do after you leave. Early in the semester, spend some time defining short-term and long-term goals. Think about the steps you need to take to achieve those goals as well as the roadblocks that might be standing in your way.

Make school a priority.

It goes without saying that you’ll get a lot more out of college if you attend classes and keep up with reading and homework. Don’t overschedule yourself. Make school a top priority.

Study smarter.

Develop a good organizational system for keeping track of school assignments, upcoming exams and project deadlines, and any other important dates. Set aside time for studying in a place that works for your learning style (a coffee shop might work for some, while a quiet desk might be preferable for others). When you’re studying, remember to aim for shorter sessions as opposed to long marathons, and switch between subjects. Your mind will stay fresher that way. Use multiple methods to study – don’t just read. Instead, take notes, answer questions out loud, quiz a friend. Finally, join a study group – studying with other people can keep you motivated and focused.

Schedule time for school work.

To really succeed in college, you must master the art of time management. If you work part time or full time or have a family, this is especially important. Make a schedule that includes all the demands on your time, and be sure to schedule in study time. If you have a family, let them know what your study time is and make a plan with them not to bother you.

Take advantage of resources.

Colleges have a variety of support services. FRCC campuses, for example, offer tutoring, academic support labs, disability services, veteran services, a program to support single parents, and more. Reach out for help if you need it. And don’t forget your teachers. Talk to them! Go to office hours—your teachers really do want to hear from you.

If this is your first time at college, what are you doing to make sure your college experience is a successful one? If you’re a returning student, what has and hasn’t worked for you in years past?

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