Essential skills for college freshmen

Attending college can be a grand adventure. Meeting new people, taking classes that interest you and experiencing that newfound sense of freedom can make college one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. However, studying for a postsecondary degree is very different from high school, and you should try to develop some new habits and skills to help you in your new life. But which ones?

The most important skill for new college freshmen to master is time management. If you can't manage your schedule, everything else will suffer. Many freshmen become intoxicated with the freedom to do what they want, when they want, and unfortunately, sometimes their grades suffer. This is especially important to be aware of when you first begin your degree program as you need to achieve good grades from the outset, especially if your scholarships or financial aid depend on maintaining a certain GPA.

Time management is particularly important if you're planning on working a part-time job while you study. If you struggle to balance a job and your studies, not only will your grades suffer, but it could also jeopardize your employment, too. Managing a schedule takes a lot of discipline, especially in a new and exciting environment like college. Try and stay focused on short-term goals as well as your long-term plans. Don't lose sight of immediate homework assignment deadlines by thinking you can make up your grades in the future.

Another good habit to develop is note-taking. Although many lectures and classes will make course materials available for download online, taking actual notes is an important and useful skill. What if your internet connection fails, and you can't access the course notes before an assignment is due? Technical problems won't fly as an excuse with your professors. Get in the habit of taking methodical, concise notes during your classes – it will be beneficial to you in the long run.

One skill that can serve you well in other parts of your life is effectively budgeting your personal finances. Many students fail to plan and budget their money effectively when student loan payments are made, or when they receive their first paycheck from a new job, and then they suffer later on in the semester when they're struggling for money. Plan out, on paper, what you need to make it through the term. Set aside enough money for your expenses, then divide what's left into equal amounts to tide you over until your next payment.

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