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10 Things to Complete in Your First Term of College

Last updated July 11, 2024

Congratulations on starting your first year of college! Whether your school follows the quarter of semester system, there are important tasks to complete in your first term of college to ensure you’re on the right track. We share 10 things to complete in your first term of college!

Girl with glasses and a yellow shirt holding books, smiling in front of a building - 10 Things to Complete in Your First Term of College

Finalize your class schedule

During your first few weeks of college, you’ll be able to get a grasp of what your schedule is like, which may be different from what you expected when you first registered for classes. If you need to switch your schedule around for any reason, you may be able to! Most colleges have an add/drop period, which is a period of time at the start of each term that allows students to do the following (depending on school policies) without penalties:

  • Add classes (if space is available).
  • Drop classes.
  • Switch a class to a different session/time (if space is available).
  • Change the grading basis from grade points (a letter grade, which affects your GPA) to Credit/No Credit (CR/NC, which doesn’t affect your GPA).

During this period, students can receive refunds for dropped courses, and course changes do not appear on official transcripts. Course add/drop periods may have different deadlines depending on your school, so be sure to check in with the registrar’s office to confirm them. Keep in mind that changes to your schedule may affect your financial aid. For example, many forms of aid, including scholarships, will require students to be enrolled in full-time credits (usually around 12). 

Make sure you have all the right textbooks

While it's ideal to rent or buy your textbooks before the term begins, it may not always be realistic. Whether you receive your financial aid late or need to make adjustments to your schedule, you usually have a small grace period at the beginning of the term to rent/buy your textbooks. Make sure you don't wait to get your textbooks any later than that, since you will need to start doing class readings and submitting assignments!

Check the status of your tuition and payments

Be sure that your financial aid for the term is finalized before starting classes. Issues with financial aid may result in you being dropped from classes or being unable to register for your next term. If you're unsure or have any questions, talk to someone in the financial aid office to learn more. 

Meet with your academic advisor

It’s important to meet with your academic advisor at least once per term. They can help you choose classes that will advance you toward your degree, conduct a degree audit with you to make sure you're on track to graduate, and can support you through challenging moments. Your relationship with your academic advisor is one of the most important ones you'll have in college, so be sure to maintain clear and open commmunication with them!

Learn how to manage your time

In addition to adjusting to your class schedule, you may also be juggling things like jobs and internships, extracurricular activities, and your social life. This requires good time management skills, which are essential in college! Ensure that your academics are your priority by making plenty of time to complete class readings and assignments, study for exams, and attend office hours if you need extra support. Write down important dates from your class syllabi in a planner to keep track of everything. Once you have an idea of what your academic tasks are in a given week, you can also note everything else: extracurricular activities, your work schedule, plans with friends, and more. Building time management skills can take some discipline, but is essential to thrive in college! 

Find your ideal study space

Whether you’re living on campus or are commuting, you’ll need to have a place to study and do class assignments. As you explore your campus, take note of potential places where you can study effectively. If you focus better with noise in the background, your campus coffee shop might be the place to go; but if you need to study distraction-free, you may find that a quiet place in the library works best for you.

Attend office hours

Attending office hours is a great way to stay in touch with your professors. During office hours, they can answer questions, help you prepare for an upcoming exam, and discuss grades or your learning accommodations. Going to office hours also demonstrates your commitment to class and helps you form a close working relationship with your professors and TAs. Office hours aren’t typically mandatory to attend, but can make a difference in enhancing your learning experience.

Learn about your campus resources

No matter where you attend college, there are many resources on your campus designed to support your academic, professional, physical, and mental well-being– all for free or at a discounted rate. Struggling with a class? Head to the campus academic success center. Thinking about getting a job or internship? Receive support in preparing your resume and interview skills at the career center. There are also resources like the student health center and counseling services to take care of your physical and mental health. These resources are typically included in your student fees, so make sure to take advantage of them!

Connect with other students on campus

No matter the size or location of your college, it's still a new environment for you that can feel overwhelming. Know that you’re not alone! Many students experience the same feelings and can struggle or find it intimidating to branch out and meet new friends. Finding a community that can support you in college is important and can help you build lasting relationships. Whether you get to know your new roommate, attend a club meeting, or join an intramural sport, there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people!

Learn how to navigate around and in/out of campus

You may be living in a new city or state for college, so it’s important to know how to navigate around it and get to know the new community you live in. If you don’t have a car, your college may have an office that can help you navigate the city’s public transportation system and may provide annual or monthly passes at a discount. If you do have a car, don’t be afraid to look up directions or use navigation as you drive around and get to know your new city.

Have any questions about starting your first term of college? Text #College to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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