10 Things to Complete in Your First Term of College
Last updated December 5, 2023
Congratulations on starting your first year of college! Whether your school follows the quarter of semester system, there are important tasks to take care of in your first term of college to ensure you’re on the right track. To help set you up for success, we created a list of 10 things to complete in your first term of college!
Finalize your course 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 policy) without penalties:
- Add new classes (if space is available).
- Drop existing classes.
- Switch an existing 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 full refunds for dropped courses, and course changes do not appear on official transcripts. However, 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) to receive that aid. If you slip below full-time credits, you may lose or have to repay that aid. Course add/drop periods may also have different deadlines depending on your school, so be sure to check in with the registrar’s office to confirm them.
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 few weeks 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 is finalized before starting classes. This means ensuring your tuition has been paid and there are no holds on your student account. Issues with financial aid may result in you being dropped from classes or being unable to register for the 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 help you make progress 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 or situations. 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 maintaining a social life. This requires good time management skills, which are essential in college and beyond! 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 commuting from home, 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 and TAs. During office hours, they can answer questions, help you prepare for an upcoming exam, discuss grades, help you request learning accommodations, and more. 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 wellbeing– all for free or at a discounted rate. Struggling with a class? Check out your 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 try out for a 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 student 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.
Your first term of college can be an exciting but overwhelming time, and we’re here to support! For more support throughout your college journey, text #Hello to 33-55-77, or click here to have the text message set up for you!