General Tips for First-Year Students

Be Prepared for Change

Adapting to change is key to immersing yourself successfully in your new environment. This involves almost all aspects of your life and may initially surprise you. Just a few examples will include when to do the laundry, when to study and how often, how to go about making new friends, when to hang out with friends, time management, study skills and making adjustments. Some of the things that you should be prepared to change include:

You: Remember that higher education is for your benefit. Being in college provides opportunities to expand knowledge and intellectual growth, learn different subjects and be exposed to various points of view. Take full advantage of it. Classes are expensive. Use this time to better yourself academically, personally and professionally. Embrace change if it is for your benefit. This does not mean you should change completely, but understand what is best for you and strive towards academic success.

Independence: Living on your own has a lot of responsibilities that come with it. This is one of the many transitions into adulthood and it is also an opportunity to prove that you can thrive doing so. The time is right to rely less on your family.

Home: How much/often it is possible to communicate with your family and friends from home is something you need to figure out once you get into the swing of college life and classes. Change is inevitable, but students must be able to find equilibrium in their lives.

Time: You will soon come to realize that course work at W&L will require a lot more of your time than high school did. Changing how you spend your hours of the day and taking the time to actually organize your life properly not only involves keeping track of homework and tests, but your personal life. You have to find the balance in life that will work for you.

If you need help with time management, explore the Harte Center's Learning Resources

Studying: Be open to changing your study habits. This will most likely involve more than just a little tweaking. Figure out how you study best, where you study best (for example, reserving a Leyburn Library study carrel), and explore different study methods (note taking, reading comprehension, and time management techniques) and test the ways that will be the most beneficial to you. Once you figure this out, academic success will be much easier to grasp.

Asking for Help: You may or may not have asked for much assistance in high school, but W&L is the type of place where help can be found pretty quickly. Please don't be afraid to seek assistance from your professors, University administrators, Resident Advisers and peers. Asking for help before it is too late is of paramount importance, especially when the term is only 12 or 4 weeks in duration. This is vital in order to not only "survive" the year, but also to achieve academic success.

Level of Difficulty: University classes are likely more demanding than your high school classes. Even if you know the material, strive to challenge yourself even more. If you feel you need help, seek it sooner rather than later. The services listed at the top of the page are for your convenience. Do not hesitate to seek help, because through these student resources you will only better your chances for academic success.

Take Charge of Your Life

Homework: Stay on top of it. It does not take much to get behind. For less stress follow your syllabi (they are meant to help you organize your time) and even try to work ahead if possible.

Perseverance: How much you gain from your studies is largely the result of your individual effort and involvement. The time and energy that you devote to your studies and other educationally purposeful activities positively influence your grades and persistence. In other words, a key to academic success is your own engagement.

Health: Take care of yourself. Watch your health and stay healthy through proper foods, exercise and especially sleep. These can easily be overlooked in the bustling lifestyle of your new college life, but it will be to your detriment if you do not keep track of it. It is easy to stay up the night before a test studying, but it will be harder for you to function the morning of the test. Take care of your own health. Learn to balance your private, social and academic life. If you become ill or feel overwhelmed contact the Student Health Center and/or the University Counseling Center through the links at the top of the page.

Interact: Take advantage of academic support services, participate in co-curricular activities and interact with faculty members and friends on a meaningful level. Benefit from the sources of information that we have provided you at the top of the page. Be sure to fully engage your academic adviser, professors and peers for support.