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Things one must know before starting college

Excited about starting college but slightly nervous too? Well keeping that in mind I've written an article addressing the very topic.

Starting college is like entering a whole new world and there’s so much to think about:

  1. Will I make friends?
  2. What Major should I pick?
  3. How will I juggle everything?
  4. What should I bring?

And, lot’s more.

That’s why I've created this list of things you need to know before you (or your child ) start college. Let’s get started!

1. What to Take With You to College

(You can skip this if you are living off-campus – but it’s still good to read.)

For most students, going to college is the first time they live away from home. So, the question is, What do you take with you when moving into a dorm?

Before deciding…Get in touch with your college and ask for their approved and prohibited items checklist. Every college will have one and each college will have slightly different guidelines. Some colleges won’t even allow a power strip! So…make sure you contact them before spending money on things like mini-fridges. Another thing to consider is space. Freshmen tend to underestimate how much space they need, and dorm storage space is notoriously less than it seems at first(quick tip – find out the exact dorm room dimensions and measure any larger items you want to take figure out how much will fit –good to know before showing up in a U-Haul!).

A good rule of thumb is just only to take what’s necessary:

  • Comfortable clothing for class.
  • A formal outfit & shoes for special occasions and job hunting
  • Laptop & phone (obviously)
  • Bathroom supplies
  • Bedding (sheets, pillows, blanket)
  • School supplies i.e. pens, rulers, calculators, sticky notes, etc.
  • Eye mask, earplugs, and pain medication (just trust me)
  • Of course, there’s more, but these are the essentials.

Many students wonder if you can bring your car to campus. This is something you will need to check with your college. Some allow cars; others don’t.

Talking about transportation ….

2. Things to Do On And Off Campus

Think about what you would like to do with your spare time (and how you will get there). College campuses and their surrounding areas are packed with things to do. Almost every college has plenty of clubs, events, and activities on offer for students. So…when you’re on the phone with the college and asking about what things you can take with you, make sure to find out about things to do on and off-campus. You will also want to get off campus now and then. Do google maps search using the college’s address to find out what there is to do out and about the college.

For example, you could search for:

  • Starbucks near [college name]
  • Restaurants near [college name]
  • Movie theatres near [college name]
  • Comic Conventions near [college name]

And so on…These kinds of places know that students love their products and services. So chances are they will be located around the college.

Then…you need to know how to get there! Once you know where you want to go, make sure that you come up with an idea of how you can get there by bus, train or bicycle (if you have one). Knowing how much it costs to get where you want to go is also an important element in making your weekly budget.

3. What Classes You Will Take

Maybe you have already chosen your Major, maybe you haven’t. Either way: If you look around the room on the first day of college, statistically up to half of them haven’t chosen their major either. Even then…Two-thirds of all college students who have picked their major, change it at least once before graduation. Having said that: You should look into which classes you will be attending in your first semester. Because you will need to prepare beforehand. You will need to buy books for example. However, don’t order them just yet, we’ll give you a few tips about saving money on books later. More importantly…Did you know that you forget almost 82% of what you learn in a class within 28 days? And after graduating from high school, students often have three or four months before starting class again.

This is a great way for students to relax after the stress of their final year of high school but the problem is that because of a natural memory drain, getting back into the flow of studying again can be stressful and overwhelming. That’s why we suggest taking a few pre-college tutoring classes based on classes you will have during the first and second semesters. That way you can hit the ground running with one less thing to worry about when starting college.

4. How to Improve Your Memorization

College can be challenging. There is so much to learn and topics you have never studied before. And…Like I said in the last section: The average person loses 82% of what they learn within 3-4 weeks, while a typical college semester is fifteen weeks long. This means that by the end of the semester: When it’s time for exams, you will only remember 18% of what you learned in the first two-thirds of the semester! Frustrating, right? So, I’m going to share three memory tips that will help you retain much more of your course content and while having fun doing it:

Tip 1. Find Your Why

Think about why you want to study your subjects. If you are just learning to pass an exam, chances are you will forget everything the next day. When you want to learn, you need to have a strong (emotional) motivation. Just tapping into a desire to learn something will increase your memory retention and learning abilities. For example:

Those who want to be doctors are more likely to have an active interest in topics like biology or chemistry and therefore find it easier to remember key facts and information from those classes. What is your end goal? Find something you want to achieve and connect it with your academic success. Once you find your own key motivation for studying, everything becomes easier to learn and remember.

Tip 2. Learn Use Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are ageless proven tricks to help you remember almost anything more easily. And…Many of the techniques have been around for thousands of years. So what does a Mnemonic device look like? They are simply different methods to help you remember specific chunks of information. Here’s an example:

This mnemonic device helps you to memorize the first 10 elements and their position.

“Henry Hester Likes Beer But Can Not Obtain Food Now”

Just by remembering this line, you are able to remember each of the first 10 elements and their position in the list:

  • Henry – Hydrogen
  • Hester – Helium
  • Likes – Lithium
  • Beer – Beryllium
  • But – Boron
  • Can – Carbon
  • Not – Nitrogen
  • Obtain – Oxygen
  • Food – Fluorine
  • Now – Neon

See how each word represents an element in its position? This is a type of mnemonic device. Our brains find it easier to remember a storyline or a structured sentence rather than a list of random names of elements. You can use Mnemonic devices to memorize nearly anything. The more you practice the easier it gets, too. And…If you practice these tricks often, studying for any exam will become a breeze.


Tip 3. Use Regular review

The best way to move something from your short-term memory banks to your long-term memory banks is to repeat it a few times.

So, schedule some time every week to review your class notes from the semester. Don’t just review what you learned that week. Review what you learned 2,3,4 weeks ago as well. Another extra trick here is to practise recalling the information out of sequence. This cements the info even further into your brain.

5. How to Take Notes Like a Boss

Notetaking is one of the best ways to help you learn faster, as long as you read them – see the previous chapter.

Here are some of our top notetaking tips to become a note-taking pro.

  1. Be prepared. Look over the upcoming class’ outline and slides if available to get an initial picture of the lesson to come.
  2. Use your notetaking to summarize, not transcribe. Focus on recognizing key concepts (often indicated in the class slides).
  3. Practice your listening skills. Learn to Identify the most important snippets of information and forget the rest. Create a few notes on the big picture, then pinpoint “subheadings” underneath with brief, key information under each.
  4. If the lecturer is going too fast for you, take a photo of the slides or board notes with your phone for later review. (Check first whether your faculty allows this)

Recognizing Key Topics

Wondering how to identify key information in a lecture? Here are a few things to listen out for which suggest what your professor feels is key information:

  • Introductory comments outlining the class topic
  • Repeated phrases or information.
  • Auditory changes such as verbal emphasis or change in speech pattern.
  • Verbal cues indicating something to be important.
  • Final remarks in the form of a summary or review of the lecture’s main idea.

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