It’s the beginning of the second semester of freshman year. The good news is that you have survived one-eighth of your collegiate career. The bad news is that with a new semester, responsibility comes crashing back down after almost a month of Netflix, naps, and stress-free weekdays (or, the glorious phenomenon known as winter break). So what’s a freshman to do? Run for cover in the safety of the warm dorm rooms? Ignore the countless syllabi and textbook orders? Pretend that your new professors are just suggesting coursework instead of requiring it? The answers to all these questions are obviously no. The not-so-obvious answer is that yes, you are going to tackle second semester without falling into the sophomore semester slump.
The first way to tackle the overwhelming new semester is to make a game plan. You can’t—theoretically at least—do all fifteen hours’ coursework in one night, so the best thing to do is remember that tomorrow is another day. Even though the wintery weather tends to make the best of us want to binge watch a show with some hot chocolate and lots of blankets, we have to remember that the second semester of the first year counts as much as first semester. Try to prioritize, especially in the first week of classes. Put dates of important events on your calendar now so when the test, paper, or quiz comes up, it doesn’t blindside you. Talk to your friends about classes they are enjoying and offer your help ahead of time if you know there might be a course they will struggle in. Rent your textbooks to save money for the weekends – websites like Chegg.com, Half.com, and ThriftBooks.com are great places to find alternative pricing, and lessen the charges on your student account.
Another thing to remember is fear not. Don’t be afraid to drop and swap classes you just can’t envision yourself enjoying for an entire semester. Yes, it is important to get your general education requirements out of the way, but you need to remember that college is essentially about exploring your options. If a class seems way too overbearing when compared to other classes that are more important to you—like ones for your major or minor—don’t worry yourself too much about keeping the class. Schedule an advising appointment and get the class switched before the add/drop date for classes has passed. It’s important to remind yourself that you are at college to make the most of your education, not to stress yourself out over a class that can be taken in another semester. That being said, if you aren’t really enthusiastic about your current declared major, now is a great time to explore your options. Try to reach out to older classmates who are in your major and see how they’ve enjoyed it. Even though you may have believed all your life that you’re destined to be a chemistry major, it’s okay to relent a little and explore alternate options.
Since it is a new year, as cliché as it might sound, setting resolutions for your spring semester could help you get over hurdles that plagued you during first semester. Challenge yourself to speak up more in class or go to an intimidating professor’s office hours. Find time to put working out in the gym into your schedule, since it’s more difficult to walk around campus in inclement weather conditions. Visit club fairs and learn about volunteer opportunities around campus. Even though second semester is sure to be busy, it is important to remember getting involved early on in your collegiate career can be crucial throughout your four years on campus. Don’t be afraid to try something new even if it doesn’t work out. With each semester comes a new chance to start over, to grow, and to figure out a little bit more about yourself. And remember: don’t stress it too much. You’re only an undergraduate once (we will save ourselves the embarrassment and not make that into an overused acronym).