Rest, planning essential for academic success in first year

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Incoming freshmen: you are going to get a barrage of advice from peers, professors, family and many more over the next few weeks. None of this advice will be perfect, and neither will mine, but I want to offer some brief advice on class, extracurriculars and free time in college from the perspective of a student who went through the transition to college just two years ago. The biggest difference between high school and college classes is the amount of time in the classroom. Most days you will spend between two and five hours in class. This frees you up to complete readings and assignments, hang out with friends and participate in extracurricular activities.

Do not be fooled though, many of these days are packed with work. While the workload is demanding, it is manageable, especially if you plan and stick to a schedule. Furthermore, some people basically live in the library or academic buildings to do work, while other people complete work in lounges or at coffee shops. I would suggest that you vary your locations to keep your mind fresh. Ultimately, work wherever you feel the most productive. I personally recommend the bookstore, dorm lounges and Tyler Hall.

I would suggest finding five to 10 clubs that really interest you and giving them your email address. This way, you do not get overwhelmed but still have lots of choices in terms of what to join. You might try out four to six of these clubs and realize that a couple are not the right fit for you and that is perfectly fine. Make sure to join something during the first semester of college to meet people and get involved, but it is okay to build up your involvement over your four years once you get a sense of what you can handle.

Finally, and just as importantly, make sure to give lots of attention to free time, relaxation and sleep. While a rigorous school like the College of William and Mary will focus heavily on class and extracurriculars, a sound body and mind are key to success and enjoyment in college. Do not let anybody make you feel guilty for going to sleep at midnight instead of staying up until 4 a.m. to study. You and only you know what is best for your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Make sure to take some time for yourself and to focus on and build relationships with friends. However, balance is the biggest key, because too much relaxation can come back to bite you. Finally, listen to advice from other students or recent graduates. They could have some great insight or a new perspective that can help you realize the best decision for you.

Email Kevin Richeson at [email protected]