Adjusting study habits offers useful growth

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So you’ve gotten into the College of William and Mary, you’ve taken the Advanced Placement classes, passed the SAT and ACT with flying colors, and written the essays. The hard part is over, right? In a way, yes; but that doesn’t mean that the College is a cakewalk. 

This article isn’t meant to scare you, new incoming freshmenbut quite the opposite. Here is your cliche “survival guide” to navigating the rough waters of academics at the College. Consider this a life vest of sorts. 

Here’s a timeline of academic success, from an incoming junior who took a while to figure it out themselves. 

Academic success starts on the first day of classes. I know the last thing you want to be doing during syllabus week is kissing up to your professors, but believe me, it’s the best time to do so.  

After each class on the first day, I recommend sneaking up to the professor with a smile, shaking their hand, and introducing yourself to them. Coming from experience, it also never hurts to mention your enthusiasm for the subject or your interest in the class. In doing this, you become a familiar face in the lecture hall. Additionally, if you ever end up in their office hours, they will be more willing to help you out over other students who may be making a last-ditch “please save my final grade” effort the week before finals.  

Speaking of office hours, go to them! I cannot stress this enough. Going to a professor’s office hours has helped me so much in my endeavors at the College. Not only can you receive one-on-one help with assignments, but you also build a personal connection with professors along the way. On many occasions, this has helped me in the future, whether I needed recommendations or, even in two cases, wanted to find a major advisor.  

It doesn’t hurt to mention that I’ve also known professors to bring their dogs to office hours, and have had a few friends even score babysitting gigs. If these added bonuses don’t help you with the decision of whether or not to visit your professors in office hours, I don’t know what will.  

If help from your professors in office hours isn’t cutting it, there’s absolutely no shame in making an appointment with a tutor at the Learning Resources Center. The tutors are all fellow students at the College, and are eager to spread their knowledge to you. The Writing Resource Center is also very helpful, for reading over papers, but make sure to book your appointments in advance. They fill up quick, especially around midterms and finals.  

The environment in which you study can also make or break your study session experience. Personally, I am a Swemromas gal for writing and second floor fan when I’m working on more intense stuff. Luckily, Earl Gregg Swem Library offers four floors of different quietness levels, as well as a coffee shop. Also on campus are the Daily Grind, the Sadler Center study room, lounges in dorms, classrooms, academic building lobbies and countless other options for you to study the day away! I suggest trying out some different spots in the first few weeks of school to find the perfect study spot. 

I’m sure you have all heard this a thousand times, but when it comes to studying, it’s important to find the method that works best for you. It’s important to note that this may not be the same studying tactics that you had in high school! For me, my collegiate study grind is completely different. You could be a flashcard person, study guide guru, group studier or a number of things in between. I suggest trying out different methods, which can be a frustrating but ultimately fruitful process.  

As a headsup, I feel obligated to tell you that you may not do as well as you hoped on your first round of midterms. This is an entirely normal learning curve that almost every student at the College goes through. You live and you learn, and your GPA will be fine. I promise.  

These are just a few ways our community can provide you with academic assistance. Don’t forget that your peers will be your number one support network, and Orientation Aides, Resident Assistants and essentially anyone you can think of on campus are always there to lean on.

Email Lauren Cohen at lhcohen01@email.wm.edu.