What I Learned During My First Semester

It has officially been a week into my second semester of college. Over winter break, I had some time to reflect on my first semester at WashU, so here are three things I learned during my first semester of college!

Time management is key to getting things done.

I know it’s been said by everyone who doles out college advice, but they say it for a reason. In high school, most of my time was partitioned for me: I spent about eight hours in school and a couple of hours afterwards doing homework and participating in extracurricular activities. Weekends and holidays were the most free time I had and even they were often consumed by work. In college, though, most of my time is free time, so how I choose to spend that time is completely up to me. I’m only in class for three to four hours on any given day which leaves me over twelve hours to do with as I please. First semester, I spent so much time doing little unimportant things because I was completely disarmed by the amount of time I was now in control of. I couldn’t figure out a good way to prioritize my work, so things would get pushed back until I ended up doing them the night before they were due, incurring more stress than necessary. I learned over the course of the semester that I needed to take control of my time or else I wouldn’t be able to get done everything that I needed and wanted. Admittedly, I am still working on managing my time, but I’ve figured out some tools and methods that work for me (stay tuned for another post about that!)

Less time is spent in class, but more time is spent doing work outside of class.

I was always amazed when I heard older college students who returned to my high school say that they had so much more free time in college. I was so excited at that prospect, imagining all the things I would be able to do with that time. When I got to college, though, I realized that they had neglected to mention the amount of work that was done outside of class. In fact, most of my learning is done outside the classroom; the time I spend doing readings for my classes completely eclipses the time I spend physically in class learning. What I learn in class does more to clarify and enhance the material rather than teach it to me for the first time as was the case in high school. 

If you don’t actively make plans with friends and schedule a time to see them, you will never see them. 

Of my four closest friends here, I only saw three of them in class once a week during the first semester. Other than the one English class we were in together, I didn’t see them unless we made plans to hang out together on Saturdays. Our schedules are all so different which meant we were always in different buildings on campus at different times. In high school, I saw my friends every day because we were all in one building for the entire day and many of us had the same classes at the same time. I’ve realized, though, that not seeing my friends every day makes the time we do spend together feel more precious and I’ve learned to cherish it. 

There is, of course, much more I learned last semester, including everything academic from my classes, so stay tuned for more posts!