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How to Succeed in College: 5 Tips for Academic Success In Your First Semester

By: Dr. Krista Prince

Originally posted with Julie Stallman on TriangleSeniorYear.com

Krista Prince, Ph.D. is an Educational Consultant with Capital Educational Solutions who offers support in academic recovery and coaching, leadership education, college exploration, college navigation, and school to career counseling. In this blog post, Krista offers students five tips for academic success in their first semester of college:

1. Create a Master "Due Dates" Document

After the first full week of classes, use the syllabus from each class to create a master document with all of your due dates and assessment dates in one place. This will allow you to get a full picture of the semester and plan effectively.

Kelsey, a junior at the University of South Carolina, creates a master spreadsheet with all of her course due dates, tests and quizzes, and then color codes them by course to provide a quick snapshot of her workload at any given time. “Putting all of the assignments and due dates in one place makes it easier and quicker to keep track of everything,” said Kelsey.

2. Get to Know Your Professors

Early in your first semester of college, visit at least one of your professors during office hours. Meeting your professors one-on-one demonstrates your investment in success. Plus, if you need support later in the semester, you’ll already have an established relationship with the professor. You may also learn about opportunities you wouldn’t hear about otherwise like potential majors, career paths, or research opportunities.

3. Get Involved!

There’s a reason why you will find this tip on almost every list about college success! Get involved on campus. Join an organization, attend a workshop series, engage in undergraduate research, or pursue student employment. Co-curricular involvement enhances the academic experience, eases the transition, and supports retention and higher grades.


Apex Friendship High School class of 2020 graduate Peyton Inman talks about the importance of campus involvement in her transition to college. She credits it as the reason she thrived her freshman year at the University of Georgia. "Putting myself out there and getting involved was essential in my journey to find my place and my people at such a large school," says Peyton. Read more about Peyton's transition to college here.

4. Visit the Academic Success Center

This may also be called the Writing Center, Learning Center or Tutoring Center on your campus; whatever the name make a point of stopping in to learn what they offer students. All students can benefit from academic coaching and support, and if you’ve been there before, it will be that much easier to seek support if you find yourself struggling with a class or assignment later in the semester.

5. Focus on Holistic Well-Being

Take care of yourself. Take advantage of the resources that are available to you on campus (and are likely already covered by your fees) like campus recreation, counseling services, and nutrition services.


And don’t discount the importance of exercise, good nutrition, and plenty of sleep as discussed in U Thrive: How to Succeed in College and Life by Dan Lerner.

  • At least one hour of exercise per day enhances cognitive capacity

  • There is a positive correlation between eating breakfast and classroom success

  • Seven to nine hours of sleep per night supports optimal learning.


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