How to Survive Your First Semester

Going away to college for the first time is exciting, but it can be stressful as well. And whether you’re going to a state college, an Ivy League university, or a fashion school, that first semester can be the most stressful of all. But worry not, because it’s possible to not only survive, but thrive, your first term – and all through your college career. Here are ten helpful tips from a fashion college to get you started on the path to success, no matter where you go to school.

1. Know you’re not alone. Who doesn’t feel overwhelmed when they start college? New classes, new city, new roommates – it’s a lot to take in. But if you’re prepared for the fact that you will feel crazed those first few months, you’ll be better able to handle it. And knowing that everyone feels the same way you do just makes it a little easier.

2. Get organized. The good news is that in college, parents and teachers aren’t breathing down your neck telling you to do your homework and get to classes on time. But that’s also the bad news. Now you have to be responsible for it all yourself. Get yourself some kind of organizer – a datebook, a PDA, even a big wall calendar, and use it to keep track of all your assignments and exams. (It feels good to cross things off, too.)

3. Make new friends. Try to meet as many people as you can in your classes. Smile and say hello to students sitting around you. Break the ice by asking them about a lecture or reading assignment. And exchange e-mail addresses with them so you can contact them for notes if you have to miss a class.

4. Keep in touch with old ones. Thanks to social networking sites like Facebook, it’s easy to stay in touch with your old high school friends. Doing so makes the transition to a new college a lot easier, because you don’t feel like you’re suddenly cut off from everyone. Also, you can share stories and advice about adjusting to your new situations.

5. Get to know your teachers. To get over any intimidation about college instructors, meet them one on one in office hours. The more relaxed atmosphere of office hours is a great way to find out more about their academic and professional interests, and they get to know you better, too. Also, fashion school instructors typically are working professionals with industry ties, which can prove to be helpful when it comes time for you to find a job.

6. Don’t procrastinate. Time flies by that first semester. Keep on top of reading and assignments because before you know it, it’s time for exams. Falling one week behind can turn into two weeks, then three. Sticking to deadlines will take so much stress off of you.

7. Stay healthy. You’re already going to feel worn down from having a new schedule and life, so be sure to take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest (all-nighters aren’t all they’re cracked up to be) and eat right. Be sure to get a flu shot, too.

8. Get involved in school. When you go to a new school, you can feel isolated, like you don’t belong anywhere. You can change that feeling by joining one of the on-campus clubs, or by signing up with a committee to plan a school event. You’ll meet new people and learn new skills, all with a big dollop of school spirit.

9. Visit the Career Center. It’s surprising that many students don’t even think about the Career Center until they’re ready to graduate. In fashion college, students are encouraged to visit the Career Center as soon as they start college, so they know what opportunities await them. It’s highly motivating for your studies when you have a dream career in mind.

10. Have fun. Studying is important, but putting your nose to the grindstone 24/7 will only burn you out. Don’t forget to make time for yourself: go to the movies, hit the gym, go dancing, or read a good book. It’s all about balance.

Your first semester in college can be one of the most thrilling times of your life. And the way you survive – and thrive – will set the course for the rest of your college years, and beyond.