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Classroom | Undergraduate

4 Ways to Survive Your First Semester at College

So you've arrived at college, moved in, gotten settled—what's next for your first semester? When it comes to fostering some academic excellence in your first round of university courses, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you're putting your best foot forward.

Here are four ways to best survive your first semester at college.

Test Multiple Study Areas

Not all study spaces are built alike. Perhaps you're someone who thrives with a lot of background noise, or maybe you prefer complete solitude to focus on your studies. Luckily, SDSU offers plenty of options, so you can pick your best fit! Love a nice, quiet area? Try out the Hilton M. Briggs Library or give the room search tool a go—you may be able to find an available room that includes tech needs, such as outlets, computers, whiteboards and smartboards. Prefer somewhere a little more bustling? There are seating areas on every level of the University Student Union.

Acquaint Yourself to Professors

Surviving your first semester of college academics can have a lot to do with the time you spend with your professors—both inside and outside the classroom. Each of your SDSU professors should have clear office hours posted both on their doors and on their syllabi on day one of classes. These are there for a reason—when you have questions about your assignments, the lecture material or how best to succeed in a professor's class, you can pose those questions. This is especially important during your first semester, when you're still getting used to how university classrooms differ from high school classrooms.

Save—and Back Up

We all love technology—but we still have to use it smartly for it to be effective. Come midterms and finals time, this will be especially important in your college career. Get into the habit of saving frequently when working on important classwork—especially essays and papers that you're spending hours or even days on. In addition, make sure to back up these important files. Save them in multiple places, including your student drive, jump drives and cloud storage. And try not to save only to your hard drive—laptops and tablets have a way of crashing when it's least convenient for us.

Make Class Attendance a Habit

Now that you're in college, it might become tempting to skip a class or two. But it's incredibly important for the success of your time at school that you show up every day—so make classroom attendance a habit right off the bat. In fact, a study from SUNY Albany found that attendance is the No. 1 predictor of grades in a college setting—even more than ACT scores and high school grade-point averages. Resist the urge to skip—your future self will thank you.