Ask Belle: How does a new student stay informed?

Dear Belle,

I am a new student and haven’t been in school since I was 17-years-old. I wanted to ask what advice you would give to a new college student to help them stay well informed and organized with all of their new classes.

Thank you,

Confused in Casselberry

Dear Confused in Casselberry,

I have been exactly where you are right now! I came back to school at age 28, after having been out since I was 17-years-old. I will tell you exactly what I did when I came back to school.

The first thing that I did was to get a planner, just a simple 16-month calendar that can be bought at any office supply store (or even Wal-Mart) and I transferred all of the important dates from my class syllabuses into it (due dates for assignments, test dates, holidays, etc.). Some people opt to use the calendar on their smartphone, but I find that technology can be unreliable at times; therefore, I keep a hard copy on hand.

The second thing that I did was to transfer all my professors’ contact information (email, phone, fax, etc.) into the contacts on my smartphone and in my school email account. I made sure to send a “test message” to each of them to ensure that the line of communication was open and working correctly. I have run into several problems with assignments and, if it hadn’t been for that open line of communication, I wouldn’t have been able to maintain a 4.0 grade point average. Not saying that this will happen to you, but it is best to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

The third thing that I did was to place post-it flags in my textbooks. I would place one at the beginning of each chapter that I needed to study and I would place several throughout the chapters, highlighting important information. I urge you to do this in lieu of using a highlighter, especially if you are renting the textbook or if you plan to sell it back to the bookstore at the end of the semester.

My last suggestion to you is to stay calm! College can be a very frustrating experience and it is very easy to become overwhelmed. Make sure that you not only leave enough time in your day for your studies but leave some time for you as well. After all, if you can’t take care of yourself, how do you expect to take care of your coursework?

I wish you the best of luck in your academic endeavors!

All my best,



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