by Carli Diver
First off, even though y’all have probably heard it a thousand times already, congratulations on being selected as a 2017 Tech Terry Scholar! I cannot wait to meet y’all and I am so excited for you to begin your journey as Red Raiders. Enjoy your summer because soon you’ll be moving in in August and before you know it, your first year will be gone. So, obviously, college is going to be a huge transition in many ways but the one that you are probably the least prepared for is moving from a high school classroom to a college classroom. It doesn’t matter if you went to a 6A school or a 1A school, you’re going to have to make changes in the way you learn and the way you study.
Heather is going to go over a lot of this stuff in Raider Ready but I wanted to give y’all some personal tips so hopefully you’ll figure some of this stuff out before I did (which was at the end of my freshman year).
1. Introduce yourself to your professors
This is one piece of advice I did not quite understand so I didn’t take advantage of this until my second semester. It is really not as awkward as it sounds. Send your professor an email at the beginning of the semester stating who you are, what your major is, and how excited you are to work with them (even if you aren’t). Then walk up to them after the first class and introduce yourself again just so they can put a face with the name. If it’s a class that you think you might struggle in, stop by their office during their office hours, which will be on the syllabus they give you the first day of class, and ask what you can do to prepare for their class. If a professor knows your name, chances are they are going to be more willing to help you if you are really struggling (and maybe bump your grade at the end of the semester). Almost all your professors will want to get to know you and want to help you any way they can.
2. Take advantage of the academic support services on campus
Tech has so many academic support services that it can be overwhelming when you’re trying to figure out where you need to go for help. Supplemental Instruction or SI sessions are really helpful when it comes to science courses. It’s basically what you learned in lecture but taught by a student who got an A in that class the previous semester so they typically explain things differently than professors do. There is also free tutoring for math courses through the math department. Heather will give you a list of places to get help on campus and I suggest you take advantage of that list. When it comes to going to your professor for help, sometimes you don’t even know what you don’t know. When you are so lost you don’t know what questions to ask, look up some practice problems and they can help guide you on what you need to learn. Then you can go to your professor and ask them specific questions that will actually give you the answers you need. And your Terry family is always willing to help! A lot of us sophomores and a few juniors will be living in Murray next year so feel free to ask us for help anytime; odds are one of us will be in the 3rd floor study lounge regardless of what time you walk by.
3. Find a study method that works for you
This is something you’ll have to figure out on your own and it may take you a few stressful exams and maybe an all-nighter before you get it down, and that is completely fine. Even if you had the best study method of all your classmates in high school, you are going to have to at least tweak it a little bit for studying for a college exam. Or if you are like me and didn’t really have to study until college, you may work through a few different methods until you find one that works for you.
And studying can mean different things for different classes. For one class, you may just have to review your notes and look over the PowerPoints again. For another class, you may have to go back and actually teach yourself the concepts you are going to be tested over. It can seem really overwhelming now but don’t worry. You are all incredibly intelligent, hardworking people who will find a way to succeed.
4. Remember that your friends, family, and Terry family are always here for you
You’ve probably heard this already but I’m going to tell you again anyway: you are going to fail and that is okay. And I don’t mean fail as in fail a test or a class (even though you might do both), I mean fail as in not do as well as you could have or should have. I remember thinking that everyone in my Terry class had everything so together and I was a mess who most days, was surprised anyone let me live on my own, much less paid me to do so. Then after spending maybe 20 minutes in the study lounge, I figured out that none of us have it together, but we are trying and moving in the right direction. When I’m stressing about an exam or a project, I like to call my mom and have her talk to me about what my family is doing at home. It distracts me from stressing for a little bit and reminds me that my family loves me and is always cheering for me, even from 400 miles away.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your family, friends, or especially your fellow Terrys. Odds are they are feeling something similar to you and, at the very least, it’s nice to have someone to stress out over exams with.
Your freshman year is going to be filled with extremely challenging moments, but also wonderful memories. You are going to grow in way you didn’t think were possible. You are going to struggle through some classes; you may fail a test or forget about an assignment (or two or ten) and frankly, it is going to suck. But you will learn a little bit, recover, and keep going. And you don’t have to go through any of this alone. You now have over 200 people who would be willing to help you through anything life could throw at you. And if you ever want to stress over an exam together, the door to room 331 is always open!