Opinion: Learning from a difficult first semester is essential to the college experience

Students have options to make the second half of their first year more manageable.

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Opinion: Learning from a difficult first semester is essential to the college experience

The Old Capital from the roof of UIHC in Iowa City, Iowa on March 25, 2019.

The Old Capital from the roof of UIHC in Iowa City, Iowa on March 25, 2019.

Roman Slabach

The Old Capital from the roof of UIHC in Iowa City, Iowa on March 25, 2019.

Roman Slabach

Roman Slabach

The Old Capital from the roof of UIHC in Iowa City, Iowa on March 25, 2019.

Ashley Dawson, Arts Reporter

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Whether you had a first semester that seemed to fly by with little complications or you had a rough time navigating the obstacles that come with college life, break is done and it’s time to start all over again. No matter how your fall semester went, spring semester will be what you make of it.

I have learned some lessons to make this time around more positive. I started my college experience by dropping a class to avoid a rude professor, making a room change to escape a toxic living space, and withdrawing from another class midsemester due to my own lack of preparation.

One of the most vital lessons I learned is time management. Instead of just going with the flow every day, I plan out entire weeks at a time. Using Microsoft Excel, I made a spreadsheet schedule with my classes, jobs, and even possible study hours. I also built in mandatory relaxation time each day for things such as yoga, painting, playing video games, or anything that I feel may lower my stress and allow me to relax.

I’m not the only person who has developed better habits this semester. University of Iowa first-year student Maya Heckart discovered that finding a study spot aside from your own room and public lounges helps keep distractions at bay and study as efficiently as possible.

Finding a study space isn’t the only way to excel in the second semester. UI first-year student Mason Sells said different people may need to dedicate different amounts of time to studying.

One of the most vital lessons I learned is time management. Instead of just going with the flow every day, I plan out entire weeks at a time.”

“I’ve seen many of my friends study way too much and many of my friends study little to none. My advice would be to find the middle area, whatever that means for you,” Sells said.

He recommends taking walks around campus and enjoying the scenery instead of being cramped up in your room all the time.

Academics aren’t the only thing that students should focus on throughout the semester, though. There are many opportunities available at the UI, including student organizations, cultures to explore, and getting involved in the community.

UI first-year student Katey Namanny said she struggled in her fall semester despite being one who enjoys change and challenges.

“The biggest thing I learned was to talk about how I was feeling to individuals, whether it be sharing with first-year students or upperclassmen. It is incredibly helpful,” she said.

More than likely, the stress that one may feel in the new semester is normal and many people share similar experiences. College can present people with new feelings of stress, anxiety, and homesickness, but there is so much one can do to overcome these natural emotions.

“College is about so much more than walking away with a degree,” Namanny said. “It’s about changing who you are and being a part of the amazing things happening at college. Being involved inspires you and helps you feel more at home.”

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