Being a first generation high school graduate and college-attendee, I am learning my way through experience. Starting at UNLV, I found the same slogan repeated throughout the university: “15 to Finish”. Essentially, it means that taking fifteen credits a semester will allow you to graduate in four years. Those four years seem to be the more common amount of time spent on getting a degree and it also saves you money because you are spending less time in school. Fifteen credits averages out to 5 classes a semester, which did not sound too bad as I began enrolling in classes.
Man, was I wrong.
Although I am only in my second semester of college, I have picked up a few tips on how to meet all my deadlines, study for all my exams, and still manage to get the grade I want.
1. Invest in a planner.
During the beginning of each semester, UNLV has booths set up around campus. At these booths, they offer FREE planners that also include dates and times of events that are being hosted at the university. You can also go out and purchase your own agenda but the point is that it is so much more helpful to have one! Download one on your phone or even jot reminders down. I used to never use a planner until I realized that I could not keep up with my assignments. Now I do not even complete a homework if it is not written in my planner for the week. It also helps to write due dates down in advance and what you are going to complete that day so you can manage your time correctly. It is better to start sooner than later so that you can get used to utilizing your planner!
2. Do not procrastinate!
I know you have heard this time and time again. It is obviously easier said than done but it is definitely not impossible. As the semester progresses, you can feel less and less motivated to get up to do work. Everyone feels the same way but you are going to feel a lot better when you work on your assignments daily for a short amount of time versus spending an entire day working through them. Trust me, I have been there, done that, and I personally feel more discouraged when I have to sit for hours cramming right before a deadline when I know I could have just worked on them throughout the week. I know life can get in the way but you also need to know when to say no to plans so that you can work smarter and not harder. My first-year seminar professor said that as an undergraduate student, he would dedicate his Friday afternoons doing schoolwork so that he could party hard on the weekends without a worry in the world. Maybe you could do the same!
3. Accept all the help you can get and do not be afraid to ask questions.
I know how it feels to not want to raise your hand during class in case you have a “dumb question” or you just do not like having to speak in front of so many people. First of all, and I know you have also heard this a million times before but it does not make it any less true, there is no such thing as a dumb question. You are going to struggle if you pretend to know what is going on during lectures when in reality you have no idea. That does not affect anyone else but you, I learned that the hard way. If you don’t want to ask in the middle of class, talk to your professor during their office hours. They are literally paid to be in their office during those times to help their students. UNLV also offers tons of different services, like tutoring in the Academic Success Center or supplemental instruction (SI) sessions, that are there to help YOU. A majority of these services are going to be free (or shall I say, covered by your tuition) so you might as well use them to your advantage. It will be better for you in the long run.
4. Take time for yourself.
Now this is something that is in the back of your mind but a lot of us forget to actually do it. My parents tell me that my only job is school. Although it kind of is, it also does not define who I am. I can get overwhelmed and mentally, as well as physically, drained. When you find yourself feeling that way, regardless of how many things you have going on, take a step back and relax. Maybe even set a day aside out of the week where you only do things that you like to do. It creates balance in your life and your mental health comes before anything else. But use that time wisely!
If you still feel like fifteen credits is too much on your plate, there is no deadline for graduating college. Study at your own pace, take classes over the summer so there you have less to do during the semester. As far as those who would like to finish in four years, keep going! Do not let other people’s experiences and stories intimidate or scare you, this is your journey. You’re doing amazing sweetie and these four years will fly by and be worth it!
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Favorite Thing to Do in Vegas: Hiking!