What to do if you are starting college in the spring semester

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Most college freshmen begin their classes in the fall semester that immediately follows their high school graduation. But in some cases, maybe after a deferral from their top-choice school or when they take extra time off from studying after high school, new college students wait until the spring to start.

If you’ve decided to enroll as a freshman in the spring, be prepared for a slightly different experience than your peers who did so in the fall. It’s common to feel like an outsider when you arrive on campus in the spring, unfamiliar with the places and faces around you.

When you arrive on campus, you may find that the freshmen who’ve enrolled in the fall seem very comfortable, having found friends, joined clubs, and learned what college academics are all about. You, on the other hand, may feel nervous, and that’s totally natural — most college freshmen do feel nervous when they start their first semester.

With that said, starting college in the spring semester is a little different than starting in the fall. Knowing what your experience will be like before you arrive on campus can help calm your nerves and ensure you start off on the right foot, however. Here’s what you need to know about starting college in the spring semester:

REACH OUT TO YOUR PEERS

Your peers may not necessarily know you’re new, especially if you’ve enrolled at a large university with thousands — or even tens of thousands — of students. With fall-enrolled freshmen fairly settled into their friend groups, it’s important to introduce yourself so you can break in.

Start by introducing yourself to the people in your classes and dorm building. And don’t be afraid to ask for help —like where to find a classroom — if you need it! Many of your peers will gladly help you out because they were once new college students themselves and know what it feels like.

GO OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

To a spring-enrolled freshman who lives in a dorm, a roommate can seem like a true gift. After all, roommates can often be built-in friends: sharing a room, you share something in common, and that can make it easy to strike up conversation. But while roommates are great, you shouldn’t solely cling to your roommate — it’s not fair to him or her and it’s not good for you.

You and your roommate may become inseparable best friends, but it’s important to still socialize with many different groups as soon as you arrive on campus. Even if you’re not good friends with everyone, just getting smiles and waves from those you know can make you feel immensely more comfortable on a new campus.

SPEND TIME EXPLORING

It can be tempting to hide out in your dorm room for at least the first few weeks of your first semester as you acclimate to college life, but it’s important to spend some time exploring your new campus so you can gain familiarity with it.

Exploring campus has an importance that transcends socialization purposes: You need to know where important health and safety resources — like the campus medical center and police station — are located as much as you need to know where you can find the main library and best places to find good coffee. Carry a campus map with you in your bag or download one to your phone so you don’t get lost.

SPEAK UP IN CLASS

It can be hard to speak up when you feel like all eyes are on you as the “new kid,” but you can’t let your newbie status impact your class participation grades. Introduce yourself to your professors on the first day of class to help them learn your name. Be a part of class conversations by contributing intelligently and appropriately.

Another good way to build a solid rapport with professors is to communicate with them regularly. Whether you have questions, need extra help, or simply want to learn more, it’s a good idea to attend your professors’ office hours. This demonstrates you care about your grades, the class, and your professors’ knowledge—and professors most definitely take note of this (in a good way).

This article was originally posted here.

Photo is from here.

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