Whether you’re a freshman losing sleep due to academic anxiety or a returning student who wants to put a rocky previous year behind you, fall semester can be a golden opportunity. It can set the tone for a rich and successful college experience, or (if you blew your first year or two) provide a clean slate upon which to compose a grand educational finale. Here are a few tried and true tools I hope will help you survive the semester.Get to know your academic adviser. If you already have one and the two of you are not exactly hitting it off, find out from your department or college if you can switch to an adviser of your choosing. You may not have a major in mind when you first arrive at FAMU, but you can plunge into the university’s general education requirements right away. As you sweat your way through Biological Science and Public Speaking, think about the things that interest you and the issues you care about. Perhaps you can translate them into a major that will eventually translate into gainful employment. Be prepared to defend your choice to your parents if they’re paying the bills!Speaking of choosing a major, consider using your elective hours to explore different subject areas that appeal to you. Avoid taking a course just because it fits your schedule.Now a word about employment: Remember, your first priority is school. Granted, many students have to work while in college, but before you accept a job, find out how flexible the hours are and whether your boss would be willing to schedule around your classes. A part-time job is also a great way to get a preview of things to come after graduation. Try to find work that has something in common with your career goals.Get to know your professors. Introducing yourself to the instructors and taking advantage of their office hours can’t hurt and usually helps. Your professors can often help you pin down a major. Keep in mind, we are highly educated people who have seen and experienced a thing or two. Pick our brains!Finally, find something that rejuvenates you. For some people, Sunday service does the trick. A walk or jog in the park is good, too. Take a 40-minute road trip to the beach at Panacea. Whatever it is that re-charges your system, do it. It takes energy to turn over a new leaf.
Holly Edgell is an assistant professor of journalism.