Kristi Wolf: Tips for the college student

February 5, 2011 

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY BEA AHBECK Kristi Wolf, the new Gown & Town columnist from Merced College.

BEA AHBECK — Merced Sun-Star

The spring semester is in full swing, and we are finishing up the third week at Merced College.

As a student and a secretary, I see a lot of confused faces at the beginning of the semester; many of them are students.

I would like to offer some pointers to all the current and future Merced College students in hopes of helping you succeed at this campus and others.

My first word of advice is FOG. Yes, that's right. I said fog.

You know, the moist, sometimes dense mist, hanging low in our field of vision every morning. It is difficult to drive in. So my advice is: slow down.

You want to make it to class on time, I understand. But fog and fast speeds don't mix well. It is better to be a little late than never to arrive. So please, set your alarms just 15 minutes earlier and leave the house 15 minutes earlier. You'll thank me for that later.

This brings me to my second tip: Time management.

This is a tool you will learn in school, build on in college and hone once you get out into the working world. It is a good tool no matter what you are doing or what is going on in your life.

Managing our time is probably the biggest thing any of us do in a given day without even realizing it.

But learning specifically how to manage our time while in school is detrimental to our success here. Let's take into consideration the extra time we need to get ready and the fog issue. Again, a little earlier getting up and a little earlier getting out of the house will go a long way.

Time management means planning ahead for attending classes, doing homework, dating and spending time with friends or family.

Remember this: each unit of credit requires two to three hours study outside the classroom. We can all do the math. I have 13 units this semester. That means I should spend 26 to 39 hours studying and doing homework.

Whew! But, it's a small price to pay if you want to pass your classes and get good grades on top of it.

Read the syllabus you receive from each of your instructors. The syllabus is our contract with each of our instructors. This tells us the rules of class, what's expected of us and what we can expect from the instructor.

Most instructors will tell you how much time outside of class should be spent studying. Listen to them. They should know.

Third: Study Central. What is that? Study Central is located in the Student Union building at the end of the hallway behind the cafeteria.

Students can go here to study, to get tutoring help and use computers to print homework and reports. There's always an instructor in the room who can help you.

Study Central also puts on some really useful miniclasses designed specifically for student success. These are held mostly on a weekly basis, but at the very least twice a month.

Some topics: Time management, developing study habits, navigating in an online class and many others. These sessions are generally in the afternoon, last for one hour and are a solid asset to any student, new or seasoned.

And finally, when in doubt, ask for help. If you are struggling in any of your classes, please don't be afraid to ask for help. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Hey! I've asked my 17-year-old for algebra help. If I can do that, you can easily go to an instructor.

Instructors hold office hours, and those who don't are more than willing to meet after class in order to help students. They want you to succeed. The Tutorial Center is another fine place to go. They can set you up with a tutor in any subject you need assistance with.

College can be daunting, homework time-consuming. But if you would take even one piece of the advice I offer here, your campus life could be so much better. Better, not necessarily easier. We all have to admit, it's hard to be a responsible adult.

Kristi Wolf is a full-time secretary and student at Merced College, majoring in administrative office management, with aspirations of being a writer.

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