As a senior at Clemson, I feel fortunate to have had a positive academic experience throughout my time here. My classes have been interesting, and I have enjoyed all the professors I’ve had. While you may not always like your classes or professors, I think trying to make the most out of your academic experience is such an important part of college.

Connecting with my professors has been integral to my academic experience. If I am struggling in a class, it has always been helpful for me to meet with the professor to see how I can improve. Sometimes meeting with professors can be scary, but in my experience, they have always been so helpful and welcoming. I normally see an improvement in my work after meeting with professors. Showing you are engaged in class by going to office hours, participating in class (even if just active listening), and turning in work on time go a long way toward connecting with professors and showing that you want to do well in a class. Through making connections early on, I have been able to get involved with research and expand my professional network. Since I have formed meaningful relationships with some of my professors, they are willing to write me letters of recommendation or job references. I have also relied on some of my professors for career and graduate school advice. Their advice has helped me decide on my path after college.

Organization has been so helpful to my academics in college. In high school, it was easier to stay organized because I saw my teachers every day, and they would always remind students of upcoming assignments and exams. In college, it is harder to stay on top of my assignments and exams. I only see my professors at most three times a week, and they may not remind students about exams and assignments as often. 

I’ve also found that there are more demands and responsibilities than in high school, like maintaining an apartment, working increased hours and holding more leadership positions in organizations. One tip that has worked well for me is writing down all of the due dates for all my classes at the start of the semester; I know when due dates are coming up well in advance, and I know ahead of time when I have a stressful week with several exams and papers due. Personally, having a physical planner works best for me rather than solely relying on Google Calendar or a different planner/scheduling app, because I retain more of what I write down, and I like the satisfaction of crossing things off my to-do list. Find what works best for you. If I don’t have my planner available, I’ll use my phone to jot down an event or task, but I normally try to physically write it down as soon as I can.

Time management has also been essential to my academic experience. When I was a first-year student, I did not know how to prioritize, and I was up late writing papers or studying for exams the night before. As a senior, I still occasionally stay up late studying or writing papers, but I have definitely improved. I also try to do all the readings for a class when they are assigned instead of reading all of them right before a test. I think time management and organization go together, but time management has been more of a struggle for me. Time management is often learned through experience rather than being taught, but learning how to prioritize and spacing out studying and big assignments across several days have been helpful to my time management. If I keep up with the readings, it is so much easier to know what’s important and  remember more of the information because I’ve read it already. When prioritizing, I try to tackle what is due sooner or the biggest assignment to get done. If I have a 10-page research paper due at the end of the week and 50 pages of reading to do for a class tomorrow, I may write a paragraph of my research paper first and then tackle the reading since I want to start on the paper several days in advance.

In my four years at Clemson, making meaningful connections with professors, organization and time management have all been instrumental to my academic experience. I know my experience would not have been the same if I had not consistently emphasized and worked on maintaining these three areas of my academic experience. These skills I have gained in college have also been instrumental in my professional experience so far, and I know they will serve me well in my post-graduate life. 

Written by: Sydney Ford


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