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First Semester Of College Starter Kit

by Margaret Hurst
Marketing Specialist

August 04, 2015

Going back to school is a big choice—one you’ll thank yourself for time and time again. But starting off in your first semester can be intimidating. Whether you’re earning your degree online or in person, you might have some apprehensions about starting school.

There’s nothing to worry about. School is just one more hurdle waiting to be jumped. Stick with us and you’ll not only survive your first semester, you’ll thrive.

There’s a lot you can do to set yourself up for success before your first semester even begins. First things first: enrollment.


Have you enrolled yet? If so, how many units (also known as credit hours) did you enroll in? Units aren’t arbitrary numbers. While most courses are 3 units, some courses may be 2 or 4. Typically, a 3 unit course requires 3 hours of contact hours (hours spent in class) per week, and 6-9 hours spent outside of class on homework or reading. Plan accordingly. If you’re working full- or part-time while going back to school, make sure you don’t take on more than you can handle. When in doubt, ask your advisor for guidance on enrollment.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is how you get school paid for—sometimes for free. The first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The sooner you do this, the sooner you find out what scholarships, grants and loans you automatically qualify for. But don’t stop there. There are thousands of scholarships that you can apply for. Check out your school’s financial aid website for details and information on how to apply. One of the best ways to be successful in your first semester is to make sure you’re not stressed out about the cost.


Buy a planner, download a scheduling app, or make best friends with your phone’s calendar. Whatever you choose, you need some way of staying on top of your new school work load. When you’re juggling school, a career and a family, you need to extra diligent in planning your time.

Get To Know Your Professors And Classmates

You’re not going through your first semester of college alone. Your professors and classmates are right there with you and are often the best people to go to if you get overwhelmed or don’t understand all of the material. Try starting a study group or get involved on the class’s online discussion board, and check out our tips on how to get to know your professor.

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