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Tips for Your First Week at College

Make going back to school less stressful whether you are starting a certificate program, attending college right after high school or returning to school as an adult. Here are some tips to prepare you for your first week.

Getting ready to go back to school can be a hectic period. Prepare yourself for the start of a new program or semester so you can still have time for work and family.

Familiarize yourself with your learning environment. If you are attending a brick-and-mortar school, map your route and determine how long it will take to arrive. Identify safe walking routes, classroom locations and find parking options. Consider a practice run before your first day. If you are taking online courses, be sure you can access your online classroom and know how to contact the help system at your school for technical issues. Many schools offer orientation programs you can attend before the first day of school. If you are attending an online, self-paced program, set a "first day" to kick off your program and prepare a schedule to keep you focused and successful.

Pick up materials in advance. Purchase books and supplies ahead of time to be ready on the first day. Buy books from the campus bookstore or online; allow extra time for shipping for online purchases. You don't want to fall behind waiting for a book to arrive.

Contact your instructor. If you can, get a copy of your syllabus, program or module requirements to review before your first day of class to have a better idea of what to expect on your first day. Many online instructors will post the syllabus before the semester begins.

Arrange for child care if necessary. Have a back-up plan in place should something fall through. Allow for a little extra time for dropping off your child the first week. If your child has not been to a day care center or left with a babysitter before, be prepared for tears.

The earlier you prepare, the better you will feel when your first week arrives. Remember to give yourself more prep time if you are also handling a move or deployment. Once you are prepared, you're on the right track for a successful semester.

For more tips for a successful semester, visit the Academic, Test Taking and Study Skills Readiness section of the Education, Training and Licensing lifecycle stage of MySECO. You can also speak with a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.

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