Two female students in masks standing in front of Sewall Hall wearing Colorado Proud t-shirts. Pandemic or no pandemic, college can be a big adjustment. To help you through your first semester, we asked current CU Boulder students what advice they had to give new students. Here’s what they shared:

Read the syllabus.

Every class comes with a syllabus. It’s one of the most important documents you’ll have to make it through the semester. Use your syllabus to plan out your study time, and write down important dates in your planner to keep track of tests, projects and other important deadlines. This can help you feel more organized and prepared for all your classes.

Balance studying and having fun.

College can be a hectic time between class, homework, internships, socializing with friends, extracurriculars and more. With so much to do, it can be hard to find the right balance, and sometimes the “work hard, play hard” mentality can leave us feeling burnt out. 

If you’re feeling stressed about all of the things you need to do, it can be helpful to plan out your time each week. Take into consideration your classes, study time, work responsibilities and opportunities for fun. Create a schedule that allows you to be flexible. Keep in mind that some weeks will be busier than others, but it’s important to find time to enjoy yourself when you can, even if it’s only for 20 minutes.

Your health is #1.

We are in the prime of our lives, and it may feel like we’re invincible. However, it’s important to take precautions to protect our health. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, following health practices is even more important than usual. Wearing a face covering, washing your hands, physically distancing yourself, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep (7-9 hours per night) are critical to avoid illness. Protecting our own health and the health of others will significantly impact whether we are remote or in-person this semester.

You’re not alone.

Taking care of our mental health is just as important as our physical health. If you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope in these uncertain times, you’re not alone. Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers a number of great opportunities for students to take care of their mental health, including informal consultations, brief individual counseling, group therapy, workshops and much more! If you’re not sure where to begin, CAPS offers free online screenings to help you create your own individualized care plan with the help of a provider. 

Don’t stress about going out every weekend.

If you’re tired, need to study or just need some down time, it’s okay to stay in! Prioritize your own needs and what will make you feel good long term, not just in the moment. Consider other ways you can connect with friends, like hosting game night or enjoying a morning hike.

Don’t be afraid to fail.

Easier said than done, right? While it may be challenging to imagine ourselves failing or facing it in the moment, it’s important to remember that failure isn’t final. That being said, it can be easy to get caught up in negative thoughts about failure. One way to combat this is to eliminate “should have” statements from your internal dialogue. For instance, instead of telling yourself “I should have done better on that assignment”, tell yourself “I did my best with the time and resources I had.” Show yourself kindness, and acknowledge the effort you put towards the things you do.

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