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You’ve Made It To Campus! Now What? These Tips Can Help You Navigate College Life

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This story is adapted from Life Kit’s weekly newsletter, which arrives in inboxes each Friday. Subscribe here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed student life on college campuses.

It has been more than a year since universities closed down their classrooms and transitioned to remote learning, but many high school graduates and returning college students are constantly adapting to new campus or state-wide regulations of in-person classes, testing and vaccination requirements.

These big decisions may be out of your hands, but you can still try to make the most out of your academic experience, personal relationships and wellbeing on campus. For new and returning college students, here are five Life Kit episodes that will guide you through this school year.

Congrats, you’re going to college! Now what?

You made it out of high school and plan on pursuing more school — meaning it’s time to map out what you want your college life to look like. Research shows that laying a strong foundation your first year is key to signing up for another and eventually, finishing your degree. This episode provides tips for enrolling in the right courses, finding a supportive community and connecting with mentors in and outside the classroom.

We’re all still getting used to Zoom school.

It’s been more than a year since universities initially transitioned from in-person to remote classes. But for students who took time off school during the pandemic, it isn’t easy to navigate their first virtual or hybrid semester. In this Life Kit episode, recent college grad Michelle Krallman says reaching out to academic advisers or professors is key to making a smooth transition. These professionals may not only offer you advice but they might also be more lenient with and understanding of your situation.

You can work hard without burning yourself out.

College classes aren’t easy. To study smarter not harder, cognitive scientist Pooja Agarwal suggests that students should not only take information in but also draw it back out. Her suggestions include taking handwritten notes or creating flashcards and reading them out loud when reviewing for exams. For more tips, check out this episode on taking useful notes and creating a study planner.

Friendships in college change all the time. It’s not your fault.

Returning to campus from a semester or year at home can be challenging. If a reunion with a friend is feeling awkward, friendship expert Shasta Nelson recommends assessing your friendship through the “friendship triangle” composed of consistency, positivity and vulnerability. You may be able to adjust whatever sides are off balance, but a friend, sometimes, is only present for a certain chapter of your student life — and that is OK too.

Access university resources to help you navigate student loans.

From digging through your school’s financial aid packages to creating a realistic budget to exploring federal loans, you have different avenues to pay for college. In this Life Kit episode, Lauren Schandevel, a student at the University of Michigan, shares her experience going to school on a budget. When feeling overwhelmed, remember that you’ve made it to college — you belong there.

We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. We recommend checking the Coronavirus Information Center for the most recent numbers and guidance.

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