Saturday, September 6, 2014

Enjoy September, but . . .

September is a great month for new NCC students.  Nice weather, new friends, a cool campus, almost nonstop social activities (parties, tournaments, club fairs, rallies, games, etc. etc.)--who could ask for a better start to college?

And classes?  Not a problem.  Required readings, tests, quizzes, papers, projects, and research assignments (all probably listed on course outlines) seem light years away.  Nothing to sweat about--plenty of time to get serious later on. . . .

Fast forward to December.  Those new college students, many now pretty stressed out (and maybe pretty behind), are scrambling to finish papers, catch up on readings, pass exams, and salvage their semester.  Asked the most important lesson they've learned about college, most say they need to start working earlier.  Many admit they spent too much of September--and even October--having fun and putting off studying.

This isn't a sermon on the evils of enjoying college life.   Socializing should definitely be an important part of your college experience.  And what better time to sample that experience than the first weeks of the fall semester, a time of promise and possibilities?  That new club, that interesting new girl or guy, that upcoming party or pep rally--all are intriguing.  And all "happen," more or less, this month.

But so do your classes.  For many new students, the biggest challenge of starting college is finding ways to be involved in not just the life of their campus but that of their classes as well. Striking this balance is tough--just ask students who've lived it up too much in September and paid later on--but essential.  And it involves more just going to class.  It means keeping up, paying attention, being mentally engaged, and--when you've work to do--telling friends you can't hang out and will see them later.

Formidable tasks for sure, especially given all of the sweet temptations of September.  But consider the alternative: waking up in the middle of the semester and realizing you're heading over the cliff academically.

Enjoy September, a month with lots to recommend it.  But also remember why you're in college--and where you want to be come December.

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