Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jump In: The Impact of Your First Week

For many college students today marks the first week of classes. And for some, it’s time to dust off the backpack and the brain and begin a new year.

It’s easy to start by just dipping your toes in – not getting enough sleep the night before, zoning out as the professor reviews the syllabus, and kind of just skimming by that first week as a slow acclimation.

But the truth is – the way you start your first week of class will determine your grade at the end of the semester.

Have you ever swam in an ice cold spring or river? One time I went white-water rafting in Tennessee and the 50-degree water felt like daggers. Slowly wading from the shallow water to the deep to climb into the raft was painful. And getting splashed by annoying teenage boys was pure torture.

Jumping in the river from a rope swing, however, was really fun. I didn’t have as much time to dwell on the icy shock. Once I jumped in I began to have a great time.

College is very much like that river. Getting back into the routine of class, studying, and exams can be daunting. But it is not something to ease into, to expect to just happen.

You have to jump right in.  Do a swan dive, a cannon ball, a belly flop, or whatever you want, just go full force and don’t wait for the slow descent into stress or the shocking splash of an exam.

So how do you jump in?

You remember that this first week will determine your grade. You go in with vigor, with enthusiasm, and with the belief that you are successful and that you are going to get straight A’s.

You read the syllabus thoroughly. You mark in your planner when assignments and tests are going to be due. You set phone/calendar alarms (my fav is google calendar) to remind you of important due dates. You sit in the front of the class. You make friends in the first week.

You organize study groups. You scan the entire textbook. You get ahead on the first assignment.

You get to know the professor. You organize your binders, folders, backpack and make sure you have everything you need. You go to a club meeting, SGA, and/or a campus event. You wear nice outfits (e.g. not pajamas).

You go to the library.

Jump in.

College is a lot of work. But it is work that will pay off. And like jumping into that river – it can actually be a lot of fun. But what isn’t fun is being stressed and overwhelmed, being lonely, or feeling like you’re just not smart enough to get the grades you want.

The truth is you are smart enough. You control your grades.  And the way you approach this first week can prevent all of the stressors that often overwhelm college students as the semester progresses.

No matter what barriers you may face in pursuing your education, know and feel confident that you control your attitude and the effort you put forth.

And the perseverance and confidence you derive from jumping in will stay with you long after you receive your diploma.

In many ways I wish I was you right now. There was nothing I loved more than the first days of classes. Embrace them. Appreciate them. And remember that they can help you reach the goals you have for your life.

Success does not come to those who timidly, fearfully, or apathetically wade in the shallow waters. It comes to those who jump in with everything they've got. And if you’re the kind of person who reads a blog like this to the end, then I know you’re a jumper.

Thank you for reading and have an amazing first week :)

To read more about Isa's personal story how you can build relationships to: make positive friends, be more successful in academics and work, find the right people to connect with, and access the hidden job market, grab a FREE e-copy of the first chapter of Community College Success: How to Finish with Friends, Scholarships, Internships, and the Career of Your Dreams! Claim your free copy on the Facebook page!


  1. Morgane Van WaeyenbergheAugust 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    I'm loving your blog, Isa! I start first class as a grad student this semester and I'm going to keep my eye trained on your blog for inspiration!


  2. Thank you for your inspiring words! I know I can get all A's this semester now :D


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