Nadir says: My freshman year, I knew a guy who was lots of fun. He had Halo tournaments, he knew where the good parties were, and he was always there if you were bored.
I wondered how he got his work done. He stayed up late every night, and after the first month I almost never saw him in the class we had together. Then he got put on academic suspension for failing three classes, and I stopped wondering how he got his work done.
Duh, right? This sounds obvious. But there are always people who don't do it. If you don't go to class, you'll start to fail classes, which is a very expensive waste of your time.
It's easy to get distracted by some of the non-academic things around you—dating, parties, friends, freedom—and that stuff can be an important part of your experience at college. Alternately, sometimes students find the new freedom they have at college, and the corresponding responsibility, to be overwhelming. If you're stressed or depressed, there's help available: check out your school's study or tutoring center. Student health centers can also help you find someone to talk to about how you're feeling.
It's OK to miss a class once in a while, of course. Everyone gets sick sometimes. You don't have to fall behind as a result, though: get some classmates' phone numbers on the first day. Professors often leave it up to you to get the notes from someone for a class you missed.
One of the biggest differences between high school and college is that in college, you won't be reminded of your responsibilities. Each professor will give you a syllabus, which is a complete guide to the class, including assignments. They will expect you to know when tests are coming up, when essays are due, and when you should be finishing chapter 12. Some teachers are stricter about this than others, but nobody will hold your hand or or give you back points on a late paper because you forgot when it was due. Keeping a calendar and a to-do list can be a major help in staying organized.
Do you check your email every day? If not, college is the time to start. Lots of professors send email with instructions about assignments, changes to class schedules or locations, and other important information. Similarly, don't wait until the last minute to check your school email account, either. Professors often assign readings prior to the first day of class. They may have sent you an email about it.
Bring your books for the first day of class. You should be ready to dive into coursework right from the start.
Bring stuff that will let you take notes effectively. For some people, that's a spiral notebook (one for each class, to keep things straight), pens and highlighters. For others, it's a laptop computer—although not all teachers allow laptops in their classes. Either way, bring folders so that you can store any handouts. If you think you might stop by a computer lab while you're on campus, bring a flash drive. Also make sure you've got a couple of dollars, in case you get hungry or thirsty. Finally, Don't forget to bring your room key (if you're living on campus) and your student ID.
Don't want to be the person trying to sneak silently into the back of the class after the bell? Leave earlier than you think you need to, especially the first week or two. If you walk, it might not be as close as you thought; if you drive, you might have trouble finding parking. Make a good first impression by showing up prepared and on time.