"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Tips and tricks to master college

Life editor James Watson shares advice with the class of 2027
James Watson shares his tips for success in college (OGB Archives).
James Watson shares his tips for success in college (OGB Archives).

1. Listen to yourself 

College demands a lot from you physically, socially and mentally — Wake Forest especially. It’s vital for your success as a Demon Deacon to know yourself well. If you’re having a wildly unproductive day or night, don’t force it. That’s probably a good sign that you’re mentally tapped out for the time being. Stroll around Reynolda, take a nap, anything to reset for later when you can be more productive. If you’re maybe starting to feel a little sick and are unsure, just listen to your body and maybe sleep in a little that morning. The idea is to know when your body or psyche is in need and to fulfill that need, not ignore it or force something you can’t do. Wellness must always come first in the Forest. 

2. Ask For Help 

I was not always the well-adjusted James you see before you. My first semester was an exercise in academic trial-and-error — but mostly error. My friends like to joke about the many “new plans” I would come up with during our first semester. I never quite felt like I was doing anything right and constantly felt the need to revolutionize my workflow or routine in new, radical ways. Some of these methods were indeed stupid, some worked (don’t let the haters get you down — lecturing to an empty classroom IS an effective study method), but I still felt like I was floundering. I was nearing finals week on what felt like a low note. Self-help will only get you so far. Thus, I present to you: CLASS. The Wake Forest Center for Learning, Access, and Student Success (C.L.A.S.S.). As soon as my feet were back on campus following Thanksgiving break, I made a CLASS appointment, and that has made all the difference. They provide a wide variety of services, including being able to prescribe you testing accommodations. The counseling I’ve received at CLASS has been a game-changer for my academic success and wellbeing. I can’t recommend it enough. Never be afraid of asking for help. 

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3. Give yourself grace

Congratulations on making it to Wake Forest! It’s all gonna work out eventually, but the transition to college can be scary and sometimes rough. You will find your group, you will do good in your classes, and you will have fun. You just gotta give yourself grace and be patient with yourself. This is all brand new. 

4. Break the bubble 

Get off campus! Leave! Even if you’re used to more bustling urban hubs, Winston-Salem has charm and quirks in spades. There’s a bevy of fun stores, cafes and parks to explore. There is much to experience and learn by getting off campus. 

5. Prioritize Sleep 

For many of you this is your first taste of capital-I-independence. It’ll be extremely tempting, especially in the beginning, to forgo a sleep schedule for all of the exciting things you or your friends are doing. Do them! Go have fun. But then, we gotta pull things together a bit. Find your balance. I can’t impress upon you just how important sleep is. Some of you are night owls, sure. But sleep is the most powerful asset you have to boost your productivity. Also —  all of us are about to get sick. It just happens. Like the tide coming in and out, or the changing of seasons. Sleep boosts your immune system like nothing else can. So get your favorite pack of Sleepytime tea out, dawn your finest night robe, stocking cap, grab your bronze candle holder and hit the hay early every once in a while. Your future self will thank you. 

6. Talk To Your Professors

I know. You’ve probably heard this one a million times from parents, grandparents and other people who care about you and want you to succeed — but it’s true! Whether you feel comfortable raising your hand and answering a lot of questions, or you plan on catching your professor after class or you even want to make time to visit them during office hours, I promise you that getting to know your instructors can only ever help you. (And if you’re really shy, even an email every once and a while about your thoughts on the class can make a good impression.) For starters, you will be more engaged in the class, making learning easier and more enjoyable. Also, you will build key relationships that will be invaluable down the road for things like letters of recommendation and awards. And, perhaps most importantly, you are much more likely to receive precious gifts such as deadline extensions, excused absences, rounded grades and other forms of help that can mean the whole world deep into a challenging semester. Wake Forest professors are brilliant people, but you’ll be surprised at just how kind and personable they can be, as well — they truly want to see you excel. When you take the time to show them that you care about their class, it makes it much easier for them to help you get where you want to be.

7. Don’t Try To Do Everything

At Wake Forest, there is a lot of pressure to constantly be doing something. For the most part, this is a healthy phenomenon. But you must be careful not to spread yourself too thin. Try out a lot of clubs. Make a lot of friends. Play a lot of intramurals. But be honest with yourself that you can’t do everything. If you overload yourself with superfluous clubs and organizations, you will be doing a disservice to what you really care about. So my advice is to give a few things outside of your comfort zone a chance, but work within your means, and don’t sign up for something if you don’t truly believe you will have the time for it. And if it turns out you can’t justify the time you’re spending with something, don’t be afraid to cut it out of your schedule. Chances are, it will be better for both parties.

Update August 28: This article has been updated to show the names of both its authors.

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About the Contributors
James Watson
James Watson, Arts & Culture Editor
James Watson is a sophomore from Wilmington, N.C. who plans on majoring in politics and international affairs and minoring in classical studies. Outside of OGB, James is heavily involved in state and local politics and the director of Deacs Decide on campus. A host on Wake Radio, James loves the sound of his own voice. He is also a serial tweeter.
Adam Coil
Adam Coil, Arts & Culture Editor
Adam Coil is a junior from Marietta, Ohio, majoring in English. He loves to write short stories, play chess online and fall asleep during the day reading.

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