Whether you are starting college fresh out of high school or pursuing a college degree many years later, gearing up for higher education for the very first time can be a bit nerve-racking for every new student.

Consider the following tips on preparing for college to give you the best chance of being successful in your classes and earning as many A’s as possible.

1. Nail down your class schedule.

If you have not done so already, it is critical to schedule your classes as soon as possible. This way, you may have more options to choose from on days and times of certain classes. Plus, cementing this information will give you a roadmap on how to mentally prepare yourself for the first semester.

It is important to work with an academic advisor to ensure you are taking classes you can handle and that you will not be overwhelmed during your first term as a college student. It can be tempting to cram in too many classes at once, but for new students, this is not a wise move. At least in the beginning, pace yourself to see what you can handle.

2. Gather up everything you need to succeed.

There is obviously so much more than what meets the eye when it comes to starting college. You will need a variety of materials, supplies, and resources to effectively navigate your academic life.

Consider having the following ready before your courses begin:

  • Textbooks: Purchase your textbooks in advance of starting your coursework. Glance through them to familiarize yourself with them. Buying used or digital textbooks can be a fantastic money-saving option in many cases as well.
  • Supplemental materials: If your professors recommend any supplemental study guides or other materials, definitely try to obtain these as well. Preparing for college means getting ready for a whole new approach to academics, so having these extra support materials can give you a nice boost as you adjust to the new study requirements of college.
  • A calendar: Whether it’s an old-fashioned paper calendar or an app for your iPhone or tablet, make sure you have a calendar with you. This will help you stay on track and prioritize your assignments, exams, professor and group meetings, and anything else you will need to keep tabs on throughout the semester.

3. Reach out to your professors.

If you are starting college online or will attend a physical location, it can’t hurt to reach out to the professors who will be teaching your classes. Send them an email to introduce yourself and learn more about their backgrounds. Ask any questions or bring up any concerns you might have about your upcoming classes to start a conversation. In many cases, a professor may be able to put your mind at ease before your first class even begins. This early interaction also demonstrates your initiative and can often put you in a better position in the course before the first day of class even arrives.

4. Network with other students.

Find ways to make connections with other students who are starting college with you or those who have been at the same school for a bit. The concept of a “study buddy” is no joke. Having someone to bounce ideas off of, study with, or simply to share experiences with is invaluable.

Ideally, see if you can track down any students specifically in your degree program—from an associate degree program to a doctoral program. Perhaps you will progress through the program in the same cohort, making it even more meaningful to have one or a few individuals in your academic circle.

5. Research opportunities to be involved outside of your classes.

Interested in joining the Esports team, a social sorority, or being considered for an academic honor society? Getting involved in groups and organizations outside of your classes can lead to a number of impactful connections, friendships, and opportunities to gain experience for your resume or even help you academically.

Even if you attend courses online, schools like Saint Leo University offer virtual clubs, chapters, and associations for students of all majors. Who knows, you just might make a friend or find a study buddy through these important interactions. Be sure to research all of these potential group opportunities prior to starting college so you can get involved at the onset.

6. Stay on top of your financial aid.

Understanding certain financial terms, rules, deadlines, and everything else that goes along with securing funding to help pay for college can be overwhelming at times, especially for new students starting college. This is why it is essential to stay on top of any financial aid for which you qualify or already plan to receive.

The good news is that institutions like Saint Leo University have a Student Financial Services team dedicated to helping all students navigate the financial aid process. From completing the FAFSA to finding private scholarships to ensuring you take advantage of your military benefits, you will be in good hands from a financial aid standpoint when attending Saint Leo.

Remember that when your financial aid circumstances are in working order, you can spend more time focusing on making A’s in your courses rather than stressing about your tuition.