Posts Tagged ‘college tips’
You have begun another year at college, or perhaps this is the first one! Most people would agree that while learning more about your major and being closer to your field is an incredibly rewarding experience, it’s life outside of academics that really makes these days some of the best of your life! To ensure that this semester meets that tall order, you may want to have these things as part of your survival kit.
In order for you to enjoy everything college has to offer, you’re going to need to invest some of your time in things other than your academics and trips home. There are clubs and activities to take part in and new friends to meet. You just need to have the time to venture out!
A Good Friend
If all of your good friends are at home, you’re going to need one in college! This is the person you will rant to when your professor adds two pages to the requirements for the paper you have already written. This will be the person who, when something ridiculous happens on your way to class, you cannot wait to tell him or her. Having someone to share your experiences with on campus will be crucial to your college life!
A Set of Personal Guidelines
While college is certainly the place to try new things and explore new ideas, most people with open minds still have some personal rules they would rather not break for one reason or another. Familiarize yourself with what some of these rules might be. There will be situations where these personal guidelines are challenged, and you don’t want to find yourself in an uncomfortable position.
A Taste for Interior Decorating
If you ever want to feel like college is your home, you’re going to need to spice up your dorm room a little bit. Cute, artsy wall decals, a poster of your favorite sports team, a giant TV, or a couple of plants will all help you to feel comfortable with where you’re living. You will also want to include photos of family members and friends back home. When the holidays come around, feel free to decorate for those, too!
The Ability to Put Your Needs First
Part of becoming an independent adult in college is being able to decide for yourself when it’s time to focus on academics, when it’s time to party, and when you’re better off curling up in your bed and reading a book, Friday night or not! You might have a friend who doesn’t care one bit about schoolwork and wants to hang out 24/7. You’re going to need the ability to say no when you have a cold or a test the next day. Doing so will make college life yours and nobody else’s.
Counseling Center Information
Sometimes, the drama in college life is too much for any one person to handle. Even if you never use it, it helps to have the counseling center information on hand. Know the number, and where it’s located, just in case.
As the eldest child in my family, I wasn’t lucky enough to get my hands on those glimmering snippets of valuable college information. I knew my father had a college roommate who put on The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited,” and danced after his final class every Friday, and I knew that movies I had seen portrayed college courses taught in something more like an arena than a twenty-five student classroom. My concept of college lied somewhere between these two ideas, and regardless of that fact, I took my first steps on my college campus ready for whatever freshman year would throw at me! Having graduated in 2009, here are three things I wish I had known on my first day.
There Are Better Places to Get Your Textbooks
For the first two years of my college education, I took the option of having the college bookstore collect everything I needed for my courses, placing it all neatly into a huge box, taping it up, and giving me a call when it was ready. Don’t get me wrong: this was highly convenient! I didn’t have to wait in the same line as the other hundred people looking to cash out, and I knew I had what I needed before the bookstore ran out. On the other hand, this was not the cheapest way to go, and taking back books professors decided they didn’t want the first week was a pain! If I had it to do over again, I think I would spend more time buying books off of Craigslist, buying used books online, or renting books!
Nobody Is THAT Perfect
My freshman year, I had big dreams, and I was going after them! For me, this meant getting to know the people around campus I idolized. I wanted to be like my RA, who was not only beautiful, she was brilliant in her double major, and a leader in a dozen organizations! I wanted to be like the president of one of my campus groups, who won tons of academic awards and everyone on campus knew him! I soon learned that my RA struggled with major body image issues and was miserable as far as relationships go. That guy on campus everyone knew? He frequently asked if he could copy my work. That’s when I learned these people weren’t perfect, and I was reaching for something that was never there. Of course, the lesson here is not to go around pointing out others’ flaws, but rather to not let the seemingly perfect perception of your classmates dampen your own confidence in yourself. Perfection isn’t a realistic goal, but improvement always is.
Not Everyone is Trustworthy
While there are certainly people I didn’t like, and who didn’t like me, I had not met too many people with truly poor intentions. My junior year of college, I was approached by a guy around my age who said he was selling magazines so he could study abroad. Seems legit, right? He wanted me to pay him in cash, and there just happened to be an ATM near where we were standing. How convenient, right?! After taking out a hundred dollars (he said he’d give me change), he took off with the money! I learned then that if something seems off, I would be willing to risk possibly disappointing someone to get out of the situation.
What’s so hard about college?
You might think it’s the coursework. After all, college level academics are more difficult than high school academics, and often times, the methods used to teach a college level course are unfamiliar to a freshman. You might think the hard part of college is making friends, as you’ve likely left most of yours, along with your family, behind.
While the academic and social aspects of college can be challenging, the students who haven’t figured out how to balance everything are those that have the toughest time. The demands of college students are high, and they’re coming from every direction: you have two professors expecting papers by the end of the week, your club meets every Wednesday, your RA is holding a mandatory event tonight, you have a group presentation tomorrow, Mom wants you to call her, and your best friend just broke up with her high school sweetheart and she needs you right now. Feeling stressed yet? Most college kids do.
So what are you going to do about it?
Well, you could simply throw your pens in the air and say, “Forget this! College is too hard!” and walk out. There are plenty of students who do. Or, you could learn how to balance all of these activities in a way that brings you success and happiness!
Your first lesson is a basic one: get yourself a planner (and use it)! Write down when your assignments are due and when you plan to do them. Schedule in your weekly meetings, even if it seems obvious that you’re busy at 7 p.m. every Monday. Note test days, birthdays, off-campus parties, visits home, group project meetings, campus events, when construction is going to be blocking your typical entrance to your campus, when you’ll need a new toothbrush, and everything else you need to remember. Color code it if you have to! Pour your life into this thing because your mind will not be able to handle it all.
Your second lesson, one that many people have a difficult time with, is being able to recognize when things are about to get crazy, and doing something about it. When you’re documenting everything in a planner, it will only take you a moment to realize there’s a dark and twisty Tuesday coming up where you have a twelve page paper due, two meetings scheduled for the same time, and coffee with your ex where you’ll discuss whether or not you’re getting back together. Yikes. Understand that this is a storm warning, and you’ll need to make preparations for it.
Your final lesson in performing a successful balancing act is being able to prevent spillage from one demand into another. Focus on the task at hand. If it’s homework time, don’t get on the phone for an hour. If your friend is visiting from another college, don’t spend that time polishing the final words of a paper. Think of your demands like paint: while a few mix nicely, too many mixed together makes an ugly greenish brown.
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