I spent the first year of my college career asking my sister advice on everything. I would borrow her books, and take any wise words she would throw in my direction. It took me awhile to realize that a lot of the college experience is learned along the way.
BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE.
I’m not a genius, and all of these things might sound like common sense, but trust me, there are many students out there who haven’t considered these five things:
This might sound like something easy, until you have to do it to every area of your life. What is more important, work or school? It depends. What classes matter to you? Are they part of your degree? Make sure you are working more on your major than on Gen Ed’s or classes for your minor.
Are you ready for this??? Not every class deserves “A” effort. If you are a student working two jobs and taking a full class load and doing who knows what else, not every class is going to get worked on the same. You have to factor your life and class load together. And don’t forget about social life!
My advice would be to get a planner. My sophomore year, I decided to write all of my assignments in a calendar on my computer and print them out at the start of every semester. Not only did I know all of my assignments for all my classes, but also I got to see them side-by-side. I was able to see when a busy week was coming up, and I would work on assignments early, and prioritize what assignments were more important than others.
2) Get Help:
This isn’t like a “college is going to drive you insane” word of advice, but most students who do not do well in school don’t seek help for any of their assignments.
Do you know your professor’s office hours? Have you ever e-mailed them regarding an assignment (just kidding, no one responds to e-mails)? Have you gone to the tutors in your library or learning center? Do you know someone in your class you can study with?
Most college students also don’t know that there are counselors available FOR FREE to all students who are enrolled at the school. I used to think that counselors were only for people who couldn’t handle their own problems. I started seeing our counselors at my school my junior year. It really helped me just to process my schedule, and they helped me to deal with the stress that comes with class loads of assignments.
3) Say “Yes” To Things:
College is the perfect time to start trying new things. There is a brand new slate. Whatever defined you in high school no longer defines you now. You have to opportunity to be whoever you want… except Batman (I had to).
Join a club or a group of something that intrigues you. Chess isn’t just for geeks anymore. Anyone can be a “Fat Amy.” Philosophy can be fun!
Don’t be afraid to meet new people. When I got to college, the only people I knew were my sister and her friends. Most people who came with me knew less people than that. If you’re a freshman, almost any other freshman will be your bestie. Freshmen are just weird like that.
4) Say “No” To Things:
You can be great at prioritizing, but even that won’t help you if you have too much on your plate. Trust me, I’m an expert. This was me my second semester of junior year:
Student Government VP
Philosophy Club President
Full-Time Student (17 credit hours, one a foreign language)
Worked 20 hours/week
Played worship weekly at church
Worked out five times a week
The mental breakdown happened a short time after midterms. No matter how good I was at prioritizing, I couldn’t keep up with everything. It was just too much! I would go nonstop from 5 a.m. until I went to bed between 10:30-11:00 p.m. I even had a romantic interest for part of this time! It’s no wonder things didn’t work out! Eventually I quit my job, lost a girlfriend, and things balanced out.
5) Enjoy the Now!
Oftentimes, college students see the time they’re in as a transitional period between adolescence and adulthood. And while college is a time where many students learn the skills they’ll need to have a successful career, college is a vital part of one’s life.
Remember to take time to enjoy the stage of life you’re in. College is the best time to figure out what to do with your life. You can change your career path with little effort. Though you are an adult, the world doesn’t judge you for living at home or having your mom do your laundry. Take advantage of it. Go out and have a social life!
This isn’t a “Bobby says I can go out and drink and go HAM!” kind of statement, but you are at a stage where certain mistakes won’t completely destroy your life. You can transfer schools and not have to worry about dragging a family with you. You can change your major and not have to worry about how it will affect your family, because you don’t have one yet.
Don’t just go to school while you’re at college. Make it a time where you can learn and adventure. Make it a priority to have fun!