Two exams down, two to go. Supposing I make it through Friday, I will have made it through my first semester of college. Wow. It has been crazy to say the least, yet it has been good.I thought I was completely prepared for college, but turns out I was wrong! There are some things about college you cannot learn from a pamphlet, tour, college prep curriculum or orientation–you have to experience them for yourself.
In high school when I googled advice for college freshmen I came up with a plethora of articles with the same information stated over and over again go to class, go to office hours, get involved… and none were overly helpful. So, I decided to compile a list of unconventional college advice (or advice no one told me), based upon my experiences, to try and aid those trying to figure college out.
If class starts at 9.10 they will begin lecturing at 9.10; if you want time to unpack your backpack, get your pencils out, or even have a quick conversation before class starts–you better get there before class starts.
Pick at least one class each semester that excites you. Yes, maybe you shouldn’t major in art or philosophy, but if those classes excite you, you should take some of them. College can become mundane and burdensome, yet having classes that interest and excite you make it better. For instance, I am taking a yoga class and history of dance next semester, which I am excited about.
Check your college email frequently. Yes, your email will be full of spam from every single group on campus, but it does time to time convey important information about events occurring on campus that you would not know about otherwise.
Learn some basic real world skills. Know how to cook basic meals, how to clean your bathroom, and how to do laundry. Know that a semester is over at Christmas or summer break. Know military time and that R on a schedule means Thursday. Know that college and collage are different words. If you don’t know these before college, that’s ok! Just try and learn them now since we are supposed to be acting like adults.
Stop your addiction to social media. Social media will easily suck hours out of your day, and if you are like me, you don’t have much free time. I personally had to delete most of my social media apps to stop myself from wasting time on it, and surprisingly I didn’t miss it too much.
Update or reactivate your Facebook. Yes, most teenagers have moved passed Facebook and use other social media sites, but colleges have not. Many colleges use Facebook pages for incoming students to find roommates or connect with others on campus. Many groups/clubs on campus use Facebook as a means to update students on the group.
Call your professors Dr. unless they tell you otherwise. First off, teachers are called professors in college. Secondly, most of the professors in college have their Doctorate degree, and have made significant contributions to their field of study (research, writing…) honor them by calling the Doctor; some, of course, will say they don’t want to be called Doctor, so just call them Professor.
Pick a good seat on the first day of class. College does not have assigned seats, but most students are creatures of habit and will everyone sit in the same exact seat for the entirety of the class. So, pick a seat you don’t mind being in for the whole semester.
Get an on campus job. Working on campus decreases commute time (thus saving valuable time) and employers will work around your college schedule. Unless, of course, the only option is in the cafeteria–you don’t want to do that.
Learn how to study/concentrate when there is constant noise. Even the libraries on campus. yet alone the dorm rooms, are always loud, so if you’re looking for a quiet place to study good luck! You’re better off putting in headphones and learning how to concentrate with people all around.
Make a friend in each class. Whether or not you are close with this person doesn’t matter, just make sure you have someone in every class you can ask about homework, copy notes from, tell you what you missed, and study with you. This makes life much easier.
Make a budget. College students generally are broke, so any money they do have is precious. A budget allows money to be tracked, and thus, you can see where your money is going. Most people can easily blow $50 on coffee and candy biweekly, which I know coffee is essential to students existence-but cheaper ways exist.
Go to the tutoring center! Tutoring isn’t only for the “dumb” students in college– it is for the smart ones too. College academics are challenging and you may feel like you’re drowning, but going to a tutor will help you keep your head above water.
Go to the fairs and events on campus. Almost daily there are fairs and events on campus offering free fun and food (or possibly massages:)
Never buy your books from the bookstore. You can always find them cheaper elsewhere.
Do not let work interfere with school. Yes, I know college is expensive and you need a job to make ends meet, but the sole purpose of spending all that tuition money is to go to classes and learn skills for your future profession. If work interferes with you being able to study and succeed in school, you need to drop it or take less classes.
Know that you will be lonely. Despite how much effort you take put into making friends, you will be lonely from time to time. You will want to hangout and do something fun with someone and realize you have no one to hangout with. I’m still dealing with this–but overtime it gets better. Quality friendships take time to develop.
Realize that nobody’s life is perfect. Everyone’s life is as dysfunctional and crazy as yours; even the seniors don’t have their future life all figured out; people are just good at faking it.
I could write about tons more, but if I didn’t stop here this blog post would turn into a small novel.
Sometimes you feel like yeah! I got this college life down! only to realize you are looking at the wrong mariokart screen and are actually in last place. Or when a runner trips over every hurdle but manages to finish the race. Or freshmen year is like when the mama bird pushes the baby bird out of the nest hoping the baby bird will figure out how to fly before it crashes.
Freshmen year is both terrible and wonderful; happy and sad. But you gotta embrace this crazy messy beautiful life.