College; some may call it the best 4 years of their life, some may call it the worst, but most of us would say it’s both.
When entering into your freshman year, there are so many expectations. You feel like you have no idea what you’re doing and, to be quite honest, you probably don’t. Luckily there are tons of resources to make sure you’re prepared!
Being a recent college graduate I have created a post with tips based off of what helped me as a college student, and things I wish I would have known/done sooner.
So whether you are just starting out or 3 years in, this post is for you!
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1. Make friends
Friends are essential in college. This may seem obvious and self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised the amount of people who go their whole college career without making any valuable friendships.
In fact, I didn’t actually make any friends until my senior year, and my only regret is not having met them sooner.
The idea of just going to class and going home may sound tempting, but there’s something about being surrounded by like-minded people and building a sense of community that makes you feel less alone and more fulfilled.
So if I have any advice, it would be to not be like me.
Most people will agree when I say that your college friends are some of the best friends you will ever make, and you’ll find that making friends in college is a lot easier than making friends in high school.
There’s less pressure to be someone your not, so the connections you make are authentic.
2. Plan + Prioritize
I know you’ve probably heard it all before, but believe me when I say that time management is everything in college! This is about the time you start to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day for the things you need to get done, so make sure to get a planner and a calendar (Amazon affiliate links) to make sure that you aren’t missing deadlines.
In addition, research indicates that planning your time wisely is linked to experiencing less stress– and believe me, college can be extremely stressful, so you need all of the breaks you can get.
When you manage your time wisely, such as studying in advance, getting a head start on assignments, and reviewing your notes often, you’ll find that you have more time to socialize and do the things you enjoy. Don’t get caught up in the hype of things– yes college can be fun, and you should be able to enjoy yourself and go to parties etc.
And sure, there will probably be moments of irresponsibility, but remember that you are there with a goal, and neglecting your priorities can set you back. Work now, play later.
3. Don’t neglect your self-care
College students are known for their all-nighters, unhealthy eating habits, and tendency to neglect their self-care for the sake of time and grades.
I get it, we don’t typically care about our health at 18, or even 22, but believe me when I say that taking care of yourself is so important.
Take power naps, study breaks, homework breaks on the weekend, do face masks, get your nails done, hang out with friends and don’t feel bad about it.
I pretty much refused to do homework on the weekends for my entire undergraduate career unless it was absolutely necessary (or finals), and here I am. Overworking yourself can lead to college burnout, and resting refuels your brain to work harder and better when you return.
But it doesn’t just end there– make sure to take care of your body too.
It’s so easy to resort to fast food and unhealthy snacks, and while you may be able to get away with that in the beginning, it will eventually catch up to you (the freshman 15 is real, y’all).
Search for healthier alternatives + try cooking meals at home/at your dorm. Also try working out at school or joining a gym. Eating healthier and exercising is linked to things like improved mental health and mood, sleep and weight control, and is beneficial to your overall wellness.
Thank me later.
4. Go to office hours
Being the only child I was, going to office hours was practically unheard of for me because I thought I needed to figure out everything on my own– and I did, however, I didn’t have too.
Not only do you get a better understanding of material when you go to office hours, but you get to know your professors better too.
You may be thinking, why do I need to get to know my professors? Because professional relationships with professors can be extremely beneficial in the long run when you need a recommendation for a phD program, or say, a JOB.
In addition, the more your professors know you and like you, the more they do not associate you with just a name, and can better empathize with you when you come to them with issues or concerns that may affect your academic performance.
If your school is anything like mine, you will probably take a class with a professor more than once, so it helps if they like you, and vice versa.
In conclusion, don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to do a little bit of ass kissing– both will help you in the long run.
5. Use your absences wisely
Ahh absences, if your professor is not a total jerk and actually allows you to have some, these will definitely come in handy on days when you’ve overslept, need to study for another class, or just plain do not feel like going.
Just be careful not to use them all at once– you never know what unexpected things may pop up (sickness, death in the family…) and too many absences typically result in failure of the course (and most professors are not lenient about this).
Story time! Toward the end of my final semester of undergrad (ahem, last semester) I had run out of absences and somehow forgot to set my alarm, oversleeping 30 minutes past the time I typically leave the house.
Mind you, failing this class would have resulted in me NOT graduating (which would not have gone over well considering I had family from all over the country flying in).
Putting on whatever I could find and running out the door, I arrived to class 30 freaking minutes late.
Thankfully my professor knew me well enough to know I was a good student (see, that professor relationship) and let it slide, (but imagine if she DIDN’T?).
And, while this is the only time I ever screwed up on my absences (two weeks before my undergraduate career ended :)), for the most of school, I maintained good attendance by spacing out my absences, most of the time saving my last absences for the final weeks of class which is when you’ll need the most breaks when you can get them.
College seems scary at first, but as long as you establish guidelines for productiveness and success, you’ll be okay. Congratulations on your achievement, getting into college is hard, and whether you are going to a Uni or a CC, pat yourself on the back; you’ve already made it this far. Use the same drive that got you through high school, to get yourself through college, and to get that degree– and don’t forget to have fun and make memories while doing it!
You got this.