Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Twenty Things No One Will Tell You As A College Freshmen

Midterms are fast approaching for most college students and at this point in the semester I find myself reflecting on just how much my life has changed even from just a year ago. 

Last year as college freshmen I liked to think I knew what I was doing, but in reality I didn't have a darn clue what I was doing. Luckily I had experienced a small dose of
My dad took this picture move in day of my freshmen
year at college. I don't miss lofted beds at all.
college life whenever I visited my older brother at college, but by the time I entered college he had graduated and moved cross country for a job. I was scared. I didn't know what to expect but I knew I had to achieve academic success because my brother had achieved academic honors in college. With what seemed like a monumental task before me I entered my first year of college and as the year rounded to a close I learned a tremendous amount about myself and what college is really about. By no means do I think I'm an expert on college because I am still learning like everyone else, but I do hope to impart some of the lessons I've learned and the wisdom I've gained in my short time in college onto you. Here are twenty lessons I learned my first year in college that I hope you will find useful, because until now they are things no one will tell you.

1. Grades do matter
College is a different ball game than high school. Don't go into your freshmen year with the mindset that you can screw around like you did in high school. College is a privilege  that not many can afford, so do your best and remember you are paying to be there.
I've had just as much fun with my friends in college without
partying and alcohol as those who drank. But I don't
wake up feeling sick or struggling to recall what happened.

2. You don't have to party and drink to be cool
Don't think chugging a beer will automatically make you look cool, it won't and most likely you'll end up looking like an idiot. There are plenty of fun things to do with friends both on and off campus that don't involve drinking or partying. I've never been to a college party or drank during my time at college and I don't feel like I've missed anything. Plus I don't have to wake up in the morning with a ragging headache and spend my morning over a toilet puking my guts out because I drank too much, what is possibly fun about that?!

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help
Professors are paid to teach and many professors are passionate about what they teach. Approaching a professor might seem scary at first, but I promise they won't bite your head off. If you're too shy to ask a question in front of the class ask the professor before or after class or during office hours. Office hours are for the students benefit, not the professors. All the professors I've had love having students come in during office hours because they don't have to spend an hour or two doing emails. Approaching your professor during office hours also demonstrates that you care about learning the material, so don't be afraid to ask questions and remember you're probably not the only one with that question!!

4. You get out what you put in
Procrastinating until the last minute about doing a paper is not a good idea. Chances are your paper is not going to be nearly as good as if you had started it right after it got assigned. Doing a rush job just to get it done might get you a passing grade but if you had put in more time and effort you definitely could have gotten a better grade. 

5. Going in blind with a roommate can be really good or really bad
Going in blind to a roommate situation can end up being really good or really bad, but do not automatically assume that your roommate will become your best friend. The short survey that you had to fill out to get "matched" really means nothing and sometimes you may just not click with your roommate. My freshmen year roommate and I could not have been more different and we just didn't click. We learned to live with each other though. Remember that it's important to be reasonable in dorm situations. Don't make one person do all the cleaning, share the responsibility because you both have to live there for a year so why it make miserable?
I've had many days and nights that look like this.

While all nighters might seem like a good idea, they're not. You are not going to retain any information when you are exhausted and trying to cram for an exam at 3 am. Go to bed early, get seven or eight hours sleep, and wake up refreshed and then study. You will retain more information when you feel rested than when you're totally exhausted and struggling to learn the concepts.

7. Don't wait until the last minute to study for an exam
Waiting until the last possible minute to study for an exam is just a bad idea in general. Don't be that person. Study a little bit of the material at a time as you learn it in class. This will save you time overall because you don't have to learn 75 vocabulary words at once and try to retain formulas and various concepts at the same time. Plus when an exam does roll around you will only have to brush up on your notes.

8. Best friends can be the worst roommates
Sure spending every day together might seem like fun, but it can take a sharp turn south VERY QUICKLY! I've learned this from personal experience, and frankly in the end you won't only be losing a roommate you could end up losing a good friend. Choose your roommates very wisely.

9. Eat Right
Even though you might be away from home for the first
time eat your vegetables!!
Good food is good fuel for your body and your mind. Eating the cafeteria pizza, grilled cheese, and ice cream every day will seem great for awhile until you can't zip your pants any more. Be conscious of what you're eating. Eat your fruits and vegetables and get the nutrients your body needs to grow and learn. Treating yourself once in a while is not a bad thing but eating pizza and ice cream every day will catch up with you.

10. Utilize the gym
I've yet to visit a college where students don't have access to some sort of workout facility free of charge. Most of these facilities are top of the line too. Use the gym for free while you can and see if there are different exercise classes or pickup leagues that you can join for free. College is the perfect time to get in shape but you have to make the effort.
When I couldn't be there for my mom's birthday last
year my family skyped me in so I could still be a part
of it.

11. Stay in touch
It is really easy to get caught up in all the homework and with your friends but remember to stay in touch with your friends from high school and your family. And for crying out loud CALL YOUR MOM!! At some point you will need someone to talk to about a bad day, or roommates problems, and your mom will be thrilled to listen to you. Your parents do want to stay informed about your life so don't cut them off-especially if they are paying for your college. A twenty minute phone call won't be the end of the world, and it's nice to let people know you still care about them.

12. College bookstores will rip you off
The university bookstore will sometimes charge double if not triple the cost of a textbook that you can buy elsewhere for significantly cheaper. Amazon, chegg, and various other sites will become your go to for textbooks. 

13. Sell your textbooks back at the end of the semester
This creepy clown was in my anthropology
textbook. I had the class as a gen ed requirement
and needless to say I sold the book to amazon,
creepy clown and all.
That art history class you had to take for a gen ed and waste $100 on a textbook for, if you sell it back you can almost always make at least 1/2 of your money back. I always sell my textbooks back to amazon and then I get an amazon gift card, of which I turn around and use to buy my next semesters textbooks. Again be cautious of selling your textbooks back to the university bookstore. Often times they won't give you 1/4 of what you paid for the book.

14. Always back up your work
Computer problems are a fact of life and will inevitably arise when you're almost done with that 40 page term paper you just spent three weeks working on. Always save your work, and hit save often, and save it to multiple sources. Flash drives can be purchased for almost nothing, but they are worth their weight in gold if they save your term paper when your computer crashes.

15. Stop trying to fit in and stop comparing yourself to others
Don't get a tattoo or a piercing because "everyone else has one." Who cares what everyone else thinks?! Wear clothes that you like, style your hair how you like it, stop trying to please everyone else and learn what makes you happy and if ends up being parachute pants then so be it.

Stop trying to measure yourself according to someone else's standards. I was so worried about trying to be successful and get as good of a GPA as my brother that I lost myself in the process. Once I stopped trying to measure up to his standards and measured myself according to my standards school became more enjoyable. I found my own academic success and way more valuable to me because I wasn't striving to meet someones else's expectations. 

16. Don't sleep around
Romance may abound on college campuses but don't make hasty decisions that you will end up regretting, and for the love of pete be courteous of your roommate. No one wants to hear anything, or wake up to find a stranger on their couch because their roommate decided to have a "slumber party." Also, if you chose to engage in such activities be smart about it.

17. Be prepared for anything and everything
Torrential downpours happen sometimes without warning so be prepared. Always carry an umbrella with you because you'll never know when you need it. Also carry a pack of Kleenex and a few band aids you never know when they will be needed and when you do need them you don't have to try to find them because you are prepared.
You're going to want to be warm and dry
if you have to walk through this
to get to class.

18. Buy a warm coat and good boots
If you have to deal with snow a warm coat and good boots are crucial. While UGG boots may look cute, they are not practical for walking through two feet of snow. They are suede and will be soaking wet by the time you get to where you need to go. Other boots may not be as fashionable but all that matters is you stay warm and dry. A warm coat is also important. A north face jacket is just over priced. You can find a really nice, warm coat for under $100. If you end up looking like a penguin who cares, you will be warm.

19. Stress less
Go to a hockey game with friends, go to a
movie, go to the mall. do anything
that you enjoy that will allow you
to relax and forget about school for a while.
Worrying about an exam won't do you any good. Study hard and give it all you've got. Why waste precious time worrying about things you cannot control? When I feel overwhelmed I like to remind myself of my favorite quote: Let go and let God.

20. Remember to have fun
You only get to be young once and you should make the most of it. College is stressful but if you spend every night buried in textbooks you will burn out- take it from someone who has been there and done that. Remember to spend time with friends and family. Go do something fun to take your mind off school for awhile.

No comments:

Post a Comment