At the age 16, I chose to go to college. (You can read about that decision here.) This past semester I’ve learned a lot about surviving college, from late nights to early mornings to the stress of writing a 15-page paper. There are so many things that have to happen to be successful in your classes. With the semester beginning again, it is time to put these ‘hacks’ to use. Here are some things that I’ve learned from the past semester:
1. Working Ahead is a Must
In college, you have to work ahead to be on schedule. There are many projects, papers, and notes that all seem to be due at the same time. I have found that staying “a day ahead of the game” has allowed for wiggle room for other things to happen in life. If an emergency were to happen, would you be able to take most the day off from school? My philosophy is that yes; if an emergency were to happen, you should be covered on the academic side. Working a day ahead also lent me a small amount of peace knowing I would be on time for the deadlines, no matter what happened in life.
This semester I worked, volunteered, and played ice hockey, making time a precious commodity. To allow for all my activities, working on homework a day (sometimes even days, plural) ahead of time would allow for these activities. Even if you don’t have many activities on your plate, working ahead can allow for some you time.
2. Plan for “Me Time”
This tip kinda ties into the last one, where you have to work ahead to allow that “wiggle room”. When I felt that the sky was falling, it meant that I was overdue for some relaxation time. Realistically, it is hard to plan that into each day, but it is important to keep it as a daily goal. Personally, it is important to have “me time”; it keeps me positive and happy so I can enjoy the things that I to work on. Whether your “me time” is just general downtime, bingeing TV, taking a bath, writing, drawing, meeting with people, it is important to have it.
3. Find and Use the Resources Around You
You can’t be successful all alone. Many colleges have resources on campus that should be taken advantage of. At my school, there were so many resources like the following: Chemistry tutor room, a meditation room, a general tutoring center, and online tutoring through a third party. Of course, the easiest, most known resource would be to use your professor’s available office hours.
The resources are there to help you be successful, I wouldn’t be ashamed to use them. If you are nervous to take advantage of them, take a friend along with you.
4. Connect with People
Whether it’s connecting with classmates or reconnecting with other friends, it is important to connect with them. We are human, we need human connection to stay sane. (There’s like actual studies of people going insane without human contact. Read about it here, it’s fascinating.) Just focusing on your classes can indirectly make you distant yourself from friends, which in turn can heighten anxiety and depression. This semester I found that begin to happen to me, so I made more of an effort to connect with my friends. I find importance in my relationships with people.
5. Study Buddies are Helpful
Study buddies create accountability and can be super helpful for aiding in the understanding of something. A study buddy can also help in that time of emergency as well. If something comes up and that assignment is due later that day, a study buddy can help you get it done. My friend, let’s call her Jen, and I had the same Chemistry class. We would always do our labs together to ensure we did it right (and of course, understood it). When it came down to some homework assignments, we would work together once in a while on the problems. I went through a breakup in this time period, so on the bad nights, I knew I had someone to help me through the classwork. With a study buddy’s help and support, I not only got through a breakup but I got an A in the class.
These are just some of the non-academic things I learned from my first semester of college. I hope that these tips on surviving college can help you out because, to be honest, once I figured these tips out, I thrived.
Have a productive day and good luck to you,
You may also like: Why I’m Going to College at 16