As I’ve finished my first year of college in the past month, I’ve decided that I’m going to make a list of the things I have learned in that time. I’ve learned a lot, and I’d like to share some of it with you.
1. Age/grade doesn’t really matter anymore
This is a wonderful fact. Get on it as soon as possible. Don’t take it as my okay to attempt to hook up with that cute guy over there, but as an opportunity to expand your horizons and friend group beyond your grade level. Trust me: college is a whole new playing field, and the petty groups of high school are (or at least, should be) no longer. You are no longer contained to your graduating class, so get excited to make new friends.
2. Class time matters.
If you go to a private school like mine, you pay about $400 a class. As in during those 90 minutes, 400 big ones are coming out. Go to class: it helps you get into a routine, learn the information firsthand for when you have things like tests, and just be a better person. College is a school, after all.
3. Procrastination is a choice
If you decide to put something off, you’ve decided to do that – just as much as if you’ve decided to do it right away. I suggest being on the ball and getting work done when it’s assigned. Yeah, that’s difficult, but you shouldn’t need to feel motivation each time. It’s about the commitment, a promise; not motivation, a fleeing feeling.
4. The freshman 15 challenge is real.
**Get a scale** (so you can track how much weight you don’t want to gain), and make an effort towards physical exercise. Tip: Teamwork makes the dreamwork. Work out with friends.
5. Amazon and slugbooks.com are God’s gifts to the college student
On Amazon, get all your cheap stuff like books for those literature classes. On Slug Books, find the best places to buy/rent your textbooks that you’ll need for the more advanced classes. By and large, though, you won’t want to rent from your school’s bookstore – it’s much cheaper to buy on Amazon or find on Slug Books.
6. Naps were meant to be taken
If you are tired, need a break, whatever… find a happy place. Take a nap, the short kind, and be re-energized – without caffeine!
7. You make your own choices now
Your parents aren’t around to tell you what to do anymore. Obviously. So, for better or for worse, you have to make these rules for yourself. Chose wisely, you’ll probably thank yourself for a good balance later. Just because you tell yourself that you’ll have a curfew of midnight doesn’t mean you’re not going to have any fun. Just because you work out twice a week doesn’t mean you’ll lose friends. (p.s., YOU’LL LOOK HOT.) You have to understand that you’re going to make your own choices, and whether they be good or bad ones, they are yours. Make them good.
8. Your college experience is determined by the choices you make
This is a biggie. (kind of like #7) The choices in friends, work ethic, time management – they all determine your college experience. Make good choices, and your time will be wonderful. Make not-so-good ones, and you can end up regretting some of those things that you thought were great at the moment.
9. An all-nighter does not equate to work being done all night
I don’t pull all nighters, but when I almost do, I do homework for about four of the six extra hours I’m up. Maybe. Be smart – don’t make those choices. And when you do have to pull an all-nighter or something similar, take out all distractions.
10. Finding a stress reliever – something or someone that will help you get the stress out – is important
Journal. Talk it out. Exercise. Find a friend. All of the above. Find something that will relieve stress – because you’re going to have a lot of it in many different forms, and it’s important that you find the right ways to process it.
11. High school friends fade out of the picture
Sorry to break it to you, but your high school friendships aren’t going to stay as strong as you probably have hoped. Your daily FaceTimes will turn to weekly ones, and those weekly ones are going to turn into text exchanges every now and then, which will turn into meeting up once in a while on breaks when you get the chance. You’ll still be friends, but things change significantly during college – your relationships will reflect that.
12. You can’t do everything, so don’t try to!
I think this is one of the biggest mistakes that freshmen make. College is new and exciting, for sure – but you have four years to do it all. So many people try to do everything: watch movies, stay up late, hang out with all these new friends, do well in school, get off campus – within the first few weeks that they have no time to themselves. It’s all gone. Well folks, I’m here to tell you that you do not, in fact, have to do everything. You also have four years. Your friends are in school as well – they should understand if you say no once in a while.
13. Breaks are important
When you working hard and/or stressed, take a break. You will get it done. But only when you’ve been working hard and/or are stressed. Studies show that intensive work with 10 minute breaks gets work done faster than long periods of work. Note: breaks from checking Facebook and Pinterest are a waste of time. A tip: Reward yourself after you have actually done work.
14. Nobody cares what you’re wearing at 8AM.
8AMs shouldn’t need much more than a 20 minute preparation time period. Well, maybe you have to shower. Then you might want to wake up a little earlier. The point is, at 8AM, the people there aren’t awake enough to hate on what you look like or what you’re wearing. Waking up at 6:30 is just not necessary. Take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to wake up the same time you had to for high school!
15. You will find your caffeine outlet by finals week.
I came to espresso during finals week of my first semester, when I had nothing else to turn to after I hit rock bottom, coffee brought me to where I am today. (Kidding. Jesus does that.) Whether it be coffee, diet Coke, really strong tea: a jolt is necessary for the average college student to take them to their next level.
16. Your faith will be tested
As your environment changes, so does the place in which your faith develops. Just because you might attend a Christian college doesn’t mean everyone is willing to drag themselves out of bed on a Sunday morning. Excuses are plentiful and easy to make. Sometimes, it might feel like you’re hanging on to Jesus by a thread. Maybe a lot of times. Again, I can’t say how important it is to surround yourself with the right people, because like it or not, your surroundings influence you, for better or worse.
17. Finally: time flies. Treasure each moment. I don’t think you will truly understand this until you’ve experienced it firsthand for a few months, but time just goes by so fast it’s unbelievable. I can hardly believe that it’s June of 2014, and I’m a sophomore (it actually says on the school website that allows you to creepily stalk people!)… Time does things to you, so make the most of it.