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What Is College Like?
Ah yes, college. The word we hear growing up mixed into sentences such as "You are going to college!", "You need to be thinking about college!", "That grade isn't going to get you into a good college!", and many others. Before I started college, I had always heard it was hard, but never did I think that it would be so challenging. You don't have to take as many classes as you did in high school (unless you have a really hard major and want to graduate in the four years), yet it is so much more difficult. I thought homework in high school was bad. At least we got reviews, extra credit opportunities, relatively small classes for more teacher-student time, and other helpful things to get through the years. In college, you MIGHT get a review, you MIGHT get a small class, you MIGHT get extra credit, and the teacher MIGHT know your name. But even through all of this, I actually like college. I like the challenge, I like the freedom, I like the opportunities to be a part of something bigger, and I like the chance to (even though this is not recommended) skip class if I need/want to.
A Typical College Day For Me
For me, college is about bad sleeping habits, coffee, studying, stress, and actually learning something. I'm sure those of you in college who read this will attest to this. It is not all that bad, though. You get used to it. This is the period in your life when you learn how to thrive off of four hours of sleep or less, when you realize that coffee is a miracle, when you learn how you need to study to learn stuff quickly, how to manage your stress, and how awesome a B or C actually is. This is stuff I have learned in my one year of college. Imagine what I am going to learn next semester!
Okay, so as the title of this section says, I will tell you what a typical college day is for me.
1. Wake up and get ready. This basically means throwing on a t-shirt, comfy shorts, eating something, pulling up my hair, putting on flip-flops, and heading out the door.
2. Drive to school with the music on full blast. I live about 40 minutes away from my college, so driving is time for me to enjoy my music!
3. Find a parking spot. This is the most awful part of the day for me. I feel like a stalker watching for people to get in their cars so that I can have their close parking spot.
4. Go to class. This is where your note-taking skills come in handy. Sometimes the professor has slide shows, sometimes they write the notes, and sometimes they just talk. Whatever the case, get the important stuff. If they ever repeat anything twice, MAKE SURE YOU WRITE IT DOWN. Also, try not to fall asleep. If you have an 8am class, it may be hard not to doze off, but it is your own fault for choosing that time.
5. Go to another class. And another. And probably another.
6. Lunch time! This is your time to eat, relax, hang with friends, or study frantically because you have a test in your next class.
7. Another class... but luckily this is usually my last class. You can choose your schedule to be however you want it to be, but usually if I have a class after lunch, I am sleepy and just want to go home. Having two classes after lunch for me personally would not be a good idea.
8. Drive home with the music blasting! I get another 40 minutes to myself, so why not have the music loud?
9. Have a snack and start studying. Sometimes I study for the rest of the day, and sometimes I don't have too much to study for so I can enjoy the rest of the day before starting all over again the next day. Yay!
I Don't Mean To Scare You
Please do not let any of this scare you! If you are new to the college community, it is not all that bad. Yes, you are going to be stressed. Yes, you will lose sleep. Yes, you may not get the grades you want, but when you DO get the grades you want, it is the most wonderful feeling in the world! Knowing how much sleep you lost and how stressed you were and how much time you spent with your nose in the books, and getting an A or a B, trust me it is worth it! If you put in the effort, you will get the grade you want. You may lose time with your friends or boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/everyone in the world, but hey! it is all about that 4.0 GPA! It gets you into grad school if that is where you want to go, or to your career job that you have been working toward. Then you can spend time with everyone!
(Don't worry, there is time to spend with people. You have weekends, you have the time in between your classes, and time before and after classes. I was just trying to make a point that if you want good grades, you are going to have to give up part of your social life.)
The Best Things About College
Now that you have freaked out a little, it is time for the best parts of college. My personal favorite is the freedom. Whether you live at home or on campus, you are going to have freedom. Freedom to choose when you want your classes, freedom to do your homework or not, freedom to study or not, freedom to go to class or not, freedom to get involved with on-campus groups like sororities and fraternities and clubs, and freedom to just walk around campus if that is what you want to do.
Another good thing about college is that you may finally be leaving home and getting to live on your own or with a roommate. This means you have control of what you eat, when you eat, if you bathe, when you bathe, how late you stay out, where you go, and many other things. I have heard from many friends that the worst part about leaving home is that you miss your family and cannot go see them whenever you want. You may not have the time to go and see them and may have to wait a few months, or even until the end of the semester if you are going to a school out of state. But, you are on your own finally! Isn't this what most teenagers dream of? Being independent and controlling your own life is part of growing up and you can do this through college. It is a wonderful feeling.
Partying. Partying, partying, partying. PARTYING! Now you're thinking, "Yes, finally! The good stuff!" Sorry, alas I am not talking about alcohol. I am talking about study parties. Getting together with friends or classmates and studying can actually be a fun experience (unless, with my experience, you are studying for calculus). If you do not like studying alone, then a study party is a great way to study. Whether it is with only one other person, or five other people, there is much to benefit out of these parties. One, you get to be with your friends! Two, there is almost always food and drinks, and who doesn't like eating or drinking? Three, you are actually going to learn something. Sometimes, someone can explain something in a way that a teacher can't, and you actually understand! This has happened to me many times. And finally, it can be fun. Don't think of these as you all just sitting at a table with books open reading silently to yourself. That is not the way to do these. Get a whiteboard, colorful markers, snacks, drinks, books of course, and go over what you need to go over. One technique that helped me learn was teaching the material to my study partners. Getting up to the whiteboard and trying to explain the material by writing down definitions, drawing pictures, charts, tables, anything, helped not only me to learn, but also the people I was studying with. And don't forget that after an hour, your brain cannot usually take anymore. It needs time to process what it has learned. So for about 5 or 10 minutes, just talk to your friends. Catch up and see what is going on in their lives, and then get back to studying. I promise you, it is a way to keep your social life going while making A's.
Finally, the last best thing about college is making new friends. Throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school, you connected with people and became friends with them, but in college, you meet people who want to do the same thing with their lives as you do. Almost anyone who has the same major as you do will have something in common with you. Always take an opportunity to talk to these people, they may become life-long friends, or amazing study partners. And you might even learn something you didn't know before that relates to your major. These people will always be around campus, they will be there for you when you struggle with hard major-related material and tests or even non-major related material and tests. Everyone in college is there for the same reason; to graduate and do something with their lives. These people will support you throughout your college career, so don't be afraid to talk to people!
Words of Wisdom
Hopefully by now you feel at least a little prepared for the college world. So I will now leave you with some words of wisdom and a hilarious picture that I think sums up some college tests that you will just have to get through.
1. Do not party too hard. You are in college to get an education. I'm not saying don't have fun with friends, just have fun responsibly. You will regret it later when your GPA slips and you aren't getting scholarship money anymore.
2. Don't freak yourself out. Yes, college is hard, but it is supposed to be. If you freak out, you will likely mess up on a test or quiz, and no one can afford to do that. So take deep breaths, study hard, and be confident.
3. Try not to pull all-nighters. Leave yourself with enough time to study so that you do not have to stay up all night drinking coffee and cramming every tidbit of information you can into your brain. This information will most likely not stay with you for the rest of the semester and you will kick yourself later when you have cumulative tests.
4. This is probably the most important and I need to follow this more myself; don't procrastinate. College comes with a lot of work. You will only stress yourself out if you save everything you need to learn for the couple days before the tests. Learn throughout the semester. Whatever you learn in class, go home and review it to make sure you understand. This will not only help you calm your stress during test weeks, but you will also not need to study as much for the tests because you will already know the material.
I hope this helps! Have fun in college!