Hello all, Alex here again with something not music related for once!
When Jess was writing her “Bookworm’s Advice on College” post a few weeks ago, we were comparing notes on what each of us thought were the most important tips for students just starting college. Currently I’m teaching juniors and seniors in high school so I’ve had a bit of this advice on my mind lately. So, we decided that we should each do a post! So without further ado, here is the “Boyfriend’s Advice on College”:
1. Learn How to Time Manage
Seriously. Get ready for a totally different pace of school. College can have a breakneck pace at times, and even then it changes constantly. You may have two weeks of relative peace and regular assignments and then BAM. Two papers, three exams, and regular homework assignments all in the span of two weeks. Then back to normalcy for a week and then right back into the craziness. And I know AP classes may help prepare incoming freshmen a bit, but remember, now you have to fit a course of that rigor into half the time. Make sure you have a planner, life can get crazy without one. Staying one step ahead of deadlines is the surefire way to avoid stress in college.
2. Take Time for Self Reflection
College is a time to branch out and start new social circles and have new social experiences. I get that. But make sure to take time to pause and reflect as things change too. You’ll do more growing in your four years in college than you realize at the time. So definitely take the time to sort of meditate and appreciate how far you’ve come. You know what they say about the unexamined life.
So there’s this idea that psychologists and educators talk a lot about, called meta-cognitive processing. Essentially it means thinking about how you think and learn. As it turns out, you don’t need a grad school education to do this. In fact, most people do it all the time, they just don’t have a fancy word for it. In college, this is essential. Like a said before, it’s a whole new ball game. You’ve got to really think about what works for you. And honestly, this is what intro classes are for. I guarantee you’ll cover everything you talk about in your intro classes at least one more time as you progress through your major, so don’t stress so much about getting it all 100% perfect the first go round. Instead, take this time to focus on figuring out what learning strategies work for you. If you’re a note taker, take notes. If you’re a flash card studier, you go on and make your flash cards. Find your strategy, because this will really help you in the long run.
5. Be Comfortable With Someone Knowing More Than You
I know. You’re intelligent. You’re in college. You’re an intellectual. And you want to have intellectual conversations with colleagues and professors. And you should. But the least intellectual thing you could do is go into a lecture or a conversation thinking you already know everything. You’re paying thousands of dollars to be here so that you can take advantage of the knowledge of those who came before you. So do that. College is the best way to learn from and interact with experts in your field and, depending on what you do with your degree, the only time you’ll have that chance. So just listen.
6. Explore Your Environment
I’m assuming you picked your college for a number of reasons, like prestige, a particular program they offer, or their history. But no matter why you picked your college, you probably wouldn’t have picked it if it was located somewhere you’d never want to live. So go out and explore! Embrace the community! Become a part of wherever you are! There’s always some local flavor to be found, no matter where you are. Make it a part of your identity. Sure, you’re a student. But you’re a student at THIS school. In THIS town.
7. Take Advantage of What Your School Has to Offer
This can tie into the last point too. Most schools offer special things for students like free admission to museums in the community, free public transportation, and exclusive events. Honestly, you’re paying for it all anyway, so you might as well use it. Not to mention all the health services available. You pretty much already pay for it in your tuition, so don’t be afraid to use it. Often it’s not the BEST care you could be getting, but it sure is a lot better than walking around sick or in pain or stressed out because you don’t have the resources to go to the doctor. Seriously, universities have pretty decent health care and mental health facilities. At some point in four years you’re bound to need something, so USE THEM. In my time at college, I saw a ton of concerts and plays, got free newspapers every day, had free public transportation, used health and counselling service, got into museums for free, attended plenty of lectures from famous scientists, and loads more. Of course, none of it was actually “free”, but I was paying for it whether I used it or not and I didn’t pay in real-time so hey, might as well use it.
Or three. Or five. Seriously folks, can’t stress this enough. Jess mentioned in her post how living in the dorms at least once is a must. I’d like to expand on this and say live in a single dorm if you can. Nothing says freedom like actually having your own space. But if you’re going to do this, JOIN A CLUB. SERIOUSLY. Otherwise, you won’t get to know anyone on campus. My entire circle of friends in college came from my fencing club, and maybe one or two colleagues from my major. It’s the best way to start conversations and get to know people. It’s pretty hard to make friends in a lecture hall or worse, at frat parties. You need a predetermined activity or common interest to make connecting with people a bit easier. Not to mention it gives you a much needed sense of individual identity, especially if you go to a big school. A club provides a perfect sized social circle for you to be part of within a community of thousands of other people.
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