As cliche as it sounds, it seemed like just yesterday when I was moving my belongings into my dorm at the University of Akron and waving goodbye to my parents. Now, in a few short weeks, I will be graduating with my Bachelor of Arts in Social Work degree and heading out of state for law school in August. While I never expected a pandemic to interrupt my education or even to be heading off to law school, and I may not have had the college experience I grew up watching on the big screen, I have truly learned and grew so much over the past four years. Here are the top eight pieces of advice that have helped carry me through undergrad and wish I had heard sooner.
- Have a charger (or two) always
This is a very practical piece of advice. You may leave your house and think that your fully charged laptop, phone, earbuds, et cetera will be fine for the day, but I promise that they will die at the most inconvenient times. Whether your earbuds go silent while on the treadmill or the low battery warning lights up on your laptop in the middle of class, having a charger on you will always be great in an emergency and give you peace of mind. Having an extra charger for someone to borrow in class is also a good way to get to know someone.
- Try to repeat professors
In college, you will have the opportunity to schedule your own classes. This means picking what time you want the class or even if you want to take that class at all. If you really liked a professor, you felt that your learning style matched their teaching style, and you did well, strongly consider taking another class with that professor. Not only will this take the guesswork out of of the scheduling process and give you a leg up in the semester, when it comes to letters of recommendation, having a professor who has known you for several semesters can be better than a professor who you had for one class two years ago.
One word, five letters. In college, you’re on your own, often for the first time. There’s no one to enforce a bedtime or make you go to class. And, you’re surrounded by tons of other people your age having the exact same experience. So, if you want to stay up until 4am partying or binging Netflix and then wake up at 8am for class, there’s no one to stop you. However, I strongly, strongly urge you to remember the value of sleep. In the midst of all these exciting new experiences, sleeping can be ignored in favor of getting studying done or going out or meeting new people. But sleep is crucial for your health and for studying. A lack of sleep will catch up to you, whether you like it or not.
- Do not procrastinate
t’s so easy to fall behind on school work in college. From all the new experiences and the increased difficulty of classes, it’s more important than ever to keep track of your school work in whatever way works best for you and not procrastinate. Planner, apps on your phone, to-do lists, automatic reminders, and more are available to keep you focused and on track.
- Find your study spot
A big way to avoid procrastination is to find a place on campus where you can study and work on homework. Scheduling in time to work on assignments can take some of the pressure off and allow you to enjoy your Tuesday afternoon, knowing that Wednesday morning is set aside to work on that big project, instead of procrastinating all day Tuesday and feeling unproductive. For myself, I found a favorite room in the library, and I find myself there most Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Finding an outlet
College is stressful. Despite what the media shows, it is not one big party. School work, relationship drama, and life pressures can be incredibly stressful are common during college. Finding an outlet for these pressures can be super helpful. I find that working out a few days a week, after work, helps me focus and relax.
- Make friends in your classes
Depending on the size of your major, you might be spending a lot of time with the same people over the next four years. While you don’t have to find your new bestie or meet your soulmate, befriending the people you see every day can go a long way to making class more enjoyable and can be helpful if you miss a day and need the notes or when picking partners for group projects.
- It will all work out
I stress. I panic. I worry. I have done this since I was little and I foresee that I will do it for some time to come. While this is definitely advice that I am still working on taking, being able to look back on my last four years has shown me that all my worrying was for naught. It didn’t prevent a pandemic or get me my internship or help me pass my test. That paper that kept me up all night? I can’t even remember what class it was for. The relationship drama that had my stomach in knots for days? It worked out. This is not to say that these are not important or that you shouldn’t care, but just as a final reminder, this too shall pass. Enjoy it. You only get four years.