The A-Z of College Survival

Wondering how to survive another year of college? Here is a list to keep in mind as you dive into this new school year!  

A: Accountability - We’re all adults now and there is no one else to blame for our actions except ourselves. It can be overwhelming at first to be living on your own and having to make independent decisions, but it is also exciting! You have the freedom to control your life and discover what you are truly passionate about. 

B: Brain Food - Eating is important, but it can be easy to start skipping meals when our workload becomes overwhelming. Try to not make that a habit. Calories power the brain (literally!) and fuel our productivity. And of course, food is always a good study break. 

C: Communication - This trait is a key aspect of college. Whether it is with your professors, your roommates, your friends, your family or your coworkers, it is vital that you communicate your thoughts and concerns to maintain healthy relationships.  

D: Diversity - College brings together diverse people, and with it, diverse opinions. The beauty behind this is that unity is achieved via diversity. You can make friends from all over the world and expand your cultural awareness by simply being on campus.

E: Exercise - Finding someone to go to the gym with you is a great way to motivate you to work out a couple of times a week. Not a gym person? There are a million other ways to stay in shape! Going on walks, partaking in interhall sports or opting for the stairs rather than the elevator (of course, not if you are going to the 10th floor of a building) are great ways to stay healthy. 

F: Financials - With being independent also comes financial responsibilities. It is important to stay mindful of all of the money you are spending to ensure you are staying on budget. Impulse buying is tempting, but make sure you are staying responsible. 

G: Google - Look up everything. There is never anything too embarrassing to look up. Whether it is a vocab word, a theory, a historical event or an equation you are unfamiliar with, google it! If you are confused about something, the chances that someone else is too are high. Do not be the oblivious student in class—we have access to amazing technology, so use it! 

H: Humor - Turning embarrassing events into hilarious memories is a vital skill in college. You will embarrass yourself A LOT here, but there is nothing wrong with that! Laugh it off and make a funny story out of it. Humor can get you through anything. 

I: Imagination - It is easy to think that everything about the world has already been discovered by the time you get to college, and being surrounded by scholars and renowned professors is intimidating. But there is always room for imagination! Think outside the box. If there is a topic or issue that you are interested in, investigate it and let your imagination guide you. This is what drives innovation. 

J: Journey - The goal of college should not be to get a job (although that is what we are all eventually going to end up doing). Rather, college is a journey in which you discern possible areas of interest and find the ones that you are most passionate about. Treat college as a journey—it will make job searching a lot less stressful!

K: Knowledge - College is not about being the smartest student in class. It is about following your academic passions and gaining the knowledge that will benefit you in life. Knowledge is diverse, endless and comes in various forms. You cannot ever aspire to learn everything, but you can aspire to grow in your field of passion by gaining the right knowledge. 

L: Library - This place will become your second home, whether you like it or not. It will force you to be productive when your workload is overwhelming. It is also home to amazing resources, so use them!      

M: Management - This is particularly important when it comes to your time. It is easy to leave assignments until the last minute or forget to get something done on time. Set deadlines and stick to them. Discipline yourself to organize your workload in a way that fits your schedule and your lifestyle.

N: Neatness - Your roommate will love you a lot more if you keep this trait in mind. Staying neat will also help you stay organized with your work and enhance your work ethic. 

O: Offering your input - Everyone’s perspective matters. Do not be shy to speak up and share an idea or thought that you have in class. Others will learn a lot from your input. 

P: Presentations - You may have been able to avoid these in high school, but presentations are an integral part of college life (and most likely your future professional life). Your research and findings only become important if you share them with others. Learning how to present your ideas effectively and clearly is an indispensable skill. Do not overlook it.   

Q: Quality - This is key to any assignment you will have to do. It will not be about the length of your paper, but it will be about the content. Doing things quickly may be efficient, but it will not always guarantee the best quality. 

R: Research - College teaches us how to think for ourselves and develop ideas authentically. Research is a way to combine all of what you learn into a project that you are passionate about. College is not just about memorization, it is about finding a meaningful purpose or goal and exploring it. 

S: SLEEP! - This one is self-explanatory, yet it is usually the first thing college students tend to forgo when they are stressed out about their workload. Getting a proper night's sleep has been proven to enhance memorization and mental health, so do not forget about it!

T: - This website will quickly become one of your best friends in college. No need to feel intimidated by others’ extensive vocabulary—a quick search can make your essay sound exquisite in no time. It is also a great tool to find the right word to describe just about anything.   

U: Unexpected - You cannot plan out your life. As much as you think you have everything figured out, the unexpected can throw our lives in entirely new directions. Be flexible. The unexpected can create exciting plot twists that give our lives meaning. Rather than following a strict, dull life plan, allow college to shape your life in unexpected ways. 

V: Vitamins - Unfortunately for us college students, getting sick is inevitable. Taking vitamins is a great way to help boost your immune system and prevent a never-ending stuffy nose. I recommend ONE A DAY if you are looking for a daily multivitamin intake. Emergen-C is also a must-have if you feel the symptoms of a cold coming (and it comes in multiple flavors)! Orange juice and clementines are always a good option too.  

W: Water - Staying hydrated is another important part of the equation. Drinking lots of fluids not only helps you stay healthy, but it improves your brain function, maximizes physical performance and can even help with weight loss. If those are not enough to convince you to carry a water bottle at all times, just remember that you need water to survive. 

X: This is the missing variable in the equation. None of us are perfect, and our lives could not possibly include every letter of the alphabet. Some traits come at the expense of others. Nevertheless, examine your student life and think about what you may be missing. That is your “X”—think of it as a goal or a missing variable, and work to incorporate it into your life. 

Y: Yourself - Be yourself! It may be a cliche, but it is important to keep in mind. Blending into the crowd may be tempting, but college is about standing out and using our diverse backgrounds as assets.  

Z: Zen - It’s easy to let stress overpower us when our workload grows, but it is important to find ways to combat that. Try various activities and see which help you manage your stress levels. Medication, yoga or exercise may work for you. Finding a way to stay calm and attentive is necessary for college survival. Let your intuition guide you rather than your stress, and you’ll be surprised where you end up.


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