We’re currently worrying about midterms, internships, job opportunities, exercising, socializing, extracurriculars, and getting sick. It’s a tough time of year to be a college student, no doubt. Our stress is legitimate: it is important to work hard in your classes, to build your resume, and be on the lookout for job and internship opportunities…while also trying to enjoy college (“the best four years of your life,” remember?). But, I’d like to give out some important reminders that we may have forgotten in this hectic mess.
1. You are not your grades nor your academic success.
Your grades are something that you earn or something that you have, but they are not something that you are. You can be stubborn, empathetic, athletic, boisterous, and/or feminine. But you cannot be an A-, a C+, or even an F. Grades do not define you. They are not written across your forehead and they do not affect how people see you, or how you live and act. It’s easy to be consumed by academics and think that they are all that matter, but YOU are what matters. And you are a lot more than one test grade.
2. Sleep is important.
Yes — us college kids love sleep, especially in nap form, but many of us hardly get the suggested 6-8 hours (by the way, docs recommend college-aged people get 7-9). We have a lot to do! And, well, sometimes we procrastinate until the sun goes down. But sleep is so, so important. Sleep helps us consolidate our memory so the next day we’ll actually remember what we were studying all last night. Sleep also is important for your immune system, which is huge because you’re exposed to germs from thousands of other students every day. If you go to bed at a different time every night, based on what work is due the next day, I would recommend setting a bedtime, one that gets you at least 7 hours of sleep. Then, plan your day accordingly, so that you’re done by said bedtime. You might not finish all your work by said bedtime, but the next morning you’ll remember what you studied and actually have the brainpower and energy to complete the leftover work.
3. There are second chances in life (and third and fourth chances, too).
One test is not your do-all, end-all. Remember the SATs? We were told they were the BIGGEST DEAL EVER and would decide our future, where we went to college, and if we were successful the rest of our lives! But, guess what? After we bombed the first SAT, or at least didn’t do as well as we’d hoped, we took it again…maybe a third time. It’s the same in real life. Your professor might not give you a makeup test (if your’s does, let me know which professor you have!), but there will be other tests, and seeing what you did wrong on the first test gives you an idea of how to do better next time. AND if you do poorly on all the tests, one class isn’t going to end you. You can re-take the class, or come up with a way to explain to potential employers why you did poorly in that class. Just be upfront about your shortcomings and have a plan to improve in the future.
4. It’s okay to not do it all.
There are over 500 clubs on my campus. I am proud to participate in 4 of them. And sometimes I have to miss meetings because schoolwork, extracurriculars, and social events overlap. You can’t do all 500. It’s hard to be the president of X, Y, and Z, while also attending U, V, and W., and nobody expects you to be that person. Employers want to see you excel in a few, ideally varied, areas. They don’t want to see you spread yourself so thin that you can’t keep up in any of the different things. If you’re really passionate about one or two things, pour your time and energy into those so you can really learn and thrive there.
5. There are people who love you.
Please remember, at the end of the day, when you’re “studied out,” there are people who love you, whether that be friends, family, pets, etc. It’s okay if you can’t spend time with every one of them every single day. But know that they’re there for you when you need them, and that will be regardless of how you’re performing in all other aspects of your life. You don’t need to impress the people who love you. Being you is enough.