As graduation approaches rapidly I have taken some time to reflect on what college has taught me about myself and how much I have grown since entering college as a young, spirited,18 year old. While the academic growth I have seen is beyond what I had anticipated I believe it would have been similar whether I had stayed at home for college. Oftentimes I think the individual growth beyond academics can be an afterthought when considering going away to college.
Balancing a heavier workload, social life, working, and taking care of yourself can seem a daunting task with the new sense of freedom living on your own provides. With no one but yourself to keep you on track, creating a routine is crucial to success. I have found that keeping a planner with all important dates for assignments each semester allows me to stay on top of my work so that I can avoid last minute cramming. I also have found planning my time around working out, going to the grocery store, etc. helps keep the plan ahead. Establishing a routine and learning to tackle tasks one at a time have been my holy grail time management skills learned in college.
Taking care of yourself and your space
Self care is crucial to maintaining positive mental health, low levels of stress, and will even reflect in your academic success. Time management as I mentioned earlier is imperative to ensure you have time to take care of yourself. Whether it be in the form of eating well, exercising, meditating, drinking enough water and sleeping well make sure to prioritize yourself. When you feel good you will see it transfer into all other aspects of your life.
Navigating new relationships/ maintaining a sense of self
For some young adults it is confusing when you go away to college and lose your sense of collective identity you felt comforted by in your hometown or state. Throughout college I have learned the importance of staying true to myself in situations where it may have been easier not to. As a freshman when meeting new people and trying to make friends it is tempting to try and align yourself with people right away but maintaining this is exhausting and being authentic is rewarding in the long run.
Staying in touch with family and friends
The sad truth of moving away from home is that some relationships will not survive the distance. While I expected this coming into college it was still very disconcerting for me at the time and it is similar to how I feel leaving college. Looking back I know that not all friendships are meant to last and that’s okay. Rather than forcing friendships to last find people who grow with you.
While each individual’s college experience is unique and college is not for everyone, I believe the personal growth and life lessons learned throughout college to be an equally important part as academics over the past four years.