I know you’re probably….. No, I know you’re totally excited to finally experience college for what it’s worth! But if there’s one thing you should know, don’t jump the gun. Remember, college is a great experience, but also what you make of it. You’re considered an adult now, and while you may think you don’t have responsibilities, you really do. Your parents aren’t here to tell you what to do, clean up after you or get your lives for you.
College is the time to see what you’re made of. It’s a time of self exploration, to truly discover who you are and the type of person you want to be. Experience everything. As Neale Donald Walsch said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”, so get up and get out.
Talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Join clubs and organizations, even if they only slightly peak your interest. Learn to cook because chances are you’ll get tired of that cafeteria food real quick. Pick a major that you’ll enjoy, not just one that will make you money. Discuss important issues with your roommate(s). Explore your college town. Experiment with your taste in clothes. Take the date just for a free meal. Don’t drink the jungle juice, and most importantly, learn to appreciate who you’re becoming!
As a senior, this is my last go-around, and I would like to impart some knowledge on you. Here are 3 tips that pretty much sum up surviving college in a nutshell.
1. Have discernment when it comes to friends.
Your parents have always told you to choose your friends wisely, and they are right. In college you meet a lot of different characters and not all of them can be or should be trusted. If you thought you left immaturity and pettiness back in high school, you thought wrong; they just include older people now.
Be careful with who you hang around because as they say, “you are the sum of the five people closest to you”. So if you hang around lames, you’ll unfortunately become one too (at least by association). Be careful of who you tell your business to because not everyone has your best interest at heart. And lastly, make memories with the ones that matter (eventually you’ll figure out who those people are). Those are the ones that go on to become a part of your bridal party and “aunts and uncles” to your children.
2. Find your niche.
In the midst of experiencing everything, it’s important that you find what you’re truly passionate about. Once you find that, develop the skills you need to succeed in that area. Find different opportunities to practice these skills (i.e. joining organizations on campus, doing internships and work-study jobs) and really take advantage of everything around you, especially as a student of color.
Go to workshops, meet others with the same interest, find a mentor and learn how to turn your passion into a paycheck. When you find what you love to do, you become less stressed and actually begin to enjoy what you’re learning in class. College will have you confused about alot of other things in your life as it is so make this one less thing!
3. Develop a study pattern and don’t stress.
You’re in school to get a degree, so don’t forget that. Figure out how you learn and what type of studying works best for you. Are you a visual learner? An audio learner? Where do you do your best work: the library, your room, in a coffee shop? The answers to these questions are essential to developing healthy study habits and succeeding in your classes. Plan accordingly and try not to slack and leave everything until the last minute. Once you figure all this out, you’ll avoid the biggest headache and stressor of college: procrastination. Keep perspective on everything – it’s not about the mistake, it’s about the lesson learned!
It’s okay if you don’t have everything together during your first year, you’ve got three more to make up for it. Have fun, Stay focused and Trust the process.