Special Guest Writer–Jake Bailey: Starting College

So you’ve begin your freshman year. By now, you’ve read over your syllabi (hopefully), settled into your dorm, and have some kind of routine you follow every day. Class is already starting to pick up, and it may start seeming a little scary. I know when I was in your shoes, I was not doing so hot. Specifically on an emotional level. Everyone would give me all of these tips on time management and campus resources. They helped tons don’t get me wrong, but there are a few tips I’d like to pass down to all of you that you do not hear as often. In addition to the usual academic advice you hear a lot of, this advice is important to heed.

The first piece of advice is rather simple, but makes a significant difference: keep yourself healthy. In my first year of college, I didn’t do a great job of taking care of myself. I put 100% of my energy into my classes, and almost none into myself. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, eating right, etc. I didn’t even look like myself and my grades suffered. I know money is tight in college, but try to eat decent food even if it is a few bucks more. You’re also going to run into situations where staying up all night to finish a paper seems absolutely necessary. I don’t know about y’all, but I need my beauty sleep. Complete as much of that paper as you can, then PLEASE get some sleep. Humans aren’t meant to stay up all night. Get your hair cut. Exercise if you want. Shave regularly (not trying to sound like your parents). All of those seemingly small things really do help, and you will feel 100% better.

My second tip: find a hobby. Find something you can do with others or by yourself that relaxes you. A lot of you probably did some kind of extracurricular activity in high school. Sports, marching band, student government, volunteering, whatever it is–it’s not as easy to do in college. Luckily for you, there are tons of clubs you can join on campus. Even if you for some reason can’t find a club you like, there are many other things to do. I played club dodgeball for a couple of years and loved it. Now I’m taking boxing classes. Just find something you really like. It keeps you in a rhythm and keeps your head clear.

The last thing is a little harder than it sounds. Talk to people. I know, just starting a conversation with a complete stranger out of nowhere seems tough. But guess what? It isn’t. Crack a joke about something that just happened to the person standing in line in front of you. Get to know the people in your classes. You never know what could come out of it. You could be talking to your best friend.

I hope this helps everyone. Don’t spend too much time worrying about the future. I promise if you just buckle down in class, make friends, and do what you love, everything else will fall into place.

Special Guest Writer–Luisa Kickler (Student): First Day of Classes is Finally Here!

The moment you’ve been waiting for all summer is finally here and guess what? You are actually freaking out. Don’t panic! With a little help, your first day of college will be a success. I know that campus seems to be equivalent to a small town (even bigger depending on where you’re from) and it can be quite intimidating if you are not familiar with it. But stay strong, there is this magic thing called map that will guide you right through it. A campus map can be found at the front desk of your dorm, online, or you can probably download an app on your phone. Read the map, study the map, love the map, be the map. No shame in your map game. It is also helpful to figure out where your classes are before they start, so go on a little adventure and look for the buildings that will become your second home. If you’re still nervous about it, there will be information tents all over campus for the first week of classes. After a couple weeks you’ll know campus like the back of your hand and I promise it will get smaller with time.

Now that you got the campus part down, let’s move on to classes. Pack your notebooks, planner (you will need one), pencils, pens, maybe some deodorant? Believe me, you’ll be glad you did. Make sure you leave 15 minutes early, just in case you get lost. When you get to class (like a champ), choose your seat wisely, wherever you’re comfortable but not too comfortable. Pay attention to what your professors have to say, you don’t want to look like an idiot by asking something he/she already repeated 3 times. Try to make at least one friend in each class, in case you need help, notes, or whatever later on. If you feel comfortable, introduce yourself to your professors after class, it is very important to establish a relationship with them. If you are a little reluctant about it, wait a few days and stay after class to ask a question. That way your professors will know who you are and they will know that you are interested in what they are teaching. Super smooth.

After you’re done with classes, organize your syllabi and highlight important dates, you definitely don’t want to miss those. Now all you have to do is sit back and relax, because just like that your first day is over and you didn’t even call your parents crying! College is not so bad after all… Your first day might be over, but you still have 4 more years ahead of you, so make sure you make the most of it. Manage your time responsibly, go to class, do your homework, don’t wait until the last minute, make friends, and last but not least, have fun! College truly is the time of your life, so enjoy!

Expect a Challenge

Are you ready for college? For most of you who are starting college as freshman or are in college already you have probably heard this question countless times. Although you may be sick of it, this question holds a lot of weight. I would argue that no one is really 100% ready for college, especially those just starting out as freshmen. The reason for this is that college involves a lot more than going to class, studying, and taking exams. You might be ready to do the three things I just said (although we are pretty sure there is still some uncertainty), but there is so much more you need to deal with in college. In fact, it is hard to imagine that anyone knows everything about being a college student.

Part of the problem for students in college is that many students do not think about college as a challenge. Like all challenges, college requires a set of special skills in order to overcome the difficulties that college can present. Moreover, it is important to state right from the start that it is really the case that college is not “13th Grade”. There are a number of reasons high school is not the same as college, but let’s touch on two of these right now.

First, of course, part of the difference between high school and college is that not everyone from your high will be attending your college. There will likely be students from all across the state your college is located, as well as students from across the United States and from a number of foreign countries.

Second, there is the subject matter you will be dealing with in your courses. Although there may be a few exceptions, in general your college courses will be qualitatively different from those you had in high school. The exception might be a specific Advanced Placement (AP) course you had in high school. But, even with these AP courses what you will learn in college often is pretty different than your high school courses. A lot of this difference is typically related to the emphasis on research in all of your college courses compared to your high school courses. That is, in high school you typically learn a lot of content, but in college there is a premium on discussing the process of discovery.

Get yourself ready for the challenge—you’ll soon find that being prepared will lead to an amazing college experience!