Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How I Surrvived My First Semester of College and What I Learned

I have officially finished my first semester at college *cue the marching band.* I heard someone describe time really well the other day and it applies perfectly to college, "The days go slow but the weeks/months/years go fast." And that my friends, is the realest thing I have ever heard. There were definitely times when I would sit in my "favorite" class listening to my "favorite" professor and I thought "can time go any slower?" And yet here I am, one semester down, seven more to go, and I feel like time flew by.

It was a semester full of trials, tears, lessons, excitement, accomplishment, failure, rejoicing, trembling, fear, joy, heartache, and fun. I've had so many amazing experiences and I have learned so much.What did I learn? Well I'm so glad you asked, here are a few of the most important things I've learned so far.

1) College is not high school. I should preface this by saying I was not the smartest person in my class, I did not win "most brilliant" in school superlatives, and I was not valedictorian. I did work really hard for my grades, though, and I studied a decent amount to get where I wanted to be and I did well. In college I'm average. I have a friend who graduated Summa Cum Laude and in the top ten from her high school, and she is now attending an academically challenging college. The first thing she said to me when I saw her over break was, "I'm average, Julia." Being average is tough for some people to handle, for others its not. Wherever you fall on the "perfectionist scale" just remember that your value as a person is not determined by the grades you make. If you consistently put your best foot forward and try your hardest, you should be proud of yourself!

2) Take study breaks. The college that I attend is pretty academically challenging. Therefore, I often spend a good chunk of my weekends studying. I've learned, though, that if I stay holed up in my room cramming for my early morning Monday test, I miss out on a lot of fun things happening on campus. Many of the life lessons I've learned at college have come from outside of the classroom. So take a study break every once in awhile and go learn yourself some life lessons.

3) Sleep is important. Contrary to popular belief, it is still recommended that a person get 7-8 hours of sleep, Every. Night. Now obviously that probably isn't going to happen, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. If you think you can go to bed early, great! If you simply can't get your friends out of your room before 2 a.m., you should probably stay away from early morning classes. Study after study has shown that you perform at your best when you are well rested (and no, 5 cans of red bull does not equal 8 hours of sleep).

4) Don't be afraid to be a good friend. It can be hard sometimes when you feel like a friendship is one sided. I've learned that sometimes that "other friend" is not consciously dissing you, they just don't think about things (over-think??) as deeply as you do. So don't be afraid to keep asking that friend to have dinner, or meet up for coffee. Also, though, consider whether or not this is relationship worth continuing. Don't be afraid to let people go.

5) Take your grades seriously. Over finals week a room on my hall wrote on their door's dry erase board, "Pain is temporary, finals are forever." While that might have been a bit dramatic, it's kind of true. Grades stick with you forever. Your future job employers will look at them and your parents will judge you for them. Now, don't go stressing when you get a B on a super hard test. But also, don't blow off studying.

The biggest lesson I've learned is that college is balance. A huge freaking balancing act. It's important to live and have fun at college and meet new people, it's also important to remember why you're here, though. You are at college to grow as a person and learn as much as you can. Keep your goals in sight and always stick to them.

What is your favorite piece of "college advice?"