Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Advice for College

This is an old post I made on Facebook, and I still think it is relevant now. Something for high schoolers and other prospective college students to think about...

When I entered college last August, I had no idea what to expect. I had an idea, but I was kind of out on my own. Now that I (kind of) have things under control, I want to help next semester’s freshmen. I made a list of things I wish I had known. The things are based solely on my own experience. The list is not all inclusive. The list is not going to fit you 100%. I violate a lot of the advice I give in this list regularly. I’m just trying to help in any way I can.

1) Don’t drink! Yeah. You’re probably underage anyway. And you don’t need the morning hangover. And that’s valuable study time you’re wasting. And you can’t afford it. Like my bio prof once said, “Get through college. THEN you can drink. Besides, you’ll have more money to buy better beer.”

2) Your roommates are not NECISSARILY your friends! You are co-habitating with them. That doesn’t mean you HAVE to be friends. Yes, it makes things a LOT easier, but don’t try to make a connection where there will never be one. Just go with the flow, avoid conflict, and get a mini fridge and a food box.

3) Make friends! Yeah, it’s not easy at first. Trust me. But later you’ll be thankful you have some in the immediate area. The support net you make will help in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Get involved with clubs, frats, sororities, organizations, church groups, volunteering, ANYTHING to make friends and have a support network.

4) Make friends with art majors! Yeah. I’m not going to explain this one. You can thank me later though.

5) Get hooked on a web comic! Yeah, it sounds dumb. But that one little laugh from a comic can make the difference between a good day and a bad day. Read one that not only interests you, but one that updates regularly and often. Questionable Content, Dr. McNinja, QWANTZ, Girls With Slingshots, and XKCD are good ones to follow.

6) Read DAR! A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary! Don’t let the name turn you off. It’s not censored, and it gets really risqué, but Mrs. Moen’s story of her life and what she went through, from college to the real world, is really inspiring and pulled me out of many low spots.

7) Don’t do drugs! Duh. No explanation needed.

8) Don’t go wild with your new freedom! Control your impulse purchases, set a schedule for yourself, and don’t do anything you wouldn’t want the cops or your parents finding out about.

9) Set a schedule for yourself! You’re going to want to sleep in, stay up late, and eat whenever you get hungry. Yeah. That hurts you in the long run. Get up at a certain time (or close to a certain time) every day, eat lunch at about the same time, eat dinner at the same time, and go to bed at the same time. You’ll feel a lot better for it. 

10) Watch your diet! Yeah, you hear stories of the Freshmen 15, but you don’t think it can happen to you. It does. Trust me. Keep in mind what you are eating, eat regularly, and cut out the dessert and snacks. 

11) Work out! Yeah. I hated it too. But it helps. A lot. Not only does it help control your weight and keeps you healthy, it helps you feel better both physically and emotionally. It relieves stress, keeps you alert and attentive, and keeps you happy. Sounds like crap, but research and experience back me up on this.

12) Don’t procrastinate! We’re all guilty of this. Senioritis lasts until the middle of the semester or until you fail your first test. Get your work done as soon as you can. And do it well. Professors are picky. Trust me on this: all nighters suck worse than virgin hookers. 

13) College is not like high school! Yes, you have to take notes. Yes, you have to study all the time. Yes, you have to do actual research. Get used to it.

14) Research is not websites! Research is electronic databases, scholarly journals, books, and government documents. Not Wikipedia, CNN.com, or anything from Google.

15) Check your school email often! Professors email you. Don’t miss a single one or you WILL be screwed. 

16) Make friends with your professors and get involved with the faculty! Remember, these are the people that write your letters of recommendations. Even if you get involved with a professor in a department totally different from your major, it’s a good thing. Word gets around, and when it comes time to get job experience while still in school, you’re more likely to be called upon if you are well known and in good standing.

17) Things you will need for the dorm: mini-fridge, food box, TV, computer, heater, fan, George Foreman, microwave, pots, pans, measuring cups, silverware, plates, napkins, paper towels, regular towels, washcloths, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, soap, shampoo, razor, A SHARP KNIFE THAT ACTUALLY CUTS, headphones, mp3 player, printer, Pepto-Bismol, comb, rugs, blankets, manicure kit, bandaids, plates, bowls, clothes, dish soap, laundry soap, fabric softener, and just a FEW things to make your room less sterile and more like home, just to name a few things.

18) Don’t be a afraid to decorate, but don’t go overboard! You’re going to be living there for a while. May as well make it inhabitable. Just remember, whatever you take with your to school, you have to take back home later. 

19) Manage your time! A full calander, a daily planner, cell phone notes, a dry erase board, and sticky notes do a lot in the way of keeping you on track and making sure you get things done. 

20) You have meal plans for a reason! Use them! Free food! You don’t have to cook! YOU SAVE MONEY! There’s no reason not to use them! 

21) Sleep! Yes! You’ll want to do it more than ever, but it’s hard to come by! Binge sleeping on the weekends is not good for you either. Plan on getting at least 8 hours a night. Finding out that you can operate on 6 is a bad thing. You WILL regret it later. Don’t drink coffee or caffine about 4 hours before you go to bed so that you have time to clear out your system. Don’t work in your bed. Best quote: “Your bed is for sleep and copulation. Nothing else.” If you work or even read in bed, you body gets primed to work, making it harder to fall asleep and get a good night’s sleep. 

22) Watch how you schedule your classes! Having all your classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so you can have Tuesday and Thursday off sure sounds nice, but that’s a hell of a rigorous schedule and you will get burnt out very quickly. Also, schedualing your classes later in the day sounds like a good idea too, but you are wasting pretty days and study time. 8 a.m. classes suck, but you get the rest of the day to do whatever you like or need to do. Night classes suck. Period. Having a lot of classes after lunch is bad. You have lost a lot of motivation after 12 or 1 o’clock. So as much as you hate it, get up early and start your day. Worst case scenario is that you take a nap in the middle of the day. At least your meeting your classes and being kind of motivated.

23) Watch how much you nap! Sleep during the day, and you won’t at night. Its that simple.

24) Facebook and Twitter are your enemies! I’m a prime example of how you can get screwed over by them. 5 minutes turns into 3 hours very quickly.

25) Get a Twitter account! Yes, on the heels of that last one, I’m saying Twitter can be good. It’s like the web comic thing. If you follow the right people, you can get a good laugh, find a few good articles, and have an outlet to express your thoughts freely. It sounds dumb, but I have been able to use article I have found on Twitter to use in class, both as openings for discussions, providing background information, and just to send to the professors as a supliment to the lecture. I suggest following @wilw, @mental_floss, @donttrythis, @erikamoen, @shitmydadsays, @grantimahara, @nerdist, @sidshuman, and @jephjacques. Some are funny, some are intelligent, some help in class. Just some suggestions.

26) Be different! Take the different approach or idea or argument in class! Professors really like different idea as long as they are presented intelligently. You may be completely wrong, your opinions overly biased, or facts not quite right, but it opens up discussions and helps you learn. Trust me, I remember more from tangents in some lectures than the actual lectures themselves. 

27) Your first couple of week will be hell! You will want to quit, you will want to go home, and you will want to die. You just have to stick it out and do your best.
And finally, an extra word of advice: Take this with a grain of salt. This is based just on my experience. ONE PERSON’S EXPERIENCE! Not everyone is the same. I just wish that I known some of this going into college last semester. I hope this helped. Have fun in college kids! :)

Other college kids and graduates: Feel free to add your own advice too! I wish I had had more at the time!

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