Lately as I've been scrolling through my Blogger feed, I've seen lots of posts about college. I have friends, both online and off, that are attending college for the first time this year (congrats!), or are underclassmen like me. I may not have much experience under my belt yet, and I may not even be good at the things I mention below, but when it comes to this advice, I can tell you with all honesty that it is tried-and-true. I am not the first person to say these things, but they bear repeating. Here are seven tips that will help you get through these 4 (or 5 or 6??) eventful years of your life.
1. Get Good Friends
Don't worry, they're out there. And they will make all the difference in your college experience. If you're living on campus, and certainly if you're far from home, you'll treasure those whom you can spend quality time with. If you find yourself in a large friend group, that's great! If you have a small, tight-knit group that gets you through thick and thin, then just as well. I personally have two close friends at college, and they've made it a very good year.
|Don't get friends like Isabella Thorpe: the perfect example of a bad friend!|
2. Get Good Grades
It's time to brush off any remains of of high school senioritis and start afresh, because grades still matter. If you're on scholarship, they're worth even more, but the education that is reflected in your grades also matters immensely. If you are tired of studying and learning and have little or no desire to put effort into your work, then perhaps college is not the right path for you. And that is not an insult! College is not for everyone, nor should it necessarily be considered the pinnacle of one's life. I would understand completely that one might tire of academic life after being subjected to it for 12+ years.
For those who genuinely want to go through college, getting good grades is an important step to success. But I should make clear that if you're going through a rough patch in the grade book, you will still survive. Grades are not the end-all, be-all, and it's important not to get too wrapped up in them.
|Getting good grades does require a fair degree of balance and self-control!|
3. Take Your Faith Seriously
Unless you're going to a local college, chances are you'll be pulling up some roots when you go off to school, and oftentimes that includes attending your home church. It's ok to have some life changes at this stage of life, but giving your faith life a vacation is not a good idea. With all the new changes and temptations that college inherently brings, I can't begin to tell you how important it is to have a church family, and a place to worship on Sundays.
Last year was the first time in my life I've had to switch congregations. In some ways my new congregation felt like a big change, but at the root of it all, it was such a comfort and blessing to have the same Word of God with me both at home and at school, halfway across the country! My new congregation gave me some great opportunities and friendships, too. It's definitely continued to shape my character!
4. Try Lots of New and Different Things...
I can say from both past experience and the advice of those older than me that now is the time to get involved! Most colleges have dozens of clubs and organizations to fit all sorts of interests. Swing Dance Club? Knit and Crochet Circle? Lacrosse? The capacity to try things you've never had the chance to before is huge. As long as you can finish your homework, I highly encourage joining a handful of clubs each year, and sticking with the ones that strike your fancy. And don't forget about the concerts, lectures, and galleries going on constantly both on and off campus-many of them are free!
Not to be contradictory, but if you're getting dizzy just thinking about all you have to do for school in the weeks ahead, or if you really need an extra job to make ends meet, it's totally ok to focus on your work and studies for a while. After all, you're going to school to get a degree, not just to have extracurricular fun. While I'd still say having a few clubs and activities per week is important, if it's giving you more stress than enjoyment, cut them off for a bit! As long as you're not the president of a club or part of a sports team, most campus organizations can (and should) understand a student's need to study.
6. Explore Off-Campus
It can be really easy to get stuck in a campus "bubble", especially if your school isn't spread across a large city. There may be a lot to do on campus, but let me tell you from personal experience that staying on one organization's property for too long can start wearing on you subconsciously. So get your wanderlust in gear and take a walk outside the campus walls! I have had a fabulous time exploring my college town. There is so much to explore and discover, whether you like shopping, architecture, nature, or even just need some exercise! Be safe of course, and if it makes you feel more comfortable, drag a friend along. But I'll bet neither of you will regret taking a little study break and coming up for some fresh air outside the bubble!
|Channel your inner Elizabeth Bennet and go for a walk!|
7. Don't Forget About Home
We all experience some homesickness when away from our families for an extended period of time, but I'll warn you that it's just as easy to get wrapped up in college culture, as well as that paper due next Friday, and your suitemate's party, and your rough day at work...
Point being, don't get tunnel vision at college, especially if you're feeling a bit stressed! Remembering your family back home and roots you picked up when you left, and looking forward to the next time you get to return to them (even if it's not until Christmas!) can make a world of difference. No matter how huge your schedule and world may seem at school, never forget where you came from.
If you're going to college this year, congratulations and good luck! :)