It’s summer vacations and a bunch of you are either entering college, leaving college, somewhere in between or just…not really concerned about it right now.
Nevertheless, for those of you who are concerned with college and reading this post right now, welcome to my blog!
My name is Simran and I’m an Economics major. I’m mostly a technophobe and avoid social media like the plague, which is why this blog is as big an experiment for me as it is for most people reading it looking for advice on college.
I’m nineteen years old, about to enter my fourth year of university. I like to bake and sew in my spare time, and read voraciously. My favorite color is green and I’m a Scorpio.
But onwards to: University, the reason you’re on this blog.
The first year of university, and for that matter, all the years after can be mildly terrifying, which is what makes the entire experience so thrilling. Three years in and every year brought a new challenge, a new set of people and a new set of expectations and directions.
So, if you’re just entering college, a few tips.
- Take a deep breath: Remember, everyone’s going into this blind. Everyone is looking to find new aspects of themselves in college. No matter if you’re a national athlete, or someone who plays the harmonica on the side or is more inclined towards academics, there are always more sides of yourself to discover in college and trust me, everyone’s out to discover those sides- especially with other people.
- Don’t let opportunities go…but choose them wisely: College gives you a host of opportunities, from study abroad programs to Zumba classes. The great thing? All of these opportunities make you grow as a person! The terrible part? All these choices have consequences and since time is limited, you have to make choices on what kinds of consequences you’d be able to come back from and learn from. The semester abroad might strengthen your CV and your courses, but can you live even further away from family? Running has been your long time hobby since you were a pre-teen, but maybe karate and weights make you calmer? Everything has some significance to it, so early on, learn to draw up some pretty accurate pros and cons list in your head. You’ll need them.
- Positivity is the name of the game: College is really all about highs and lows- often in the same day. As such, prepare to have to give yourself some pep talks, learn to talk and share with others and always have a few of your favorite quotes handy when you need motivation for the gym or when you’re merely admiring the beauty of your campus (fyi, guilty of both!)
One of my favorite quotes is by Marcus Aurelius on the nature of work, which I used every morning for a month to really bring myself to the day. It didn’t always guarantee a positive day or even a good one, but it did often settle my mind enough to get to the work that I loved:
When you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, remember that your defining characteristic – what defines a human being – is to work with others. Even animals know how to sleep. And it’s the characteristic activity that’s the more natural one – more innate and more satisfying.
- Pick up a new hobby: Okay, I will admit, this one is almost nonsensical. Because no matter where you are, you are always changing as a person and therefore picking up new hobbies, no matter whether you’re in a new place or not. But it is important. Not only is a new hobby a great way to meet people, who can either advise you or ooh and aah over your mad skillz, it’s a great way to explore yourself and test out your own limits. This is great especially in college, where there’s no previous status quo already established, a la High School Musical.
Photography is a great hobby in that sense, there’s probably a camera in your phone, some new scenes to capture, some exploring to be done and your own sense of what art and beauty mean to you discovered. I picked up a theoretical interest in coding, though I’m terrible at it, since I go to an engineering college and it’s helped me understand what my friends are talking about and realize (somewhat) the complexity of the machines I use every day.
New people are a great way to be introduced to something new. When someone talks about something with so much passion in their voice, how can you not try it out? Otherwise, most campuses have resources and clubs in things you have to be interested in. There’s always the internet and your beautiful self of course, as well. If your campus doesn’t have something you’d be interested in, well, provide it!
- Organization, organization, organization: I realized the need for proper honest-to-goodness organization pretty late in college, in my sophomore year in fact, just when I began to get overwhelmed with too many extra-curriculars and subjects, though some foundations had been laid back in high school. Don’t leave it that late.
College is in some ways a whole different ballgame from high school, especially with no outside authority keeping oneself in check. Learn to organize way before you ever have to, so at least you know a system that works for you, whether it’s pen and paper, pretty journals with awesome quotes, calendar reminders, digital notes, vague or detailed, the whole works. Though you can’t always test it before ‘la deluge’ hits, at least you’ll have a head start and you’ll take way less time playing catch-up.
And last but not least, remember to enjoy yourself. College is so often something that one feels from the top of their head to the tips of their toes – and so it should be! Keep a cool mind and an open heart and watch yourself blossom!
Next time: On Being an Economic Major.