Monday, February 23, 2015

Lessons I learned in my first semester of college

Whoooo wheeee, second semester is off to a great start, and I'm so thrilled by it. I feel like I took a lot of time on break and during these first weeks to really reflect on my very first semester of college. Everything's changed and for the better in the most part. I know I tried to do some reflecting on my 2014, but I learned things the good way and bad way during first semester and I'm excited to see where this last half of my freshman year takes me!

School can be really hard. I learned this firsthand and didn't get so stellar grades. I'll admit it. I was a little worried and really embarrassed at posting this, but hey, I'm not going to cover it all up with sunshine and rainbows-- my GPA suffered simply because I wasn't adjusted to a college workload. I had never experienced classes where there were only four exams and that comprised your entire final grade, or classes where you had 70 pages of reading expected for each class. Everything about college classes is different and I had trouble.

Every single assignment is very important, and you need to treat it like so. There's no such thing as busy work in college because everything is assigned for a reason and serves a purpose in your learning. Just because you can wait until the last minute and get by with homework doesn't mean you're actually learning it. Take time to absorb the material and do assignments to the best of your ability-- there's no room for slacking on one assignment because it can really bring down your overall grade. Also, there's not very much daily homework, so it's important to keep ahead on papers and readings.

Actually do the readings. In half my classes, the readings weren't explained in class, they were just there to aid the discussion, and if you can't add to or understand the discussion, then you're really missing out on valuable time.... because the second half of that is that you'll really only spend about two and a half to three hours IN that class per week. This is both the downfall and the blessing of college; more information is covered in a short period of time so that you technically have more "free time" to spend how you choose, but that free time is expected to be spent studying, reading, and working. That was something I never realized in high school, the fact that even if you don't have an actual assignment to be working on, there's always work that can be done.

Participating in class is scary, but necessary. I like to talk, so this was never something that really bothered me in high school. But coming to college freaked me out because everyone was so smart and I felt pressured to always be right all the time, so I was hesitant to participate in discussions, which really isn't tolerated in college. The best way I learned to combat that was to be as fully prepared as possible. Do the readings, print out the guides offered, and get ahead in work in whatever way possible. You don't always have to be right with what you say in class, but when you know what's going on, you can tackle it a little more confidently.

Your grades can't be checked in a snap like they were in high school. Some professors post their grades online to sites to Blackboard, some don't, and it can kind of be up in the air with how you're actually doing in the course. Every article you read about college will tell you to take advantage of office hours, which I highly encourage as well, but don't be afraid to talk to your professor about how you're doing and how you can improve. Don't wait until the very end to ask, but if you talk to them several times throughout the semester, you'll be doing much better and at least have a game plan for improvement.

Don't skip class. I thankfully never missed a class last semester, but I know people that did and it hurt them. Especially at a smaller school like UR, knowing and following the attendance policy is crucial for success. I had significantly more sick days in high school than in college because I could always make up stuff afterwards. My rule of thumb in this is the Momma Scroggin line- "unless you're puking, suck it up".

Caffeine doesn't help you work harder. You help yourself work harder. It's a great aid when you're about to fall asleep, but becoming physically and psychologically dependent on it is not glamorous or fun, it can make you sick and irritated and it doesn't actually fix your work ethic.

FOMO, the fear of missing out, is definitely real first semester. I was always worried I would be missing out on friendships if I didn't stay in the library or go out or even have a meal with someone who had asked me to. It kept me kind of exhausted at times and I really don't know how to fix this, but just know to stay open minded and listen to your body and your needs. Missing one thing doesn't change your whole college experience.

And on a few lighter notes, I found a few things I wrote halfway throughout last semester that gives me the chills to read now... oh how I feel like I've adjusted.

1. Your feet stay dirty. Nail polish is just there to cover the dirt, and you have to build up a lot of callus after the cuts and blisters are there. (Obviously written when I was wearing sandals everyday.)

2. You will sweat a lot and there's just nothing you can do about it.

3. You WILL make friends, whether it's because of their dorky adjective during orientation or someone in your class or anything. 

4. You somehow find unique ways of doing absolutely everything quicker or more efficiently.

5. Nothing is stopping you. From anything, for better or for worse. Make of it what you will.

6. You will most likely be teased about where you're from and you'll start to notice geographically based quirks in everyone. 

7. Laundry is like house arrest.

8. You may not see your roommate a lot. Yes, you two live together, but there's a chance you just don't have the same schedule and don't see them. I remember last semester, my roommmate and I didn't ever see each other on Wednesdays until 10 or 11 at night.

9. High school is not the best four years of your life (chances are you already learned that).

10. Your phone rarely gets to 100%.

11. Getting mail is legitimately the most exciting thing ever.

12. You really just can't escape germs.... the germaphobe in me had to learn to not let it bother me as much as it used to.

13. You'll miss your old friends in the most random ways you had imagined.

14. You will get injured or sick and someone will take care of you, though it won't be your mom. Funny story- I had never really talked to one of my now good friends on my hall, but at the beginning of the year, we were going to get our computers set up and I, of course, laptop in hand, missed a step and totally twisted my ankle. We didn't even know each other but she ran and got me ice and wrapped my ankle and sat and laughed with me. Or like a few weeks ago when I couldn't move out of my bed because I was so sick and my friend brought me soup and didn't even let me make it myself. People just take care of you when you're in need, and you do it for them without even thinking about it.

15. The gym is now a prime people-watching place.

16. You'll meet plenty of people and just not remember their name, especially at the beginning of the semester. I also didn't know anyone's last names for the longest time.

17. Calling your college or dorm 'home' will give you goosebumps the first few times.

18. You will start to find the most ridiculous outfits for themed parties. Tutus and colored spandex are obviously just essentials... okay Mom?!

19. You don't care about who sees you without makeup anymore.

20. You will have so many more closets and you'll share everything with everyone. It's wonderful.

And most of all, you'll just change. I can't explain it, but there's just something about it that I can't really pinpoint. You'll realize that you're becoming so close with people so quickly and it baffles you when you realize that these are your people, and your people that you're going to spend the next four years with. Everything changes, but in the best way possible. 

And heck, it's pretty great.


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  1. Hahaha your list is hilarious is 100% on point! 17-20 are definitely some of my favorites!
    xx, Mikkaela
    The Southwestern Prepster

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