College is not easy. Even though it’s only 4 years out of an entire lifetime, it is one of the most important and life-changing eras of the human experience. Whether it is move-in day your Freshman year, or filling out graduation papers as a Senior, you change, grow, learn, and think differently throughout each year of college. Here are some tips on how to survive all 4 stages of college…
F R E S H M A N
1. Be Health Conscience
It’s true; dorms are indeed a giant cesspool of foreign bacteria and viruses. With hundreds of students living in tight corridors, sharing the same bathrooms, and dining in the same location, germs are easily spread. Be proactive and buy some hand sanitizer, wipe down surfaces with Lysol, and wear flip-flops in the shower. I extracted Swine Flu my Freshman year, and believe me, walking around with a surgical mask was not only uncomfortable, it also didn’t help attract the cute boys on my floor.
2. Avoid the 15
Some think that the “Freshman 15” is inevitable, but there are methods to preventing your high school weight from increasing. Yes, there are half-baked cookies, smothered burritos, and fried chicken wings that taunt you in the dining hall. (Not to mention the never-ending opportunities to stuff your face with pizza and chug beer). However, you can direct your focus more towards the surplus of fruits, fresh salad bars, and whole grain breads. I’m not saying you can’t splurge every now and then, just be more mindful of what you consume on a daily basis. Having trouble getting motivated to go to the gym? Wear your workout clothes and tennis shoes to class – You’ll have no excuses then.
3. Take Advantage of Your Freedom
Freshman year is your time to explore! You are gifted with the freedom to decide which path to follow and plan for the coming years, as well as blessed with ample opportunities to seek out new friends. Make an effort to attend every social event on (and off!) campus, even if they seem lame. Enroll in classes that seem the most fun and interesting to you, try courses you’ve never heard of before, and be daring in your hunt for education. It’s your time to meet new people and discover your passion.
S O P H O M O R E
1. Choose the Right Roommate
The year you get out of the dorms and move into your very own apartment or house is beyond exciting. You’ll have your own den to furnish how you want, party all you want, and have the privacy of your own bedroom and bathroom. The difficult part is choosing the right person/people to live with. Take your time. Really think about the qualities you want in a roommate and choose someone wisely. Do they share the same values as you? Are they clean, motivated in school, and financially stable? This decision may effect your entire year. You don’t want to be stuck in a lease with a drunken psycho who decides to adopt a bunny that ruins all of your furniture. (Take it from someone who has made this mistake).
2. Travel Smarter
You most likely live further from campus now so getting to class may seem more difficult. However, there is no need to rely on cars and waste money on gas and parking spots on campus. Purchase a cheap but reliable bike, a skateboard, or heck – even a Razor Scooter! (I still have mine from third grade). Take advantage of your mobility, add a little more exercise into your routine, enjoy being outside, and keep that extra cash in your pocket – You’ll need it after Senior year, trust me.
3. Reflect on Your Freshman Year
Based on your experiences from the previous year, take some time to analyze what you’ve learned and how you can use that to better this year. Which classes were most interesting to you? Which group of friends made you the happiest, or which group would like to reach out to? Do any sports teams or extracurricular activities sound appealing? Narrow down your options and move forward with a goal.
J U N I O R
1. Make Solid Decisions
This is the year everything should fall into place. You’re halfway through college and you need to make some dynamic decisions to sail through to graduation smoothly. Cherish your true friends (you should know who they are by now), and eliminate the people and aspects in your life that make you unhappy. Stick with the major you have chosen, even if it’s not exactly what you want to pursue as a career. Most people do not get a job based on their Bachelors Degree anyways – just get that degree! Apply for an internship. Work experience is crucial at this point, so soak in it. This year, buckle down, focus, and excel.
2. Budget Your Money
You’re almost a real adult now so it’s time to practice being smart with your money. You’ve hit the big 21 and the bars are on the agenda every weekend. Try not to spend all your money on drinks or even eating out. Buy a cheap bottle of wine from the liquor store, cook meals at home, and rotate being a DD with your friends rather than paying for taxis. You can still have fun even if you’re being frugal.
3. Perfect Studying
Junior year you understand how college classes work and have acknowledged your strengths and weaknesses for learning. Embrace the easiest way for you to take notes, whether typing, writing, or recording. Schedule time for naps/breaks and meals, find helpful study groups, and befriend your teachers. You should be confident enough now to grab your education by the horns and kick some butt.
S E N I O R
1. Relive and Reflect
This is it! Your last year of college! Don’t waste a minute. Relive your favorite parts about college even if you’re sick of them. Go to as many events and games as you can, embrace all of your student discounts, and meet up with some old friends. Do things on campus that you haven’t done before, such as seeing a school play or having lunch somewhere where you never have. It’s your last chance for this school to be your stomping grounds and to make memories. Don’t be too anxious to finish, you’ll miss it once you do.
2. Plan For the Real World
Senior year is frightening. The thought of supporting yourself, working a 9-5 desk job, or attending grad school is daunting. Turn your fear into determination and get a head start on your future. Fill out graduation papers ASAP and meet with an advisor. Make a name for yourself at an internship in hopes to land a job. Brainstorm where you’d like to work or live and start applying. Put any money that you can into savings; student loan payments are around the corner. Get going and be excited for the next stage of your life.
3. Congratulate Yourself
This may be the most important tip I give you. Apart from the end of a chapter in your life and the intimidating, mysterious future that awaits, take a moment to think about how far you have come and how awesome you truly are. You did it; you’ve finished college, a huge milestone in everyone’s life. Tell yourself that “You rock!”, you’ve grown to become a new, intelligent, and amazing person, and now you are ready to take on whatever lies ahead. Say to yourself “Bring it Real World, I’m ready!”