Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Survive your Freshman Year of College

Getting ready for my first year of college was kinda like getting ready for Kindergarten.

 I didn't know how it was going to be like, I was terrified and overly excited at the same time, and I asked my parents so many questions that they threatened that they were going to ground me for a month if I didn't stop (that only happened when I was getting ready for Kindergarten though).

My Freshman year was a learning experience, (and for the majority of it, all I wanted to do was just curl up in a ball and either bawl my eyes out until I slept or just sleep) but it was also an experience in itself in showing me how to be an adult, how people who write textbooks have no lives, and how a professor's only goal in life is to make their student's lives miserable.

Here's how to survive your Freshman year at least (in no certain order):

Read the textbook
Of course this is way easier said than done, but at least try to do it! Do it as soon as you get the textbook, because if you wait until class actually starts you will get left behind (that happened to me during my fall semester with Chemistry. I was so far behind that I just stopped reading the textbook and relied mostly on homework and (badly written) notes. I passed anyway, but still don't do it!!!). Reading the textbook ahead of time is also a way to know in advance what your professor is going to be lecturing about anyway. If you already know the material already, it is then that much easier to understand a complicated subject the second time around (and you'll have much more "free" time).

Plan everything in advance
Get a planner! Or an Agenda Book! Or a Calendar! (Or your mother!) You will need this in order to keep your brain intact and preventing it from turning in a bowl of mush at the end of the year. My mistake was that even though I did have one, I never used it, because I survived my entire middle school/ high school career memorizing everything I had to do. It will not work in College, unless you have a photographic memory (which would be very useful if I did have one). Although I never once forgot what I had to do, I screwed up my priorities and ended up procrastinating on the majority of my assignments.

Nervous Breakdowns are OK
Starting out College is nothing like high school, unless you happened to take a boatload of AP/ College Prep classes (or if you were home schooled), then you're fine. But, if you only took a few or none at all, realize that it's okay to feel overwhelmed with the sudden change in how you do practically everything. It's okay to suddenly break down and cry when your GPA is not as high as you want it to be. Attempting to study for exams that cover nearly half the textbook in only a week, along with studying for 3 other exams (depending on your major) or writing essays for all of your classes (including math) is the norm. Eventually you will get the hang of doing and studying for your assignments and it will almost be a piece of cake (or more like a quarter of a piece of cake... would pie be better?).

Make friends with your professors
Being friends with your professors will get you far in life (or in the semester at least)! Just try to do so in a non-scandalous kind of way. Even if you only get to spend only 15 weeks with them, being friendly allows you to be in your professors's good graces and it will be much easier to convince them to move up test and assignment dates.

Join Clubs
This is a great place to start if none of your friends wanted to go to the same college as you (I'm lucky because only one of my friends came with me, but she's in none of my classes). You can find people who have the same weird interests as you do and start hanging with them for the rest of your college life. Clubs also get your mind off of the assignments that you should be doing. (If the meetings for the clubs at my college weren't held all at the same time I could probably go to more clubs, but logic is not a trait that college possesses.)

Be friendly
At times, trying to make friends in an unfamiliar place might feel like getting all of your wisdom teeth getting pulled out at the same time. It might even feel like betrayal, because while your childhood friends are studying in other states, here you are making new ones. No doubt, it will be awkward. But at the same time since you don't want to end up all alone and crying in a corner, you try your best! In the end you'll get people who you can share your experiences with and they'll be right next to you through it all.

Eat lots of food
A happy stomach = a happy brain. Eat so you will be able to remember everything you need to and you'll be able to accomplish all of your assignments. Eat too little and you'll forget everything. Eat too much and you'll fall asleep trying to remember everything. Why must food be so mean?

Study within your means
I'll tell you right now, I hate studying (who likes studying?). But, you gotta do it or else you get a low GPA. And a low GPA means spending more time in school. School's boring right? So, do it right the first time! Cramming, no matter how well you know the subject, is never a good idea. If you continue, you might as well turn your head into a toilet, because nothing will stay in it. That's about as smart as writing a 10-paged paper without once hitting the save button, going through a blackout, and losing all of your work. Instead, plan your time wisely. Study only a few hours a day, everyday, and be sure to take breaks in between studying sessions. (Note that taking breaks between sessions does not mean going out and hanging with friends or just abandoning your work for video games for hours at a time. That's stupid and mostly counterproductive.) Little by little you will grasp your information and soon enough everyone will beg ask for your help.

Sleeping vs. Napping
Everyone has different opinions when it comes to sleeping vs. napping. I personally feel like crap every time I wake up from a nap, so I usually forgo the nap and go straight to work, using sleep as a reward for all the good work I did. Or, if I'm feeling really unproductive, I don't just optimistically take a nap, have an epiphany, and get back to work. I just go to sleep and leave my assignment until the next day, and sometimes the day after, or even the day after that. Whether you like taking naps for short intervals of time while doing your assignments or just waiting until you're finished to sleep, it will be the same end result, but just don't skip it all together, unless you're procrastinating.

Learn how to drive
On my third week of school I got into an accident (and it was only about 6 months before that I had gotten my probationary licence).
When my daddy came rushing to the scene of the accident, he looked in even worse shape than the car.
It might sound stupid if you're a resident, but as a commuter it is imperative because if you don't really know how to drive then you're screwed (or at least inconvenienced like I was).

The year will go by in a flash  
If you're worrying about how your first year of college will go, chances are that you will spend more time worrying than the time you'll actually spend in class. The semesters will go by quickly, you'll have a whole entourage of friends, and if you're lucky you'll take over the entire school in only a year.

So, Forget about it and have fun! But, don't forget about studying...

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