As a current Troy University graduate student, I can confidently say that my undergrad years were some of the most exciting, but frightening, years of my life. From 2010 until 2014, I was a student at the University of Alabama. During my college journey I have made wonderful lifelong friends, learned so much about who I truly am, and I received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication and Information Sciences at the end of it. Along this wonderful journey, I have made plenty of mistakes and had to learn hard life lessons. I am not going to lie to you all – college can be a bumpy ride (but it doesn’t have to be). Check out these 10 tips on how to make your college experience one of your best life experiences:
1. Successfully take notes for a difficult class
I am sure you all have heard this saying before: in order to pass a class, you must take good notes. When you arrive at your college class, ditch some of your High School note-taking techniques. Write your notes legibility and in ways that YOU can comprehend. Sometimes, writing a simple diagram in your notes can help you study for that mid-term later on. Write down key points and a few details from your professors’ lecture and ALWAYS write down whatever they present on the board. Trust me, it will be on the next test (unless they say otherwise). Do not write down EVERYTHING your professors says. The point to taking good notes it to locate the main point of a lecture and some vital details. Don’t know how to successfully take notes? Go to your nearest writing lab and let them help you. If you are having trouble passing a difficult course, ask you professor for help as soon as you hit a snafu. Also, locate the nearest tutoring lab. Talk with some of your classmates and form a study group.
2. Treat your roommate with dignity and respect
When you get to college, you will have a roommate. It is not easy to share a room with a stranger! Here is some really solid advice for you guys: do unto others as you will have them do unto you. Remember that golden rule and treat it as a rule of thumb when you go off to college. Treat this new person with respect and dignity. If you can, start a conversation with them and get to know them. After all, you guys will be sharing living space. I remember when this new chick moved into my college suite with me and my other roommates. Once I got to know her, this girl became one of my best roommates and she was a sweet friend. If you get to the point where you CANNOT get along with your roommate; see your Residential Advisor and request to move (if possible).
3. Take the initiative to meet new people
I get it; it is super scary to be thrown into this world of higher academia and be expected to be sociable and get excellent grades. But understand this-no man is an island unto himself. One way to meet people is to get involved in student-led organizations that interests you. Get involved and begin to make meaningful connections. You know that girl that you sit next to in class? Start up a small conversation. You remember that guy that bid you ‘good morning’ that lives right next door to you? Speak to him. It is going to take time but the more you put yourself out there, the more people will gravitate towards you. Start slow and at your own pace. If you make one or two friends during your college experience, you are golden.
4. Keep in contact with your loved ones
Believe me when I say that is so easy to get caught up in ‘the college life’ that you forget to call your dear old mom and dad. Make time to reach out to your family and friends back home. Give your old man a call out of the blue. Facebook your mom and tell her that you love her. Tell that old friend from High School that you miss them. It is important to remember keep in contact with love ones. It is important to remember where you are from-or-it’s keen to remember where your roots grow… so to speak. Keeping in contact with family and friends gives you an unbelievable boost of confidence and strength to deal with the next go ‘round of ‘the college life’.
5. Save money on books
Books for your college classes will cost you a few locks of your hair and some internal organs. No, I am joking with you all. College is expensive enough without your respective university charging $400 for a book your will only use TWICE in your COM 100 class. Let me give you a few websites that will help ease the pain of buying books: chegg.com, amazon.com, ebay .com, and half.ebay.com. If you can, rent the books you need. Buy used books. Buy your books from other students that no longer need them (look up Facebook groups dedicated to this as well). Go out there and save money.
6. Seek out job and internship opportunities
You want to know how to score a job and an awesome internship while in college? Ask. Ask your Residential Advisor, ask your professors, ask your classmates, ask you academic advisor, ask the Dean of Students… in fact, ask everyone you come across. Someone is bound to have the answers you seek. In fact, your specific college likely has several websites dedicated to finding employment and internships. You can’t find that awesome internship you wanted? Volunteer. Volunteer in your department of study. Volunteer as your favorite professor’s teaching assistant. It will pay off.
7. Ask important questions
Listen to me and listen to me good–there is nothing wrong with asking questions. Don’t let anyone make you feel terrible for wanting to get an understanding of something. If it is important for you to know, then have the confidence to ask all the questions you need to. My mother taught me that it is better to get an understanding than to speculate. Do you know that scripture “you have not because you ask not?” Let this be your motto for surviving your college years. If you are having a meeting with your professors, academic advisors or interviewer, try writing your questions down before you get there. Get their contact info so you can ask questions later. Your voice and concerns matter, so ask questions and get the answers you need.
8. Become comfortable with yourself
You are going to notice that you will start to change more and more while at college. Embrace it. Change for the better, but do not lose who you are to fit into specific group. Make good, long-lasting, healthy changes as well. As long as these changes will bring positivity and add to your life (and not subtract from it), it’s all breezy. Get comfortable with who you are because ‘you’ are going to be with ‘you’ for the rest of your days-so you might as well learn to love yourself now.
9. Avoid making bad decisions
Media and society will make you think that booze, drugs and random hook-ups make your college life worth-while. I am here to tell you that society just told you a big, bald-faced lie. I know for a FACT that it is so easy to yield to ANY kind of temptation in college. But it’s earlier to get involved a life style that you can’t handle. Let me tell you a quick story. One year I lived with a bunch of girls who could PARTY. One night their extremely inebriated friend was screaming about how she may have been sexually assaulted AND how her friends found her sitting on an ant hill. That was not a pretty sight to see at 4:30 a.m. This young woman got caught up in something she wasn’t able to handle (I later found out she was OK and healed from her ant bites). But let me give you some friendly advice: if you wake up the ‘beast’ (whatever lifestyle consumes you); you are going to have to feed him(continue to live that lifestyle because you’re hooked). Avoid anything and anyone that threatens to deter your college career. Think about this; if you didn’t do ‘that’ before you got to college, chances are you don’t need to do ‘that’ while you’re in college.
10. Find an uplifting ministry
I would have been even more lost than I already was if I did not find the right church and college ministry. It took a couple hit-or-misses, but I found the right ones! Just as I had to study in order to succeed in my educational life, I had to do the same for my spiritual life. Whatever college you choose to attend (or currently attending) will have college ministries already in place. Begin to ask around and see which ones you like. You need something to keep you afloat in the vast seas that is higher academia.
Featured photo credit: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga via offcampushousing.utc.edu