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From a freshman: Five tips for success in college

From a freshman: Five tips for success in college

As the academic year comes to a close, I’d like to thank Leon for inviting me to contribute to lifehack.org. For this post, I asked my daughter Rachel, who’s finishing her first year of college, what advice she might offer to lifehack.org’s student-readers. Here are Rachel Leddy’s tips for success in college:

1. Build a social network. Living away from home in a dormitory with 1000 other people your age is a little unnatural after about 18 years of family living and close friends. It’s important to make sense of the mass of people by finding those you can relate to and trust. If your roommate is a no-go on the friendship front, seek out activities in your dorm or your campus. Look for religious organizations or activities like intramural sports or debate teams. Find support from your resident advisors, teaching assistants, or other mentors. College friends do not have to replace the connections you have at home; they do, however, make your home away from home more comfortable.

2. Get good with names. Meeting people can be overwhelming, so make yourself special by being the one who knows everyone they meet. People love to be known and recognized, so find a trick to help you keep people straight. When you meet someone new, repeat his or her name aloud once or twice and then put your trick into action. Identify something deeper than clothing choice with the person, such as a story they tell you, the place you where you met (i.e. on a bus to the quad or a specific basketball court), or someone they strongly remind you of. If you forget a name the next time you meet, be honest and ask. Tell the acquaintance that you remember the time or place but you can’t remember the name. People want to be remembered; don’t worry about offending someone by asking them to help you remember them the next time.

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3. Feel out your campus. Get to know your new home by finding a place for everything. Find a specific place to study (like a residence hall library, a specific table at a library, or a coffee shop you like). Find a space outside to play Frisbee, lie out in the sun, or read. Make these places your own and you’ll be more comfortable in your new home. Of course, it’s important to be flexible with your space. Be aware that your space is shared, not owned, and be prepared to find a new place if needed.

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4. Create rituals. This is perhaps the easiest and most important thing to do at the start of the year. Establish familiarity through daily, weekly, and monthly rituals. Rituals can be as simple as taking notes with a favorite pen in journalism or always stopping for a drink at the same soda machine before chemistry. They can be more formal, such as going out to dinner once a week with your roommate or significant other. By setting rhythms in your new space, your days and weeks will be more natural and flow more easily. Flexibility also pertains here, so be prepared to change or reschedule your ritual based on availability and conflicts.

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5. Remember what you’re at school to do. You’re at school to learn. The school is there to provide you with a great education, so do your part and go to class. Stay healthy. Take plenty of vitamin C. While it’s tempting to stay up all hours with friends, get enough rest to keep your immune system up and your mind alert. College is a great (and expensive) opportunity. Don’t waste it.

Rachel Leddy, a linguistics major, is finishing her first year of college. Her dad Michael Leddy teaches college English and blogs at Orange Crate Art.

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Last Updated on September 15, 2020

7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

Overcoming fear and making life changes is hard. It’s even harder when it’s a big change—breaking up with someone you love, leaving your old job, starting your own business, or hundreds of other difficult choices.

Even if it’s obvious that making a big change will be beneficial, it can be tough. Our mind wants to stay where it’s comfortable, which means doing the same things we’ve always done[1].

We worry: how do we know if we’re making the right decision? We wish we knew more. How do we make a decision without all of the necessary information?

We feel stuck. How do we get past fear and move forward with that thing we want to do?

Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are 7 things to remember when you want to move forward and make positive life changes.

1. You’ll Never Have All the Information

We often avoid making important decisions because we want more information before we make a tough call.

Yes, it’s certainly true that you need to do your research, but if you’re waiting for the crystal clear answer to come to you, then you’re going to be waiting a long time. As humans, we are curious creatures, and our need for information can be paralyzing.

Life is a series of guesses, mistakes, and revisions. Make the best decision you can at the time and continue to move forward. This also means learning to listen to and trust your intuition. Here’s how.

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2. Have the Courage to Trust Yourself

We make all sorts of excuses for not making important life changes, but the limiting belief that often underlies many of them is that we don’t trust ourselves to do the right thing.

We think that if we get into a new situation, we won’t know what to do or how to react. We’re worried that the uncharted territory of the future will be too much for us to handle.

Give yourself more credit than that.

You’ve dealt with unexpected changes before, right? And when your car got a flat tire on the way to work, how did that end up? Or when you were unexpectedly dumped?

In the end, you were fine.

Humans are amazingly adaptable, and your whole life has been helping you develop skills to face unexpected challenges.

Have enough courage to trust yourself. No matter what happens, you’ll figure out a way to make it work.

3. What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

Like jealousy, most of your fears are created in your own head.

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When you actually sit down and think about the worst case scenario, you’ll realize that there are actually very few risks that you can’t recover from.

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Once you realize the worst isn’t that bad, you’ll be ready to crush it.

When you’re preparing to make a big life change, write down all of the things you’re afraid of. Are you afraid of failing? Of looking silly? Of losing money? Of being unhappy?

Then, address each fear by writing down ways you can overcome them. For example, if you’re afraid of losing money, can you take a few months to save up a safety net?

4. It’s Just as Much About the Process as It Is About the Result

We’re so wrapped up in results when we think about major life changes. We worry that if we start out towards a big goal, then we might not make it to the finish line.

However, you’re allowed to change your mind. And failing will only help you learn what not to do next time.

Furthermore, just because you don’t reach the final goal doesn’t mean you failed. You chose the goal in the first place, but you’re allowed to alter it if you find that the goal isn’t working out the way you hoped. Failure is not a destination, and neither is success.

Enjoy the process of moving forward[2].

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5. Continue to Pursue Opportunity

If you’re on the fence about a big decision, then you might be worried about getting locked into a position that you can’t escape from.

Think about it a different way. New choices rarely limit your options.

In fact, new pursuits often open up even more opportunities. One of the best things about going after important goals with passion is that they open up chances and options that you never could have expected in the beginning.

If you pursue the interesting opportunities that arise along the path to your goal, then you can be sure that you’ll always have choices.

6. Effort Matters, So Use It

It sounds simple, but one of the big reasons we don’t make life changes is because we don’t try. And we don’t try because then it’s easy to make excuses for why we don’t get what we want.

Flunked that test? Are you stupid? “Of course I’m not stupid. I just didn’t study. I would have gotten an A if I actually studied.”

Stuck in a job you hate? Why haven’t you found a new job yet? “Well, I haven’t really tried to get a new job. I could totally ace that interview if I wanted.”

Why do we make excuses like these to ourselves? It’s because if we try and fail, then we just failed. But if we don’t try, we can chalk it up to laziness.

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Get over it. Failure happens to everyone.

And the funny thing is, if you actually try—because it’s pretty clear that most people aren’t trying—then you’ll win a lot more than you think.

7. Start With Something Manageable

You can’t climb Everest if you don’t try hiking beforehand.

Maybe applying for your dream job seems intimidating right now. What can you start with today?

Can you talk to someone who already has that position and see what they think makes them successful? Can you improve your skills so you meet one of the qualifications? Can you take a free online course to expand your resume?

Maybe you’re not quite ready for a long-term relationship, but you know you want to start dating. Could you try asking out a mutual friend? Can you go out more with friends to practice your communication skills and meet new people?

You don’t need to be a world changer today; you just need to make small life changes in your own world.

More Tips to Help You Make Life Changes

Featured photo credit: Victor Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

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