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7 Things They Don’t Tell You About College Life

7 Things They Don’t Tell You About College Life

College is more than studying to get a diploma. Readings, homework, and requirements are only half the battle. There are things that you need to know about college that even college professors won’t teach you. Get a leg up with seven things no one told you about college life. Amidst all the college rankings that you are obliged to check in order to set your priorities or the impending tuition fees that you need to know in order to save money, there are other things you need to know about college, so be prepared.

1. You should be aware that BFFs will not be formed overnight

All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you are eager to make friends. Some people you meet will only be classmates, acquaintances, or report partners. Finding your close-knit group in college takes a bit of trial and error. Join student organizations and interest clubs, attend a few parties, and enjoy the variety of people you’ll meet along the way.

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2. You have to get to know your professors well

Professors can make or break you, so don’t stay in the dark. Check out student forums for professor guidelines and tips. Build a professional relationship with your professors. Showing professors a good work ethic can even land you a job referral in the future.

3. You should be creative, books are expensive

A study reveals that every year, the average American college student spends up to $1,200 on books and supplies alone. Save some money on books. Borrow from the library, visit a second-hand bookstore, ask friends to lend you a copy, ask your professor if he/she has a spare book you can use, rent a digital copy, or shop online for used textbooks.

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4. You have to figure it out, “required” reading can be optional

This is entirely on a case-by-case basis that you need to figure out. Generally, professors will discuss the most important points of the text in class. When you pay attention to lectures and diligently take notes, you can get away with just skimming your readings before exams.

5. You MAY skip some classes – but in moderation

College students skip classes. If you don’t plan to, good on you. But if you do, skip classes wisely. Some professors do not tolerate absences, some professors do not notice. Whether your reasons are scholarly, or otherwise, just make sure you won’t get caught.

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6. Sometimes you need to isolate yourself to get things done

Distractions are everywhere. When you have a paper due in a few hours, isolation is your best bet at finishing on time. If you have references online, download them and turn off your WiFi connection. Stay in a library instead of your dorm, so you’re not tempted to take a nap.

7. You need to get enough sleep, and health is a priority.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, 50% of college students report daytime sleepiness and 70% attain insufficient sleep. Loss of sleep can mean a lower GPA, inability to concentrate, and may even cause mood swings. Drinking coffee or energy drinks to pull that all-nighter only promotes that vicious cycle. If you can’t avoid staying up, consider taking a nap. Daytime naps may offer a potential remedy that may also help academic performance.  When you’re up to your neck in coursework, it’s easy to neglect your own health and well-being. Getting sick means missing your classes, catching up with assignments, and if you missed an exam, rescheduling with your professor. No one will take care of you but yourself. Drink vitamins. Ditch the junk food. Get some exercise. Take time to relax. There will be moments when you feel like giving up. You will question if college was the right decision or if there is a point in crossing the finish line. With college dropouts like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg still finding success, leaving without a diploma doesn’t sound bad, right? However, the Pew Research Center’s report on The Rising Cost of Not Going to College, states that “on virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education.” Beyond financial matters, studies also suggest that college graduates live longer and healthier lives, have stable marriages, and produce healthy children. Most graduates say their college education helped them to grow intellectually, mature as a person, and prepared them for a career and adulthood.

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Featured photo credit: Scensiblesbags via scensiblesbags.com

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Last Updated on September 17, 2020

5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

There’s nothing quite like a state of “flow” when you’re working. The rare moments when your inspiration aligns with your motivation likely lead to some of your most creative work. Plus, it feels great to actually check a task or project off the list so you can move on to the next thing. Meanwhile, a mental block — its opposite — can cause work to feel laborious and uninspired. Forget creativity when you have a mental block — it makes it difficult even to start working on what you need to do.

A mental block can manifest in several ways. Perhaps your imposter syndrome is squelching your creative ideas, for instance, or you’re overwhelmed by the breadth of a project and its impending deadline. Maybe you’re just tired or stressed.

Either way, having a mental block feels like being trapped in your own head, and it can seriously dampen your ability to think outside the box. The problem is, you’re so locked into your own perspective that you don’t see more innovative approaches to your problems.[1]

Luckily, jumping over these mental hurdles is simpler than you think. You just need the right strategies to get your flow back.

Try these five practical ways to overcome a mental block.

1. Break Your Project Down

A few years ago, I was working on changing a company product that I believed would hugely benefit our customers. Sounds great, right?

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As inspired as I was to make people’s lives easier, though, the sheer magnitude of the task at hand felt overwhelming. Every morning, I cracked open my laptop to work and felt totally paralyzed. I loved the idea, yes, but actualizing it felt risky. What if it didn’t turn out the way I pictured in my mind? More importantly, where would I even begin?

A former colleague gave me great advice over coffee:

Change how you think. Start by breaking the big project down into small tasks.

When a major project overwhelms you, you only see the entire forest instead of the individual trees. And as you stare it down, you start to feel discouraged by your own lack of progress, thus slowing you down further.

Breaking down a massive task into smaller chunks makes the work feel more manageable. You’ll have multiple clear places to start and end with, which will lend a motivating sense of productivity and mastery to your process. Learn more about it here: The Motivation Flowchart: The Mental Process of Successful People

Think of it as accumulating small wins. When you realize you’re more capable than you have once thought, you’ll develop the momentum and confidence needed to get your big job done little by little.[2]

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2. Change Up Your Scenery

Of course, there’s a time and place for sitting down to get things done. But if you’re experiencing a mental block, switching up your surroundings can make a big difference in your output.

Have you ever noticed how your environment directly impacts your performance and mood?

Your brain associates your physical surroundings with certain feelings and activities. So, if you feel mentally stuck, your mind may need some new sensory stimuli.

During this time in your life, it may not be possible to set up shop at a cafe or move from your cubicle to a conference room, so you may need to think outside the box. If you’re working remotely in a home office, try going to your dining table or couch. If the weather cooperates, sit outside for a bit with your computer or take a walk around the block.

You can also simply rearrange your workspace. Not sure where to begin? Try decluttering. Some studies show that an organized desk enhances productivity.[3]

The point is to stimulate your brain with new sounds and sights. You may find a much-needed dose of inspiration when you work while breathing in the fresh air, listening to city sounds, or staying in the comfort of your own living space.

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3. Do an Unrelated Activity

When it comes to productivity, a bit of distraction isn’t always a bad thing. That’s especially true if your chosen distraction helps you get things done in the long run.

Have you realized how your most creative thoughts tend to bubble up when you’re, say, lying in bed or taking a shower? In their research of the “incubation period,” scientists have discovered that people’s best ideas seem to surface when they aren’t actively trying to solve a problem.[4]

In a 2010 study, participants needed to look for a roommate or new employee based on the profiles that the researchers gave. The people who had a brief “incubation period” — in this case, working on an anagram — consistently made better choices than those who spent more time weighing their options.

If you can’t seem to prime your brain for a project, try doing something completely unrelated to work, such as washing your dishes, working out, or calling a friend. Some experts say finding another low-stake project to work on can help jump-start the creative part of your brain and activate your flow.[5]

The key is to allow your unconscious mind to do its best work: eliciting the new knowledge your conscious mind may be ignoring or suppressing.[6]

4. Be Physical

Feeling antsy? When your mind won’t seem to settle into a state of flow, it may help to swap out your mental activity for a physical one and see how it impacts your perspective.

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While any physical activity is beneficial for your body — and getting up to move can serve as a helpful form of distraction — certain forms of exercise can more directly impact the mind. To be specific, relaxing, flow-based exercises like dance, yoga, or tai chi can create a gentle sense of momentum in your body, which can prime your brain for the same state.

Stress-reducing activities may also be necessary. Meditating or taking slow, deep breaths will also calm your nervous system if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Evidence shows that the logical, creative part of your brain essentially shuts off when you’re stressed.[7]

On the flip side, when your mind and body are relaxed, you can think more clearly, be more creative, and focus for longer periods — all of which will help you overcome a mental block.

5. Don’t Force It

It can be frustrating to fight against your own mind. If your mental block won’t go away after some effort, it may be time to take a break. Forcing creative thoughts only adds to your stress levels, which in turn inhibits your ability to think creatively. And if you sit and stare at a project for too long, you’ll not only waste valuable time but also begin to associate this specific work with frustration and produce work you’re not proud of.

“I know that forcing something is not going to create anything beyond mediocre, so I step aside and work on a different project until it hits me,” the artist Ben Skinner said about his creative process.[8]

If your work isn’t time-sensitive, then it may make sense to step away for a while to focus on something else, be it an administrative task that requires less creativity or a project that you feel motivated to work on.

When the time is right, you’ll find your way back to the original task with a fresh, creative perspective (hopefully).

More on Getting Rid of a Mental Block

Featured photo credit: Jonas Leupe via unsplash.com

Reference

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