Wednesday, June 4, 2014

10 Things I Learned From My Freshman Year In College

1. It's okay to say "no."
This is something that I've had trouble with quite a lot throughout school (high school and college).  I try to satisfy everyone, and I end up committing to more than I can handle.  People will usually understand that sometimes, you just don't have the time.

2. It's okay to change your major.  And your mind.
They say that the average undergrad changes their major 4 times during their college career.  I (probably) won't be changing it again, since I'm very happy with my decision to change, but even if you change your mind 4 times, it's going to be okay.  I switched from bioengineering (no bio, go figure) to microbiology so that I could pursue my passion for biological sciences, and it was a really difficult decision, but it ended up being one of the best decisions I've made during college.

3. Not going out does not make you old or a square.  Or an old square.
I've only been "out" twice this entire year, with my friends.  A lot of my peers go out frequently, sometimes every weekend night.  Props to you if that's your thang and all, but I choose not to partake.  And it's okay.  I prefer to drink some tea, catch up on my favorite blogs, watch 3 episodes of Gilmore Girls, and go to bed at 11:00.  Mostly, I just don't feel like it.  And that's perfectly fine.  No one will judge you (and if they do, you need better friends).

4. It's (sometimes) okay to eat pasta 3 nights in a row.
Not healthy, but okay.  Sometimes that's all you have the energy to cook, and it just tastes so darn good.  Pasta is probably one of my all-time favorite foods.  Just eat a salad and some fruit the next day and try not to feel too guilty.  Still, you should probably learn how to cook real food.

5. It's okay to skip a workout.
I didn't work out until the end of winter term.  I'm a lot better about going to the gym now, but there are some days when I'm just not feelin' the vibe.  It's better not to, but if you don't go one day (or two), forgiving yourself and moving forward is the best thing to do.  Everyone needs a break.

6. Occasionally not going to class is acceptable (gasp).
Is college expensive?  Ridiculously so.  Should you be trying to go to all of your classes?  Obviously.  But when you've stayed up until 3am finishing a paper (even though you know you should've started it sooner, but you didn't), sleeping in your 8am class isn't doing you any more good than sleeping at home through your 8am class.  Or if you're just having one of those days where you just can't deal, skipping Health isn't going to drop your GPA, and your mental and emotional health will be all the better for it.  Side note: make friends the first week so when this happens, you and said friend can be note-swapping buddies.  As long as they take good notes.

7. Naps are good.
Become a master of the 20-minute power nap, and it will change your life.  A word of caution: lying down for hours at a time is incredibly damaging to your physical, mental, and emotional health, so one short nap per day should be the limit.  Otherwise, it could become a serious problem.

8. It is NOT okay, however, to sleep through your life.  The purpose of college is to get your degree (in my opinion, college is not about "finding yourself"- it's way too expensive.  It will probably happen by degrees (punny!), but that's not the whole point); however, life, especially careers, is largely about who you know.  My current employment story is a testament to that!  If you never leave your room, you will never meet people or have meaningful experiences, and you will end up being rather lonely and sheltered (and boring).  Despite the prevalence of technology in our society, you should not live your life online.

9. Don't rest on your laurels.
This is a huge no-no.  I was valedictorian in high school without much effort.  I had a small graduating class, and classes were at least 85% participation/homework based.  So if you showed up, raised your hand once or twice, and did most of your homework, you were likely to get a pretty good grade.  Because of this, I didn't really know how to effectively study or manage my time.  College hit, and WHAM, big trouble.  Now, I know what works for me and what doesn't, and I've learned (the hard way) that relying on your high school knowledge to get you through the first term of general chemistry is not the way to go.  Realize that the standards and grading policies in college will challenge you.

10. Corollary: Be a better person than you were in high school.
Even if people liked you and you were a pretty nice person, try to find something you can improve upon.  Don't exclusively talk to your high school friends (but don't forget about them); let new experiences and new people shape you positively.  College is an opportunity to refashion yourself.  If people didn't like you in high school, all the more reason to examine your behaviors and attitudes and try to be better.  Open the door for someone carrying bags instead of rushing through it in front of them.  Serve others.  Make it a priority to smile and say hello to three people everyday.  Be less critical (something I'm guilty of!) of others.  They're struggling just as much as you are, and sometimes a lot more than you are.  Be better.

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