ally's declassified college survival guide
Okay, I know that is a very unoriginal title but it made me chuckle. If you’ve never seen Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, you’re for sure missing out. This was my CHILDHOOD.
For those of you who hold this show near and dear to your heart like I do, you’ll love this post. Well, really it’s a post for all college students or soon-to-be college students. Yes, I know, I’m soooo predictable, another post about college, blah blah blah. The truth is, college has been one of the hardest experiences for me so I’m always looking for ways to save fellow students from the disasters I got myself into.
And didn’t you know? I’m a badass sophomore now, so I know basically everything there is to know about living the college life. *sarcasm*
Here is a pretty extensive list of my best pieces of advice. This is what me and my friends have collected so far, but we have a long ways to go…
If you’re gonna sacrifice sleep, only do it once a week. If you push it past that, all of a sudden it’s been 4 nights in a row of about 5 hours and a human just can’t function like that. I personally think it’s better to pull an all-nighter one night then to only sleep 4-6 hours consistently.
Always expect to meet someone new. I feel like people think that you have to go to parties every weekend to meet anyone, at least as a first-year. I’m not discounting that method, but I’ve met some of my closest friends at the most random times and places around campus.
Use the dining hall as often as you can. I’m not too good about this, especially now living off campus. But, seriously, not only do you just use swipes to get in (rather than dropping $30 for some sick sushi… true story) but it’s also a great way to sit with new people and make new friends.
Take advantage of being surrounded by people that are pretty different than you. People give colleges a bad rap for their lack of diversity but in reality, even if the statistics don’t show it, college is hand picked of totally different humans. Always be open to meet anyone.
Befriend someone with a car on campus. This seems self explanatory but it can DRASTICALLY change your experience if you don’t live in a city school with great public transportation.
Communicate with your parents! Now you get to have the best part of the parent-child relationship… you don’t have to live together but still have them as your go-to’s.
Don’t study in the same place 24/7. You’ll get too comfortable and forget how to do work. Also, when you explore a bit and find this amazing hidden place to do work, it can be nearly a transcendent experience. Have I mentioned I’m a nerd?
Get used to not knowing what each day will bring. That was a hard adjustment for me, all of a sudden it became virtually useless to plan my days in advance. Leave some open space to just do whatever you feel like doing. College is all about freedom!
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not a big college party fan. Every now and then they’re not bad, but I’ve never really loved going to parties in college. Usually they’re just sweaty, crowded, and people forgetting you guys had a conversation the next day. If you do like them, you do you.
Never get too mad at anybody. This is the time in your life where you’ve gotta learn to take people for who they are; you hit college and there’s definitely still some growing to do, but you will pretty much be you for the rest of your life. Remember that about other people and accept that you’re not going to get along with everyone and not everyone will get along with you.
Make an effort to get to know your professors. This can be really difficult at wicked big schools but it’s so worth the effort. As soon as you can have a conversation with them, they know you better and start seeing you as more than a name on a paper that they’re gonna grade. If they think you’re a good person and you screw something up on an assignment, they might just give you the benefit of the doubt.
If you’re struggling, let yourself struggle. You don’t have to transition into college perfectly, choose your major easily, or meet people easily. Or there could be “no reason” for you to struggle and it could still be hard. Accept the struggle and find someone to talk to about it.
Take random-ass classes just for the heck of it. That’s been my favorite part of college. I make it a point to take classes that I don’t intend on majoring/minoring in but I find them really interesting. Unless you’re at a vocational school, college is about exploring and expanding how you think about things. So, take that philosophy class. Take that religious studies class all about sex (yes, I’m currently in this). I’d WAY rather take classes I find interesting and engaging than take some boring, easy classes that fulfill requirements. On that note…
Find a healthy balance of worrying about grades and realizing that they’re not nearly as important as your experience. I’m currently in Symbolic Logic (technically a philosophy class but it’s puzzles with symbols--also fulfills that Math gen ed!) and I weirdly love it. Am I doing super well? Nah. But I actually really like the class and the subject. So, I’m not stressing too much.
Give yourself AT LEAST a week to write any paper. Last week I made the mistake of giving myself about 36 hours to write a 7-page paper. Did I spend about 12 hours straight working on it? Hell yeah I did. Did I want to punch myself in the face? Absolutely.
Devote a weekend night each month to going off campus and into the city/town that surrounds your college. You don’t want to save all of your exploring for senior year or else you’ll be pissed at underclassman you.
Look up cool events/performances that your college is hosting and actually go to them. I went and saw one of my favorite pianists last year--alone, I might add, because who would want to go to a piano concert--and it was awesome.
Don’t spend all of college in a relationship. Not that you should just break up with someone because you’re now in college, not a fan of that, but I think it’s foolish to not have at least a year to yourself. You gotta figure your shit out on your own at some point, trust me.
Live how you want to, leave the rest of the bullshit behind. You’re at a time in your life where you’ve gotta learn to make decisions for yourself. Don’t do you at the expense of someone else, but know that you always have a choice in things. Nothing is ever fully out of your control.
Let go of high school. It might have been amazing for you, could have been terrible. The point is, it doesn’t matter anymore. Depend on yourself. Work everyday to be the person you admire. Everything else that used to worry you will just fall away from there. I promise.
That’s all the wisdom I’ve got at the moment. Hope at least some of this is assuring!