As I start my sixth semester as a college student, I have recently been looking back at all of the high and low points of my college experience so far. College is a big adjustment, and, even though people like to post only their best moments on social media, a lot of young adults have a very difficult time adjusting to the intense environment. Since I have now finished more than half of my college career, I wanted to share what I believe is the key to surviving and thriving in a university environment: keeping things in perspective.
Keep your classes and your grades in perspective.
I spent my first year at college desperately trying to achieve straight-As. At the time, I consistently prioritized getting high grades over fully understanding concepts. I cried over my first B and my second, and every single grade that wasn't an A for all of my freshman year. However, in an introductory course for my minor, a teaching assistant introduced my class to the concept of a "growth mindset."
A "growth mindset" is all about changing the way you think about the challenges you face. Instead of getting stuck in a fixed mindset and thinking "I'll just never be able to understand math," you can simply add a "yet" to that sentence.
"I don't understand this chapter of my math course yet."
"I'm not good at writing research papers yet."
College is all about learning. You have that potential inside of you, and it's important to let yourself fall down sometimes. The important thing after getting a bad grade is picking yourself back up and moving forward.
Keep your relationships in perspective.
A lot of people meet their forever friends in college. However, it's important to not put too much pressure on these relationships and cling to friendships that simply don't work out. I chose a college that is hours away from my hometown, and I did not know anyone when I first moved into my freshman dorm. I thought that the friends I made during my first week at school would be my forever friends—not just in college, but for the rest of my life. However, not every friendship needs to be a lifelong relationship. Some of my best friends to this day are people I met in that first week of college, but my friend group has expanded with every new class and extracurricular.
That being said, it is also important to recognize that not all friendships are meant to last forever. It felt like the end of my personal world when I realized I couldn't maintain a relationship with one of my close friends from freshman year, but that is how life works. I can look back at our friendship and be grateful for the time we spent together even though we grew apart.
Keep the timing in perspective.
Four years feels like forever when you're young. Let's be honest, you just made it out of high school, and that felt like half of your life. However, it really is true that college goes by in the blink of an eye. There were times freshman year were months would drag on, and I would simply be praying for the semester to speed up already. I promise you, those times will pass. Sooner than you'll ever realize, you'll be through the hard period and back to avoiding homework with your friends.
And before you even know it, you'll be praying you could stay more years. I can't believe how fast time has passed already.
College isn't easy. Courses are difficult, there will almost always be drama with your friends, and you may even find yourself wishing you were just out of college already. Keep things in perspective. Your grades do not define you. You can make it through that hard course. If you feel yourself losing your friends, there is a whole campus of people just waiting to get to know you. And, most importantly, it will be over before you know it, so don't spend your time wishing away these amazing years of your life.