6 Lessons I Learned During My First Semester Of College

6 Lessons I Learned During My First Semester Of College

I wouldn't trade any of them for the world.

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My first semester of college was quite the experience, to say the least. It was full of ups and downs, but most important of all, this semester was full of many lessons learned.

1. Planners are the most helpful for keeping track of what needs to be done. 

Using a planner to write down all of my important due dates and activities helped me stay accountable in college. Every time a professor would mention a due date, or I would see one online, I immediately wrote it down in my planner. My planner helped me stay organized and I always knew my responsibilities every week.

2. Taking notes in class will be worth it in the end. 

Taking notes in college is SO important. One thing I found out my first semester is that some professors don't tell you to take notes, but trust me, you still should. I took notes in all of my classes this past semester and it really helped me grasp the material more and saved me on more than one assignment. For one of my classes in particular, the exams were based on the lectures during class, so when it came time to study, I had all of the material covered from each lecture. Taking notes is important but also how you take them is important as well. Try your best to be neat and write legibly. I know taking notes can be a challenge, especially when a professor goes over a lot of information in a short amount of time, but it is totally worth it.

3. Just go to class.

This may seem like a fairly obvious tip, but for some students, it's easier said than done. I found that going to class is accomplishing half the battle in college. Most of the time, the assignments are based off lectures during class, so actually attending your classes becomes pretty important. If you can just go to class, stay focused, take some notes, and participate, then you're doing okay. Going to class adds context to what you are reading in your textbooks, so it's important to go to ask questions or just further understand what you read. Also, a lot of professors have attendance policies and you can actually lose points from your overall grade (or fail!) if you miss too many classes. So, just show up to class.

4. Stay focused. 

With attending college, most students feel more freedom and more grown up. That being said, some let this new found freedom go to their heads and end up making some mistakes. There are many distractions in college and it is really easy to allow yourself to get off track. So, when you begin the semester, try your best to stay focused on why you're there in the first place, which is to get an education. I found that a college student really needs to be self-motivated, mature, and confident to succeed in college. You have to be confident in who you are and your abilities to tackle every assignment you are given. It is important to have fun in college, but also keep in mind how attending college is a privilege and you shouldn't waste your time or money.

5. It's not all about the grades. 

I don't mean to contradict myself with my last tip, but college really isn't just about getting good grades. Success is not only measured by your academic performance. To really succeed, you should be dedicated to your work or studies, but also make time for yourself, family, and friends. When I first started college, going to class and doing my homework was literally all I thought about. Being super dedicated to school isn't bad, but a student should be involved in other things as well. After I settled down and got more comfortable in college, I joined some clubs, made more of an effort to make friends, started to hang out with said friends more, and really just started living a little more. No one can work nonstop all of the time, everyone needs some downtime or time with friends or family. So, in college, be sure to give yourself some chill time, you deserve it.

6. Being alone isn't always bad, but having friends is good too.

I went to a college where I knew absolutely no one. Everyone was a new face to me. At first, this really freaked me out. When I first started college, I didn't make it a point to really reach out to others. If someone talked to me, I would respond, but I was a little scared to talk to people first. I quickly learned I had to stop doing this. It's hard to make friends in college. Everyone is doing their own thing and focusing on themselves, which isn't a bad thing; it's just how college is. Once I figured this out, I tried talking to more people in my classes, introducing myself, and trying to make some friends. Lucky for me, it worked and I found some awesome friends. With that being said, sometimes people are just busy, so its OK to eat alone every once and a while. It's completely fine to walk by yourself to class or not hangout with friends everyday. It's great to have friends, but it's also okay to be alone sometimes too.

I can't wait to see what second semester has in store.

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30 First-Apartment Essentials College Kids Forget To Buy At Target And Later Order On Amazon

Don't wait until you need to take something out of the oven to realize that you don't have any oven mitts.

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If you're anything like I am, you're beyond excited to start planning and shopping for your first apartment. It's easy to get wrapped up in the fun stuff for your first apartment, trust me, as a former Bed Bath & Beyond employee I could spend hours wandering through shower curtains and bedding.

Before you get too carried away there are just some essential things that you'll need, but they aren't as much fun to pick out. Don't wait until you need to take something out of the oven to realize that you don't have any oven mitts, because I really don't see that ending well for you (I may or may not know that from personal experience).

1. Oven mitts

Gets those oven mitts because the sleeve of your sweater might seem like it will work, but I'm living proof that it won't, most sweaters have holes.

2. Trash bags

Don't wait until you need to throw something away to realize you don't have them.

3. Hand soap

It's not like a dorm bathroom where the maintenance staff refills a soap dispenser that's drilled into the wall. You're on your own kid.

4. Toilet paper

Again, no staff replacing it for you. Stay on top of it and make sure you always replace an empty roll, especially if you have roommates.

5. Water filter or pitcher

This one depends on whether your water is safe to drink or not, but be prepared. You don't want to move in under the summer sun only to realize you don't have any drinkable water at your snazzy new pad.

6. Tools

Hammers, screwdrivers, all that jazz. If you're moving in some furniture you're probably going to need tools to put it together.

7. Lighting

You don't want to be unpacking and stumbling around a new space in the dark your first night. Know what lighting is built in and where you might need to add some light.

8. Silverware organizer

Ok, so you probably remembered to pack the silverware, but do you really want to throw it all in a pile in a drawer? That's a good way to grab the wrong end of a knife by accident, maybe get some dividers to keep your silverware nice and sorted.

9. Dish towels

Most people think about bath towels, but if you're not used to having a kitchen you might not have thought of dish towels. You're going to need those when you're whipping up your favorite dinner.

10. Measuring cups

I'm a huge advocate for estimating and guessing in the kitchen, but if you're baking anything at all you should probably at least have some measuring utensils as a guide.

11. Bottle opener and corkscrew

You're going to want to crack open a drink and celebrate your first night in the new place. Wouldn't it be a buzzkill if you couldn't even get the drinks open?

12. Sponges

You have to be able to clean the counters and the dishes when you're done being an expert chef!

13. Paper towels

Spills happen, and you don't always want to clean them with your nice towels.

14. Toilet plunger

It's one of those things you never really think about... that is, until you need one.

15. Air freshner

You know, for after you use the toilet plunger.

16. Extension cords

You probably have a larger space than you're used to, sometimes those cords that come with all your new electronics just aren't quite long enough.

17. Utensil container

A little round pot or bucket is the perfect place to put all of your kitchen utensils. Things like spatulas and whisks will take up space in your drawers and create clutter. Plus, keeping them out makes them easier to grab when you're whipping up some food.

18. Batteries

There's nothing worse than getting your new TV all set up and realizing you can't use the remote.

19. Curtains

If you need darkness to sleep, you want to make sure you get those bedroom curtains up and ready to roll.

20. Toilet bowl brush

Sorry, but I'm certainly not reaching in there with my hands.

21. Ice cube trays

To keep you cool as a cucumber during this stressful time.

22. Can opener

Try prying a can open with your hands. I dare you.

23. Stain remover

For when you try to pry the can open with your hands and manage to spray tomato sauce all over yourself.

24. Carbon monoxide/Smoke detectors

Cause we don't want any tragedies here.

25. Collander

We both know you will be making pasta every night, so you're going to need to drain it.

26. Coasters

You definitely don't want to ruin your super fancy new Ikea table.

27. Dry erase board

No need to argue over who should take out the trash, just make sure to write down everyone's chores.

28. Underbed storage

On a college budget there's no way you can expect a walk-in closet, those clothes and shoes will have to go somewhere.

29. Drying rack

For when the dryer in your building inevitably stops working.

30. Step stool

If you're short, like me, you need a little help reaching that top shelf.

Hopefully this list has helped you feel a little more prepared to move into your first apartment. The decorating and planning is so much more enjoyable when you know you have all of your bases covered. I wish you the best of luck with your first major endeavor in the world of adulting!

Note: As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

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How To Stay Mentally Healthy In College

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

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Staying healthy in college seems really, really hard to do. Classes, friends, clubs, and the whole fact of living by yourself can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Most students, and people in general, don't really know how to deal with stress or how to take care of themselves mentally, leading to unhealthy behaviors physically and mentally. If you don't take care of your mental health, your physical health will suffer eventually. Here are a few tips and tricks to help take care of your mental health:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods will help you feel more energized and motivated. Most people associate eating a balanced diet as beneficial for your physical health, but it is just as important for your mental health.

2. Keep a journal and write in it daily

Writing can be one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving things you can do for yourself. Writing down the issues you are struggling with or the problems you are encountering in your life on a piece of paper can help you relax and take a step back from that stress.

3. Do something that brings you joy

Take some time to do something that brings you joy and happiness! It can be really easy to forget about this when you are running around with your busy schedule but make some time to do something you enjoy. Whether it be dancing, writing, coloring, or even running, make some time for yourself.

4. Give thanks

Keeping a gratitude log — writing what brings you joy and happiness — helps to keep you positively minded, which leads to you becoming mentally healthy. Try to write down three things that brought you joy or made you smile from your day.

5. Smile and laugh

Experts say that smiling and laughing help improve your mental health. Not only is it fun to laugh, but laughing also helps you burn calories! There's a reason why smiling and laughing are often associated with happiness and joyful thoughts.

6. Exercise

Staying active and doing exercises that energize your body will help release endorphins and serotonin, which both act as a natural antidepressant. Keeping an active lifestyle will help you stay happy!

7. Talk out your problems

All of us deal with stress and have problems from time to time. The easiest and probably most beneficial way to deal with this stress and anxiety is to talk it out with a close friend, family member, or even a counselor.

8. See a counselor, peer mentor, or psychologist

Just like it was stated in the previous point, it is beneficial to talk out your problems with a counselor. We all have issues, and it is OK to ask for help.

Keeping up your mental health in college can be a struggle, and it may be hard to even admit you are not mentally healthy. This is OK; you are not alone. If you want to see a psychologist or would like to learn more about mental health, there are resources. You can also take a self-assessment of your mental health. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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