How to be The Best Version of You During College

4 Ways To Be The Best Version Of Yourself During College

A flashback to my first year of college and how to approach the college lifestyle.

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When you think of the term "college," many conclusions can come to mind. College can be your first sip of freedom to you or your time to be a legacy in your brother's fraternity or sister's sorority. It can be the time where you find out where you belong, or where you don't belong. It can be time you show everyone how intelligent you truly are. When I think of college, I think of all of these conclusions. College is the time that you find your identity and what you value. After finishing my first year at The University of Kentucky, I already found out so much about myself while still accomplishing the goals I set at the beginning of the year for myself, socially and academically. I valued my goals.

1. Treat your classes as your job

College is going to be distinct compared to any other school you have been to. It is not high school, middle school, or elementary. In most colleges, including the University of Kentucky, you are in charge of your own schedule. You pick your classes, those times that you take the classes each day, and the time you have between classes. When choosing the courses, keep in mind that these classes should be prioritized. Many students believe that if the class lecture is optional, then that means you don't have class — wrong. I would be lying if I said I did not skip a few lectures or slept in during a class. However, I would be lying if I said I did not regret it. What the professors say during lectures matters in the future almost always. One thing that helped me fight the urge to not skip class was to force myself to sit in front of the lectures when given the chance to chose my own seat. When doing this, the professors remember your face and know if you are not there or not. It also encourages me to not daydream during the lecture and to actually listen to what the professor is saying.

2. The social life is the college life

Yes, academics orbits around the idea of college. With that being said, you might want to know how to talk to people when you are in college. In every class I have been enrolled in my freshman year, I had to talk to the students around me as well as to the professors. From small group projects to public speaking, socializing helped me adapt to how to approach people more naturally. A good thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat as you. You, along with all the other students around you, are on their own. Your parents do not share a dorm with you, meaning that everyone has the same fear as you to spread their wings on campus. By being the one that is more outgoing leads to others opening up and feeling a little less afraid to talk to everyone.

A good place to start is right in your classrooms. You and your classmates all have at least one thing in common: you are all in the same class, learning the same material. Talk to some of your classmates and ask if they want to study for the next exam with you. It is that small step that can lead to more similarities between you and your classmates than just having the same class together.

3. Take a breather

So, you get a poor grade on one of your midterms or papers for one of your classes. Instead of obsessing over the grade and beating yourself up, take the time to breathe and realize that college is not all that simple. This is a time where you can be with friends and express how you're feeling and gain some feedback from them. It can be a time where you sit down and ease your mind and focus on something that calms yourself.

Look up fun things to do around town or on campus. Many colleges, such as UK, have conventions that are free for students with numerous fun and relaxing things to do, such as playing with service dogs or having a free scoop or two of ice cream. Going to events that will help your mind relax will lead you to gather your thoughts and become more motivated and encouraged.

4. Be YOU

Your college campus is a community of people that holds all different types of personalities. College is not high school. This should no longer be the time where you strive to be the most popular in the halls or the one that is in the shadows of others. This is your time to shine and to show your colors. Can you imagine college as a place where everyone was the same? It would be so lifeless. Wear whatever makes you feel like yourself. Simply, be yourself.

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Dear Mom and Dad, You Don't Understand What College Is Actually Like In The 21st Century

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that.
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College is not what you think it is. I am not sitting in a classroom for six hours listening to a professor speak about Shakespeare and the WW2.

I am not given homework assignments every night and told to hand them in next class.

I do not know my daily grade for each of the five classes I am taking, and I don't know if my professor even knows my name.

College today is a ton different than how it was 20+ years ago.

I go to class for about maybe three hours a day. Most of my time working on "college" is spent outside of the classroom. I am the one responsible for remembering my homework and when my ten-page essay is due.

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that. I am a responsible person, even if you do not think I am.

I do get up every morning and drive myself to class. I do care about my assignments, grades, my degree, and my career.

I spend a lot of time on campus having conversations with my friends and relaxing outside.

I am sick of older generations thinking that us millennials are lazy, unmotivated, and ungrateful. While I am sure there are some who take things for granted, most of us paying to get a degree actually do give a s**t about our work ethic.

Dear mom and dad, I do care about my future and I am more than just a millennial looking to just get by.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlyn Moore

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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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