In Pursuit Of A Meaningful College Experience

In Pursuit Of A Meaningful College Experience

A valuable, personally-fulfilling college experience isn't impossible. You just have to create it for yourself.

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Every single day, without fail, while sitting through my freshman-level classes, I stifle a faint yet persistent urge to drop out of college. Winter break is in sight, but it rests on the other side of a swamp of essays and exams. At this point in the semester, running on stress and caffeine, it's easy to begin to contemplate the value of a college education. Is studying for finals worth my time? Is my statistics class worth six hundred dollars? Why have I committed to spending four more years sitting in a classroom?

In an article for the Huffington Post called "I Learned Nothing in College," Sarah Rose Attman bluntly sums up the attitude of many college students. "As I reflect on my undergraduate experience, I feel that it was a colossal waste of time," she declares. "My memories are a vague blur of hanging out with friends and cramming for exams -- forgetting all the information on my way out the door."

Furthermore, in a viral PragerU video boldly titled, "I Learned More at McDonald's Than at College," Havorford College undergraduate Olivia Legaspi explains that the skills she learned working her part-time job mean more to her than the questionable ideologies taught to her in college.

This gnawing feeling that college is not worth the time or money seems to be universal. And, as I near the end of my first semester, I catch myself agreeing. Reflecting on my college experience so far, I feel that virtually nothing taught in my freshman-level classes is relevant to personal or career success. The most valuable things I've learned in college have all taken place outside of the classroom. I've learned how to travel alone. I've networked with professional artists, musicians, and journalists. I've developed my political stances. I've navigated difficult relationships. I've learned how to live on my own, take care of my health, and manage my finances. All outside of the classroom.

Having said that, I understand how college classes can feel utterly meaningless. But, because my classes will lead to the degree that my dream career requires, college is a necessary evil. All that I can do is make the most of it.

So, to anyone else dissatisfied with their college experience so far, I offer a lesson I've learned in the past few months: You get out what you put in.

You can't count on your classes to provide you with a vast range of skills necessary to achieve personal and professional success. In my case, I need to learn how to write to become a journalist, but I can't count on my English class to publish my work, build my portfolio, and connect me with professionals. And I need to learn about politics, but I can't count on my university to give me a balanced, unbiased education or develop my beliefs for me. Those are things that I have to seek out for myself.

To scrounge up the value from your college experience, maximize your time outside of class. That "in-between" time is a valuable opportunity to pursue activities which will foster growth. Join a professional organization. Find a part-time job or internship. Participate in a club related to your career path. Start building skills and collecting experiences to equip yourself to thrive in the real world.

Yes, college can feel like a monstrous waste of time and money. Yes, universities often teach irrelevant information and questionable ideologies. But if you take control of your own time, you can create a fulfilling college experience. It's absolutely possible to get value out of college -- it just might not be in the classroom.

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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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