Advice Highlights From 1/8th of My College Experience

Advice Highlights From 1/8th of My College Experience

If you're curious to some important lessons I've learned in college after finishing 1/8th of my path.

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Coming into college, I really didn't know what to expect. Should my expectation be high? Low? To me, going to college was just another life event waiting to happen when the time came. I didn't think much of it until I was about to move in. Towards the end of summer, I knew that I was upset about leaving my childhood and the people I loved the most. I was uncomfortable with being away from my comfort zone. I quickly reminded myself that this is just a natural part of life: growth. As much as there's truly no place like home, college has so far been the best thing that had happened to me so far. With the growth, experiences, and people, I couldn't have been happier. Hopefully, some of my "real-world" experiences will give you some insight into what college has taught me so far. I picked out a couple I thought would be worth sharing for now. Everyone's experience is and will be different, but if you take anything out of this article, it's that your college experience will be as little or as much as you make out of it. In the meanwhile, stayed tuned on more adventures and lessons I'll be having along the way :)

Freshman15 or Freshman150?

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What is Freshman15? It's rumored that freshmen will generally gain at least 15 pounds their first year in college. Everyone will have a different experience with it. Most of the time it's because people tend to rely on their parents for food and sometimes there may not be as many options in the house. But you know how when you're in a buffet and you find yourself piling up mountains of yummy foods and end up stuffing yourself? Yeah, that's college. No one will be there to help control what and how much you eat, that's on you now. You might not think you'd go to the dining hall late at night, but you will be tempted. Buy healthy snacks cause if you're surrounded by chips and the unhealthy, yummy goodness, then that's all you're going to eat! Freshman15 will hit you like a truck. If you don't want to consume unhealthy things, then don't surround yourself with them (that goes with people too). Also, experiment with dining hall food when it gets old (mix and match) and be mindful of what you buy and leave in the fridge too long...

Family

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Yes, you're off to college and it's super exciting. It's a new environment, you'll be busy meeting new people and getting used to your classes, but DON'T forget about your parents! While you're extremely occupied, your home is now either a bird short in the nest or an empty nest now. Even though you may be having an amazing time, your parents are now going to be more lonely at home now. They're not going to come home to find you studying, sitting on the couch, and they'll find an empty bed where you normally lay. There will be one less plate and one less meal to cook. Make sure to call your parents consistently every day for at least 2 weeks because maybe you're having the time of your life, but they won't be used to you being gone. As difficult of a transition it is for you, it's just as difficult for them. They're going to miss you a ton, and you will too eventually. We tend to forget that as we're growing older, so are our parents. So if you're not calling every day, be sure to call them or text them often every now and then. Don't forget about them cause I promise you, you're always on their minds.

Never say no to an opportunity to get to know someone cause you never know who they may be to you

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You're at a new stage of life and you'll come to realize that your college friends will be different from your friends at home. If you're going to a college where a lot of your current friends are going, that's awesome! But don't be so exclusive in hanging out with just them. Part of the whole college experience is branching out to meet new people and experience different relationships. It's a true introduction to the real world, it's part of the growth. The relationships you'll have are elevated since you're surrounded by people who are all hitting that same learning curve. You're going to meet a lot of people who are different from you, so take the time to get to know them and learn from them. It'll feel like you have known them forever cause chances are, you're living with and around them so you see them more often. Also, you don't need to hang out around people you don't feel like or vibe with. Nevertheless, your friends from home will always be there… at home in your heart. You don't need to talk every day to be good friends, but don't forget to check up on them every now and then, you never know if they need that extra boost. Meeting up with them over break will be so much more special too. Real friends will make time for you and the same goes for you.

Don’t feel inferior among others

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This can apply in many ways, but I'll talk about in terms of how to figure things out and how to approach upperclassmen or professors. First, as much as you may not know how things work, the next person could be even more lost. Don't be afraid to ask for help because it will take a lot longer in trying to figure out something you have no sense of direction in. No one will belittle you, you're just learning and taking responsibility. Next, if you approach experiences and people with your chin held high and one step at a time, you'll be perfectly fine. If you're interacting with others, especially if they're older, remember that you have your own set of unique skills and characteristics, so approach them with confidence. I'd like to think that age doesn't necessarily correlate to how mature someone may be or how strong of a relationship you can build. It's just about experiences, trial and error, and just learning about your surrounding as you go. In fact, as you grow older, you'll realize that no one always knows what the heck is going on all the time. Rest assured, everyone is lost, some just fake it to make it better than others till they actually figure it out.

Your room (and surroundings) get dirty faster than you think it does

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Okay, seriously, try to keep your room clean. Yes, you'll get super busy and end up throwing things all over the place and not have time to clean up here and there, but really deep clean (vacuum, wash your clothes/bed sheets, organize your belongings, etc.) at least once a week. But if you put things where they belong and straighten up your things as you go, you won't have to spend a chunk of time later to clean up! Also, be mindful in what shoes you're wearing as you're frolicking in your room. Do you want squirrel poop in your room? Do you want everything that's outside your dorm to be in it? Then take your shoes off, wear sandals, or at least wipe down your room every now and then. Other people can be pretty nasty too, don't be one of them. No one is cleaning after you now, respect your roommate and your community, and clean up after yourselves. You're an adult now (surprise). If you're a girl, please pick up your hair, especially from the shower drains. All in all, you're living and breathing your room. You don't want to get sick...

...when you do get sick

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Take care of yourself. Personally, I'd let my body recover as much as it can before I resort to medicine in a worst-case scenario. As a tired, stressed-out college student that's constantly surrounded by a bunch of us nasty people, you're probably gonna get sick pretty often your first semester here. Wash your hands, take a shower, HYDRATE, and SLEEP. But also, don't be afraid to take medicine when you really need it. Your energy level will dip when you're sick, top that with school work, and it could really break you sometimes. Take it easy. You need to get better first before tackling your courses and participate in your extracurriculars. It really is okay to drop your books and sleep at 9 p.m., trust me, your body will thank you for that.

Go out

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Experiment and explore, let loose so you can release before getting back to hard work. Go out on Friday and Saturday nights. Attend those events held by your school or around your college town, they're tons of fun! Try local restaurants, go to a game, or attend a party. As nice as it may seem to stay in all weekend and not do anything, keep in mind that you'll make some of the most memorable moments going out, meeting new people, and just having fun with your friends. Take study breaks, you'll burn out if all you're doing is shoving your nose into a book. At the end of the day, stay in or go out, make the best out of where you are and who you're around. DON'T feel pressured to drink, contrary to what most people tell you that do drink, you really don't have to in order to have fun. Remember, it's not always about what you're doing necessarily, it's about who you're with. With the right people, you'll always have fun.

You need some sort of structure

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If you didn't study in high school and you got by, I have news for you: It doesn't work in college. You really have to figure out how to prioritize your time. It's so important to dive into clubs and extracurriculars! Aside from the people you're living with, that's where your friends will be from. There are about a million organizations on campus. As tempting as it is to want to do everything, you just won't have the time to balance it all. Go out and explore what there is! Step out of your comfort zone and see what else may appeal to you. Don't bite more than you can chew. A good amount of clubs or organizations to be in would be around 2 or 3 at MAX. Adjust to college life your first semester before adding more on your plate. Get a planner or use Google Calendar to make your schedules ahead of time, you're less likely to forget something and it'll give you an easier time. Know when all your tests and quizzes are, study your syllabus, and be on top of your assignments! Set a routine and stick with it. Remember, academics comes first so be sure you're prioritizing that. That way, when you do have fun, you don't always have to have an assignment or your grades linger in the back of your mind. Next, the professors are not here to spoon feed you information to prepare you for the tests, a lot of that is on your own time. They won't remind you every two seconds over what's due, so you have to be disciplined enough to keep up with it. Lastly, sleep is so so so important, if you're not getting enough, you're going to fall into a devastating cycle. Stay consistent. You're not going to remember anything after 1 a.m., so might as well go to bed.

Get help

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It's okay to ask people for help, especially for school. Your professors really care about you, build a good relationship with them. They're really great and interesting people if you take the time to get to know them during office hours and after asking some questions after class. There are so many amazing resources in college for tutoring, exploring career options, and for any mental or physical needs. Do not be afraid to seek out other people for something you need. People will help provide the support you may need, so please don't hesitate.

Not knowing what to do in life

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It is 100% okay to not know what you want to do in the future. Plenty of people change their majors in college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, "About 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once… On average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career." College is the prime time to explore. Other people may be absolutely sure they want to do business or pre-med, but even if you are absolutely certain or not sure at all, keep an open mind. Take the opportunity to explore peaking interests, talk to professors, people in and out your major, and those in a variety of professions to get more of a feel of what you are interested in. You don't want to be that person who realized that medical school really wasn't for you as you're going through the interview process and spent all of undergrad focused on science when you suppress your desire to possibly try something new. But even if that person is you, it's never too late to learn. Keep an open mind. Success has no timeline, so whatever track you're on… it's the right one.

You’ll be so much happier in college

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You're going to hit a learning curve and learn how to adapt. A friend of mine who graduated this semester told me that as much as college is about education, it's also about the whole experience altogether. As cheesy as it sounds, he said that "there are big ships and small ships, fast ships and slow ships, but the best ships are friendships." You're in a period of self-discovery, you are able to choose who you want to hang around, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn and have fun. Definitely make the most out of it because college is what you make out of it. If you want to make friends and have great times, you're going to have to actively seek out those opportunities. People and opportunities will not always naturally come to you. Branching out is so important, it's an important part of growth, and that's part of the whole college experience. You can't expect to make friends and have fun if you stay in your dorm all day or for every weekend. Be involved, that's the only way you'll begin to have some exposure to campus.

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An Open Pat On The Back To Full-Time Students Who Also Work

You really deserve an award, but this article will have to do.
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It's pretty freaking hard.

“I can work nights and weekends, I'm a student," you told the manager during your interview.

So, what does he do? He schedules you most nights and weekends. This is OK. This is, after all, what you asked for. So you start working.

Class, class, work. Class, work. Class, no work tonight, you sleep and it feels like the first time in years. Class, homework, homework, homework. Class, class, work.

Before you know it, it's the weekend. There's a party. Your friend wants to see you. Your mom is calling you to see how you are.

But you are working all weekend.

You call your mom on your half hour break. She tells you are doing too much. She tells you that you should work less. Ask for less hours. Sleep more. Eat more. You will get sick.

You get out of work Friday night around 11 p.m. There is still so much night left!! You try to hit up that party. Sure, you will show up a little late, but at least you will make an appearance. At least you will get to see some of your friends. At least you will be able to relax and enjoy yourself. At least you will be able to have some fun. By the time you get ready and get there, people begin leaving. You begin to wonder why you came out in the first place.

“I'm sorry, I've been at work" becomes an all-too-familiar phrase.

But, but, but.

You really deserve a pat on the back, so here it is.

You've given up a lot. And you work crazy hard. Those long nights and hours are hard. A lot of kids your age don't work and rely solely on your parents. But you, you have taken it upon yourself to earn some money for yourself. You are a full-time student, and most of your free time goes toward working and supporting yourself.

You truly do not get the appreciation that you deserve.

But when you do get some time to go out, when you request a weekend off, you have some money to spend. You are never the guy who can't go out because they don't have enough money.

And of course, you will start saving. This is huge. You're going to graduate in debt (probably), and because you busted your butt during school and saved up, putting a crack in that debt will be a little easier for you.

You are a forward thinker, whether you realize it or not.

You are building responsibility, money management, and self-reliance skills, whether you realize it or not.

You are quite mature for your age, whether you realize it or not.

AND YOU deserve a pat on the back. So here it is.

You're incredible. You're amazing. Go get 'em.

Seriously, take a second to congratulate yourself for all your hard work.

And whatever you do, get some sleep, kid. And remember, don't work yourself too hard. Just hard enough so that you feel good, and rewarded, and happy.

You're the man. Keep killin' it, dude. Keep killin' it.

Cover Image Credit: Peter Bernik/123rf Stock Photo

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5 Questions You Shouldn't Ask An Art Major

You definitely should never ask or say these five questions unless you want to trigger an art major.

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Listen, being an art major isn't all fun and games. We work for long hours on our projects. We get paint all over our clothes. We accidentally cut ourselves with our x-acto knives. We run out of paper to print the night before a big project.

We get critiqued in front of all your peers by your professors. Well maybe those things don't happen to all of us but they sure have happened to me. Non-art majors swear being an art major is the easiest thing in the entire world but they just don't understand what it is really like.

1. "All you do is art and crafts, how hard can it be?"

If it was all just art and crafts, do you think I would complain about the harsh critiques I get from my professors and the late nights on my laptop finishing my final portfolio. Being an art major isn't making the stuff that you pin on your art and crafts board on Pinterest. I'm not saying that isn't art but that's not the type of stuff we create. We create art that makes us think, makes a statement, shows emotion, etc.

2. "What are you going to do with that?"

This question triggers every college student so why do you think it's going to be different for an art major. You hate it every holiday season when your family members ask you that same question about your degree so stop asking us. We are obviously going to become an artist in our field that we specialize in just like you will in your career and degree field.

3. "Will you do it for free?"

As a photographer, many of my friends ask me to do photoshoots for them, their organization that they participate in, and other stuff. Almost every single time, they never ask me if I want them to pay nor do I expect them to ask me at this point.

It would be nice if they thought about the time I take out of my day to take the photos and edit the photos. Of course I will always do it for them cause I love my friends to death but the thought would mean a lot.

4. "You know you aren't going to have any money, right?"

Well yes I obviously know I'm not going to be making 100K a year for selling my art. If I wanted to make big money, I would doing some boring job in a small cubicle doing accounting or something like that. I'm doing this career path that I don't care how much money I make because I love it and have a real passion for.

5. "Why aren't you dressed more like an art major?"

First of all, what does an art major even dress like? I guess people expect us to all dress like that cool and alternative trendy hipster. Some of us dress really cute. Some of us dress really weird.

Some of us of dress in sweats. We dress just like every other college student. Sometimes I even wish I could dress like a cool and alternative trendy hipster but we don't have to dress like that just to be an art major.

Despite all the stereotypes given to art majors, I really do love being an art major. I love the long hours of taking, developing, and editing photos. It is one of the best decision I have ever made and wouldn't trade it for the world. Can we please stop with these questions though? They really get annoying after a while when everyone asks us the same things. So next time you start to question an art major, just don't ask.

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