Going To College Doesn't Always Mean Leaving Home, And That's OK

Going To College Doesn't Always Mean Leaving Home, And That's OK

At the end of the day, the experience is what you make it.

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bxccann
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When I applied to college, I never really considered the school closest to me. In my mind, it was my safety school. I was admitted on-site when they visited my high school, and that was as far as the consideration went.

Growing up so close to the school, I became desensitized to the fact it was an actual university. A fair majority of my peers ended up going there, so it seemed like a repeat of high school waiting to happen.

Instead, I longed to go somewhere that put some distance between my hometown and I. I wanted to go on my own journey of self-discovery, away from the town and house I had lived in my entire life.

Luckily enough for me, I found that journey of discovery at the school I had never given a fair chance to.

My freshman year I commuted the 20 minutes to and from school every day, but that didn't stop me from getting involved. I joined a club sport and got a job on campus. I fell in love with the team, my job, and campus. I met new people and explored the city and through the guidance of the school's academic advisors, I found the perfect major for me.

Alas, all of that didn't come without its own set of challenges. As a first-generation college student, it was tough to know what to expect. The line between high school and college was hard to walk, especially with a younger sibling still in high school. My mom still called when she thought I was out too late, and we had many conversations about how things weren't the same.

Even though it felt like I was just going through the motions like always, things were changing and I didn't really notice the subtleties.

By the end of my first semester, we had become accustomed to the changes and it wasn't as big of a deal. I came home, we talked about our days, and we all continued doing what we had to.

By the end of the second, I was able to look back on my first year and saw the moments I wouldn't have seen otherwise. I got to go home and see my family, sleep in my own bed, and cuddle on the couch with my cat at the end of the day, whether it was good or bad. I also got the chance to ease into college on my own terms rather than being in a new place where I had to learn everything.

For my second year, I decided to live in a house close to campus with teammates, and it has been a blast.

This little change also led me to take up more opportunities to get involved on campus, as well as gave me a new lens to look at my college experience. Not only that, I was able to really immerse myself and make my college experience my own.

Now, I have friends that I couldn't imagine life without. I'm still playing my sport and continuing to become more involved in my community. I still visit home when I get the chance. I still see my friends from high school when they're home. I am still discovering myself.

As for a repeat of high school, it has been anything but. At the end of the day, the experience is what you make it. I've seen people from high school around campus, even in classes, but who doesn't like seeing a familiar face every once in a while?


We often hear that hindsight is 20/20, and that is most definitely the case when I think about my experience. Who knew not going where I thought I belonged would actually lead me right to the place I do?

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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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