Having successfully survived my first year as a college student, I consider myself to be an excellent advisor on the challenges and resulting lessons that the college life is bound to present to you. Unlike the rising seniors of this year's collegiate graduating class, I was only last year recently fresh out of high school and ready to begin a university experience that would put any early 2000s university themed movie to shame.
However, there are a number of things that you simply cannot learn in a classroom and struggles that must be experienced. The moment you think you’re prepared to face these challenges is often when you are the most vulnerable. Wrapped in a shroud of ignorance you often find yourself facing situations which you never thought would present themselves, and that sometimes seem to have no plausible resolution. But once you’ve overcome such a predicament, you have now been provided a lesson that will change the way you think.
And it is in these moments that you discover the second part of college understanding: real world smarts. Couple this with the different points of view and ways of learning provided in the university classroom and you’ve got the perfect ingredients of a mature young whippersnapper.
Nothing I am going to list is revolutionary or earth shattering knowledge. That is not the point. The five lessons that college is bound to present to you are often specs of knowledge that most rational people already know. However, the importance lays in not only knowing them, but to consistently implementing these practices into your lifestyle. It is at this point, when you diligently buckle down and decide to live your life in the wisest manner, that you realize how much one year of major transition can shift your entire perspective. Here are the five street smart tips that college forces you to acknowledge, whether you like it or not:
What will be the implications of your actions? Unlike living under the sheltered wing of a parent, there will not always be someone to rescue you when you’ve gotten yourself into a sticky situation. College, and the seemingly overwhelming amount of responsibility that it entails, requires the student to prudently analyze every position, location and predicament they have gotten themselves into…especially when scholarship money is riding on suitable behavior and work ethic.
Not everyone is a friend. As a matter of fact, most of them are not. This does not mean harbor resentment, nor does it imply the need for paranoia. Simply, be aware of who you are spending your time with and how their presence is affecting your mind. Moreover, be conscious of the information that you allow others to access about your personal life, you have to spend the next four years around relatively the same people, so be aware.
Nobody likes to live in someone else’s mess. Clean up. You’d be surprised how simply tidying up immediately after a mess has been made can alleviate the stress of a "big clean." It’s not just all about getting along with the person you live with or being neat. Be considerate of a professor's time before you approach them with questions, or a space in the library when you know you can access the same resources just as comfortably in your dorm. Quite honestly, considering the needs of others when acting is a refreshing and comforting way to live.
Do It Right
The first time. Whatever it is—assignment, term paper or project—just do it right. It is so much easier to maintain a high GPA in a class than to beg a professor for extra credit at the end of the semester or go through the hassle of withdrawing from the course. When you begin a task, go in with the mindset that you will get it done in a timely and concise matter and in the most efficient way possible. This is a skill that needs to be refined, but once you have gotten the hang of “doing it right,” it becomes an increasingly beneficial habit.
You Don’t Know Everything
Michel de Montaigne penned in "The Complete Essays," “On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.” Realize that so much understanding is yet to be discovered both by yourself and those around you. Treat every single situation as an opportunity to fortify your knowledge and become a more enjoyable person. Humility is the ultimate key to a thorough comprehension of these college lessons. We are not entitled to anything, and every new and seemingly impossible dilemma that will present itself at the beginning stages of college is an opportunity to mature.