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Understanding the college experience

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By Nia Sanders

Web Editor

[email protected]

Apri 28, 2015

The college experience becomes a reality for most students once they step on campus. They see it on television, movies constantly exploit it, and students broadcast it on social media.

These cookie-cutter depictions of college are arbitrary because college is a culture shock for most incoming students. Think about it: people are always reflecting on what they could have done differently in college.

The best way to make a smooth transition into college is to start on the right foot.

“You can think of college as an incubation period, where you develop your skills and character” Quora user Ching Ho wrote in a post. “You are likely never going to have as many resources, like-minded peers, free hours, and opportunities as you do in college again- so use them wisely.”

Each person’s experience in college is distinctively their own. It is pretty easy to dabble into too much or suffer from dorm room fever, but there are ways to create a medium. Students will definitely say that creating a balance is easier said than done, but this is a skill one acquires and develop over the course of four years.

One must manage his or her time. It sounds cliché, but life is a lot more relieving when one is conscious of what they can do in a day. Some of the common tips include writing down tasks, planning ahead, scheduling in time to relax and sleep, and the list goes on. The point is to set realistic expectations for yourself in order to remain satisfied and sane in college.

College is a journey for everyone, and it can get stressful. For instance, a picture circulated on Facebook a couple of years ago titled “Choose Two: social life, good grades and/or enough sleep.”

Stress comes with the territory. One should ease it by participating in activities that will keep him/her levelheaded like getting enough sleep, reaching out to others, or relieving tactics. It will leave someone with a more fulfilling experience knowing that he or she is able to take care of themself.

Academic life in college is different from academic life in high school in that one has control over what courses he or she wants to take. Choose classes wisely and carefully. These are classes that one should enjoy and will help them complete their major or minor.

Succeeding academically is a two-way street (and some would say three-way street). Take classes with good professors. Pick their brain and see what they expect out of students. Likewise, have a helpful advisor that will keep one’s education in good standing.

Students should avoid procrastination and all-nighters as much as possible by mapping out the work they have to do. I have heard too many horror stories about people staying an extra year or extra semester because they need to complete their credits. Schedule courses each semester in a way that will set up graduation by the time senior year rolls around.

College life does not fizzle once people leave the classroom. Interact with people. It is refreshing to know that students can leave high school in the past and start off with a clean slate: they should take advantage of it. This means student need to step out of their comfort zone and their dorm room.

There are plenty of people to meet in college and tons of ways to meet them. Eat with friends, talk to people in your hall, go to parties, attend events, take on internships, or study abroad.

Most importantly, join clubs and organizations. They put blocks in peoples’ time for things that they are interested in. Organizational sociologist Daniel F. Chambliss at Hamilton College made a similar point in a New York Times piece.

“Most people don’t make their friends in classes. It helps to join a large high-contact activity, like a sports team or choir, where people see each other at least twice a week.”

The list of clubs on campus that one can join is endless, plus one’s chances of finding more than one organization that matches their interests are pretty high.

Remember that students have four years to figure college out. The sooner they start, the better. It comes down to dedication and patience, which are probably the last two words that students want to hear, but will help guide them in the right direction towards a fulfilling college experience.

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