Hello, everyone! My name’s Shelver, and I run Bookshelvers Anonymous. Kayla was kind enough to ask me over to talk about some general Do’s and Don’t’s for college. I can’t give my exact age (anonymity has its perks), but I can say that it hasn’t been so very long since I was a freshie on campus.
College, as with anything in life, is all about balance. Skewing too far to one extreme or the other brings nothing but trouble. Also, most issues can be solves with a little bit of common sense. But if you don’t know, you don’t know, right? There are so many things I wish I could tell younger me. Here are just a few.
That dual-enrolling thing? Totally worth it. If you’re already in college, it’s a bit late for this one, but if you’re still in high school and possible can, DUAL ENROLL! Dual-enrolling means taking college classes while still in high school. That means you’re taking college courses for free (the school and the state usually tag team to pay for things), you’re acclimating yourself to a college setting before actual college, and you’re giving yourself a little more breathing room once you actually go to college. My roommate dual-majored, dual-minored, AND changed her major at least once, and she only graduated a semester behind thanks to dual-enrollment credits.
Before leaving, figure out your non-negotiables. College is a great time to reinvent yourself. You’ll grow in crazy ways as a person over the next four years, and that’s awesome. But while you’ll need to keep an open mind about some things, peer pressure doesn’t end in high school. Be prepared to fight for your personal convictions. That can be anything from going to church to not smoking to having a regular writing schedule. Don’t let the culture shock of being dropped into a new place make you lose your grip on what’s important to you.
Mom’s not coming along, so try to learn some basic life skills. I at least knew a few things. I knew how to vacuum and dust and wash dishes and do laundry. Some kids didn’t even know that. But balancing your budget? Very important. Cooking? SUPER-important. Eating out gets really old really fast (and it’s expensive), and you don’t want to be that kid who causes the 2 AM fire drill. Hint: Metal does not belong in the microwave, and if you’re going to heat up pizza in the oven, take it out of the box.
Realize you’re not the smartest kid in the class anymore. Shocking, I know! But even dual-enrolling won’t prepare you for the insanity that is your first semester. No one cares about your high school GPA. No one cares if you were valedictorian and head of a bajillion clubs. This is not high school. You are a little fish in a big, big pond. There will always be someone smarter than you. Odds are you will sink like a rock your first semester, and that’s okay. Go to the tutoring center. Join a study group. Talk to your freaking professor! Oh my gosh, please talk to your professor. They don’t mind, I promise. Do what you gotta do, keep your head up, adjust your study habits if necessary, and you’ll be fine.
Be responsible and plan ahead. Calendars and planners are your friends. If you don’t write down everything from your syllabi, you will forget things, I guarantee it. Write it all down! Professors and faculty are not there to babysit you; if you forget something, it’s your fault. Also, study skills are key. Self-motivation, self-direction, time management, and killer note-taking skills will help you keep your head above water.
That said, it’s okay to skip a class every once in a while. The deeper you get into your major, the tighter your schedule will feel. Sometimes you’ll have to skip class just so you can catch up on work for another class. And sometimes you’ll skip class because you want to go down to the butterfly gardens and take pictures. You’ll learn quickly which classes you can skip and which ones you can’t. (Never ever EVER skip Spanish class. Bad idea.)
Don’t freak out about getting a random roommate. Everyone’s heard stories about being paired up with a sex-crazed, inconsiderate slob, but most roommates are just normal people like you. Be smart and communicate with them beforehand (stalking their Facebook page for clues to their personality is totally permissible), but try to relax. Just know that you’ll likely have different living ideals and different styles of communication. Keep an open line to respectfully discuss issues as they come up and stay calm.
Expect to feel homesick. Being homesick is normal, especially since this is probably your first time living away from home. It’s okay. Feeling blue for your parents and your old room and your old bed doesn’t make you any less of an adult. Odds are your roommate is feeling the exact same thing, even if she hides it better than you. But don’t forget to wean yourself off those daily phone calls after a bit. Calling home every single day outside of the first month or so? Not okay. As the snarky meerkat says, “You gotta put your past behind you.” Look ahead and keep chugging forward.
Take that free kickboxing class. Colleges offer all kinds of incentives to attract students. Free gym classes, free hobby classes, free this, free that. My university offered free kickboxing classes, and I’ll forever regret not doing it. Oh, but putting aside my aversion to sports to attend football games? TOTALLY WORTH IT! The point is that college is the time to try out new hobbies and activities. Don’t stay shut up in your dorm room. Take advantage of all you’re being offered. Go out and have fun!
Study abroad. Just do it. I know money is tight and the scholarships don’t spread as far as they should, but find a way to make it work. You’ll be dead-broke once you get home, but the memories and experiences will follow you and shape you for the rest of your life. Raise the funds and just GO. (Oh, and visiting the place where they filmed Pride & Prejudice? Amaaaazing!)
Enjoy college while you can. All those silly old people telling you that this is the best time of your life? They’re right. All those times during Finals Week when you want to sulk on the floor of the pantry and eat Cheerios? They’re worth it. I know life feels overwhelming with all the exams and papers and commitments, but you will never be as free time-wise as you are now. Read! Write! Go for long walks! Take naps in between classes in the grass outside the library. No, seriously, you’ll get some of your best naps there.
To all of you out there reading, whether you’re in college now or will be someday, don’t worry. Everything will work itself out. I made it, and so can you. I know I didn’t cover half of the questions you may have (chances are Kayla will cover them in the rest of the series), but feel free to ask in the comments section. Also, come by and visit me at Bookshelvers Anonymous. We have tons of fun.
Thanks for having me, Kayla!
- Did you guys enjoy Shelver’s post? I know I did! Thanks so much Shelver for participating in College Experience Week. I really enjoyed reading your post! I definitely will make a point to Study Abroad. Be sure to leave comments letting Shelver know what you thought.
UP TOMORROW: Giveaway and I will be talking about Blogging and Going to college at the same time.