How to Survive College. Or rather, how to remain sane.

I just google searched how to survive college:

1. Try not to schedule back to back classes.

2. Never procrastinate in your study and reading assignments.

3. Step away from Facebook. (Click here to see the helpful picture that coincides with Seventeen magazine’s Tip #7. And the rest of their helpful photographs that truthfully depict what it might look like to struggle in college.)

I found some other not very helpful or realistic hints, too. How can you actually survive college, though? I’m not necessarily there yet, but somehow I do believe I’m going to make it to graduation. I have gotten to September 20th of my senior year, and unless something actually goes terribly wrong with my student teaching in the spring – which is very much a possibility – I think I can make it to October 20th, and November 20th, and who knows? Maybe even May 20th, too.

But until then, I have a lot of surviving to do. From here on out I have applications to complete for both next summer and next year. I have meetings to attend. I have homework to finish (obvs). I have people to chill with. And I have food to eat. It’s going to be a busy fall. It is a busy fall, and it is only September. So here is my list: HOW TO SURVIVE COLLEGE. Or rather, how to keep sane. For starters, I will provide tips #1 and #2.

1. Be nice. I think this is arguably the most important skill to surviving college. Be friendly. Be open. Be inclusive. I tell you, it is so much fun to walk through a campus, and know people. And have people know you back. Smile to people on campus. Be the first person to say “hey” when you walk past someone you maybe-sort-of-kind-of know slash may have met last night at the local establishment. Remember people’s names. Act like you care about them. Actually care about them. Ask someone you haven’t talked to in a while out to coffee. Maintain relationships. Be nice. One of the best things about college is the friendships you make there. And the best and easiest way to create those friendships, and to build on those friendships, is to be a good friend. To be someone worth being friends with. And I tell you, if you are able to do these pleasant things, college will be a breeze.

2. Be smart with homework. Okay, so that doesn’t really make sense. Let me explain: College gets crazy. Especially when you attend a university of 3500 students, where you can pretty much be the president of all five of the organizations with which you’ve decided to become involved. If you’re like me, you don’t get the chance to even begin thinking about starting your homework until 9:30 or 10pm at night. And then you don’t get to bed until 1:30am. And then you wake up at ridiculous hours in the morning to finish what you didn’t finish the night before. (Like how I woke up at 7 this morning to finish this post, which is due today at 6pm…) The point is: Life is busy. How are you able to be committed to all of the organizations you are involved with, and be prepared for your classes, and still be a sane person? Well…you learn how to be smart with your homework. What classes do you actually need to do all your readings for? In which classes can you get away with sending emails or doing homework for other classes? Which classes don’t actually check homework assignments? Which professors are okay with you walking in late (which gives you a few extra minutes to finish that other homework assignment)? Which teachers are going to forgive you when you turn your assignment in late? Which classes can you afford being “sick” for when you need an hour-long nap, or when you need more time in your day for more homework? Now, I want to make clear: the asking of these questions does not make you a lazy student. They do not make you a poor student. They make you a smart student. I tell you, it is not physically possible to be the student that today’s society wants you to be… unless you learn how to manage your time. And sometimes, that means not exactly doing all of your homework. Or at least, it means learning how to be smart with you homework. And with that, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

Look forward to tips #3 and #4, coming soon! Do you have experience in or comments on tip #1 or #2? Or any suggestions of your own you feel need to be added to the list?

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3 responses to “How to Survive College. Or rather, how to remain sane.

  1. Chelsea, these are some really good tips, and I believe they can be applied to other parts of life as well.

    If I might offer a tip, it would be this: Don’t feed the trolls especially the ones that live inside your head.

    People shouldn’t listen to those doubting voices that hijack your thoughts especially when you need to get something done. I borrowed this from the Anne Lamott reading because I had this moment today when I was trying to get myself to write some papers. I vocalized several moments of un-interrupted complaining, and then I was able to work. It would be so more beneficial if I could just slam the door on those voices rather than wasting the time to indulge them.

  2. Chelsea, I appreciate the honesty of your post. As college students, I feel we habitually take on more classes and activities than feasible. Your post candidly approaches the college student’s balancing act, reminding me that checking every item off my to-do list isn’t always realistic.

    In turn, I wish to add “be realistic” to your list. While confidence is key, it’s important to be realistic about how much homework, how many activities and how many social gatherings one can manage in a given week.

  3. Your practicality is real life Chelsea. You seem to understand and well reiterate how college life here at Drake can really be. In a way, it’s reassuring to know I’m not the only psycho doing those things! College really is all what you make it to be. If you want to come out of college ahead of the stream (or at least attempt to be) you’re going to go out of your way to maintain those lasting relationships and networking opportunities and you’re going to focus and wake up at 7 a.m. to finish that post before deadline. It’s just what you have to do to stay on your game during all this crazy college lifestyle jazz. Excited to read next tips!

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