Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Now that I officially have one year of college under my belt, I want to share the top ten things that were definite game changers for me.

If you're reading this, you're most likely in your first month of classes, or just about to head off to the U.  First things first, congratulations! Going to college and getting a degree is quite the accomplishment, for only 39.4% of Americans have ever received one.
 In the long run, that degree can't do anything but help you.  But what does that mean in terms of cold hard cash?  In a study done in recent years, they found that on average, a high school graduate will make approximately $1.2 million in their lifetime.  Sounds like a lot, right?  Well, take a look at those with a bachelor's degree--the average nearly doubles to $2.2 million, and then again when you get a master's, etc.  So please, turn off that "I hate school" attitude, and start being grateful and proud of that education you're cramming into that brain of yours.

1.)  You've been told this before, and I'll tell you again.  Yes, you're actually going to have to study.

If you're anything like me, you didn't have to study for more than ten minutes for some classes, if at all.  Hell, you probably didn't even need to show up.  In college, the professors move quickly regardless of whether the class is following or not.  It's your responsibility to keep up your understanding of material you have/will go over in class.  I would even suggest studying the material ahead of time so you can follow along, and actually focus on what the professor is saying instead of focusing on taking strenuous notes.

2.)  Alone time will become almost nonexistent.

A large percent of colleges and universities require their students to live on campus for their freshman year.  If your college will be anything like mine, you have to have a roommate, unless you have special circumstances. As I am a sophomore this year, I'm allowed to have my own bedroom. I do, however, share a living room, bathroom, and kitchenette with three suitemates, which is extremely nice.
MY ADVICE: pay attention to the prices of the dorms!  I wish I would have been told that last year, the price of a huge private suite is nearly the same as a tiny shoebox of a room.

3.)  Nobody cares about who you were in high school.

This is my favorite thing about college.  Were you made fun of in high school for what you were into?  This is your chance.  In college you are completely free to be yourself, and nobody is going to make you feel bad for doing so.  Everyone is friends with all sorts of people, regardless of their interests, backgrounds, or popularity.  Go join that Star Wars club! Be a member of the Nebraskans for the Upgraded Treatment of Squirrels!  No one's going to judge you for doing so.  Example: in high school, I was made fun of for liking video games, particularly Spyro.  (Crazy right?  BEST GAME EVER.)  Last year I was hanging out in the common room of my dorm, playing a little Ripto's Rage, and people would come in saying things like "dude I love this game!"  Within a half hour, I had a group of people hanging out in there with me.  They are still the best group of friends I have ever had.

4.)  People don't get over their immaturity until after freshman year.

If you want to find some peace and quiet, you're prooooobably going to have to find a seat at the library.  Beware, for if you step out of your room, you may find yourself in the middle of a floor-wide nerf battle.  But if that's what you, hey, you keep doin' you.

5.)  Time management is key.

This is the most important thing you need to learn, if you don't already know how to do this.  Classes aren't from 8-3:30 like they always have been.  There's nobody designating a time for you to work on homework and when to study for tests.  You're in charge of your own time.  Also, you need to figure out when your schedule best matches up with your professor's office hours.

6.)  You're just another face.

As important as it is to introduce yourself to your professor, it is just as important that you meet other students, so you can form study groups.  Having people to study with makes preparing for exams 10,000x easier.

7.)  There are some VERY interesting people around campus.

If you come from a town with a not-so-diverse population like I do, college will be a bit of a culture shock.  But in all honesty, it's a lot of fun.  There is a woman who lives here in Lincoln who will periodically show up ranting about some new social issue.  She is known as "The Blue Coat Lady," and you may know her from Tosh.0.  Or perhaps you have heard of "The Skateboarding Professor," who appeared on the front page of Reddit.

8.)  If you want something done, you're going to have to do it yourself.

Professors are never going to be there to hold your hand and walk through something with you in class.  Usually the only time they'll answer your question is if it is a clarification issue.  If you don't understand something, you'll either need to make an appointment, or go in to their office hours.

9.)  If you're homesick, it'll go away.

My first few weeks in Lincoln by myself were hard.  No friends, no family, no nothing.  I remember just sitting in my room all alone, really depressed.  With time, that will go away.  Instead of sitting in your room like I did, go out and meet people on your floor.  It makes the homesickness go away a lot quicker.  But don't be afraid to call your mom and dad and tell them you miss them, they'll love to hear from you.  Before you move, be sure to take advantage of your mom's cooking for as long as you can!  You'll get sick of dorm food pretty quick.


With a few exceptions, professors love when students show up for their office hours.  They're just sitting there doing nothing, so having someone to help makes things more interesting.  They love helping you out, and they want to know your name just as much as you want them to.  I have had a professor raise my grade one whole letter because I went to his office weekly.

Enjoy your time here.  Make it the best it can be!  College can be full of so many new and interesting experiences that you will remember for the rest of your life.  Not only will you be having fun, you'll be setting the table (metaphorically speaking) for the rest of your life.  Make sure it's a feast.

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