College is a fantastic time. It’s a great time to learn about the world and your self and your place in the world. But lately, more and more kids are heading into college and struggling through their first year(s).
Why is that?
In my opinion, from what I’ve observed being a college student, and being asked questions by kids at work (I have teenagers on my team who want to know everything about college), college is set up to fail a vast majority of incoming students.
What is the disconnect between what kids are told by their high school teachers and what actually happens at college?
For one, most classes are actually self taught. I know, I know… You’re paying thousands and thousands just to be there, plus the hundreds on textbooks, so that means the professor should show you something right?
No. The professor is just there to make sure you get evaluated for the class. The actual learning part is up to you. You need to actually do the ‘optional’ reading and do every activity. The lecture is just to see what the professor will test you on. No actual learning happens in a lecture. It happens in your dorm room at 3am as you struggle through the same chapter for the 10th time trying to memorize the equation for cellular respiration.
Another thing kids don’t get told about is how to effectively time manage. Every kid thinks they know how to manage their time and those who took extracurriculars in high school are extremely sure about their ability to time manage.
What nobody wants to tell them is that, real time management involves prioritizing tasks and pushing some tasks off until last minute because more important tasks come up.
For example, knowing that a big project is due, these freshies will spend hours trying to finish a 10 point homework assignment instead of plotting out and researching for the project that’s due in two days.
Just because something is due immediately doesn’t mean you absolutely have to complete it if it’s going to put your grade in jeopardy for another course.
Honestly, there is so much they don’t tell you about college when you’re a high school junior or senior.
And even with all the advice out there from kids like me who have just finished college, or are still in the middle of it… There’s still so much nobody tells you.
Like, syllabuses will save your ass time and time again, so don’t lose them or throw them out after the first class.
Or stock up on tissues and cold medicine before cold season hits, especially if you live in the dorms, because you will catch something.
Pick one day a week to always do laundry otherwise you will run out of clean underwear and usually before a big event (date, job interview, family dinner).
Write notes in class in pen because a pen will 9 times out of 10 work more consistently than a pencil.
Do not make in class notes pretty. You will spend too much time switching between highlighters and then lose information that will definitely be on the test.
Do not wear impractical shoes or clothing, no matter how cute you think you look. Those heels will be your bane when you have to walk all the way across campus in the sudden rainstorm.
Do not party. Just don’t. Not only are the legal implications shitty (wait until you have to pay your first ticket), but if you party with strangers, bad shit happens. Maybe not to you or your friends, but bad shit happens.
Always carry a charger and a snack. Always. There will be days you get stuck in class and miss lunch or dinner.
Set alarms and reminders on your phone for everything. Everything, from taking out the trash to a project due next week to reminding yourself to take a break from studying so you can actually make it to the dining hall for food.
When you move out of the dorms, you will trash your new place at least once in the semester. And not party-trash. I mean, working 30 hours, projects galore, haven’t done the dishes in weeks trashed.
You will get at least one shitty professor. One who makes you hate that class and their department. Suck up dealing with them because honestly, they can and will fail you for a shitty attitude. Happened to me. But that’s a story for another time.
No amount of words I put out will actually make your experience any different.
Lay off the coffee shop lattes because you will inevitably go broke. Trust me.
Coffee and energy drinks are not meal replacements.
Most assignments are listed only in the syllabus and it’s your responsibility to know what is die when. These assignments will only be listed in the syllabus and never brought up in class.
Check and double check everything you write for essays. If your allowed opinion based(usually arts and some literature classes) then just make sure everything makes sense. If you need sources (science reports), please learn how to academically write.
You will spend thousands to be here, but you will be expected to pay out of pocket to print 90% of anything you need printed, including notes, project, reports, and more.
Everyone is pretentious and completely full of themselves. Avoid who you can, be courteous to those you cannot avoid.
Splurge on pens because the last thing you need is for your pen to quit working in the middle of lecture. Don’t share pens for anything.
You will think you are starving. You are not. Eat only meals 3 times a day and 2 snacks a day between major classes.