Yippee! You’re going to COLLEGE!
You’re probably getting hours and hours of sleep because you don’t spend any time at all mulling over all the new, unknown, big, scary things that come bundled up in that word ‘college.’ No, you haven’t started thinking about your future or your career or what all that means for your next four years. You haven’t started thinking about leaving home (if you are), either, or leaving your friends. You’re dandy. You’re just great. You are so excited. Genuinely amped. Ready to go. You feel like you just want to give everyone high fives.
Except, that’s not true at all. That’s actually laughable.
I know, you know, we all know that you are also (and I am definitely understating this): scared out of your wits. You’ve got the heebie-jeebies—those annoying willies. Your stomach is essentially a butterfly conservatory. You spend a lot of your free time exclaiming things like: “WHAT IS GOING ON?” Or… “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO WHEN I GROW UP?” But mostly… “AHHHHHH.”
Guess what? You’re normal.
This is normal.
College is a huge adjustment. Somehow, though, all of us college-goers come out alive, smiling, and never wanting to leave. So be soothed. This will be the best time of your life.
Now, I know my words of wisdom won’t actually be heeded at the moment, so I won’t keep spouting nostalgic, reflective, awesome statements about college.
What I will do is give you some tips on how to gain appropriate perspective on your undergraduate education. We’re going to talk about (dun dun dunnnn…): YOUR MAJOR.
Hear me when I say: YOU WANT TO READ THIS.
It’s okay to change it. Multiple times.
Some of you know exactly what you want to study, maybe what career path you want to go down. You’re pretty sure you’ve got it all figured out. If you’re nodding your head right now, this piece of wisdom is for you: you may be surprised.
Some of you will keep on that initial path. You’ll start taking classes in your particular major, you’ll enjoy it, you’ll sit in the front row, hang out with your professors in office hours, and you’ll just keep on keepin’ on until you graduate.
Some of you, though, will find that you don’t actually like what you thought you would. You’re bored, you’re confused, you’re sleeping (and snoring) in class, and you just aren’t that into it. For you guys, and for those who start off college undeclared, I implore you to feel comfortable and at ease trying new things until something fits. You do it when you shop, you can do it when you study. You wouldn’t buy an extremely expensive outfit without trying it on first, would you? So why buy an education (which is, you know, sort of pricey) without trying some stuff out first? Think about it.
Some of you might be worried about what “other people” will think. I want to tell you that no one will judge you if you change it up a bit. They will actually praise you for caring about the education you are getting (who’s the cool kid on campus now?). As long as you monitor your units, requirements, etc. throughout your college career, you should have no problem. Have no fear, you are not alone! Counselors can help you with this process, too!
It doesn’t define your career.
Oh my goodness, what did she just say? THAT IS BLASPHEMOUS!
I have a lot of friends who want to be doctors. They’ve taken their pre-requisites for medical school, sure, but do you know how many of them are actually majoring in things like physiological sciences, biology, biochemistry, neuroscience, etc.? Practically none. Many have picked majors like history and English. The same goes for some of my friends who chose to go to law school.
Your major matters because hopefully it reflects your interests. Hopefully, you are studying something you really want to be studying. That may or may not lead to a career in that field. You may even (like my aspiring-doctor-buds) get the chance to study two subjects (Wow!). I changed my major three times (almost four…no shame), am currently studying psychology, and don’t intend to be a psychologist. Nuts, right? Your options are endless.
The main point is…
Don’t let yourself be scared by the constricting appearance of a word like ‘major.’ It’s not going to constrict you unless you want it to and you let it. With enough determination you can always pull strings here and there and maneuver stealthily through your undergraduate experience to create whatever experience you want. Honestly. Just look at college as a time to figure out what really makes you tick- what you really want to spend time learning about. Maybe you will be inspired to continue that study later on in life, and maybe you won’t. There’s nothing wrong with either of these situations.
So take the leap, step into the unknown, jump into the ocean, let your spirit fly!
(That got excessive fairly quickly…my bad.)
Point is: try new things, explore a little bit. You’ll be better than fine.
Okay, okay… I pinky promise.
Whether you’re preparing to attend college or you’re already there, you’ll probably have figured out by now that applying for scholarships to fulfill that expensive education is almost as difficult and as time consuming as attaining the degree itself. With the massive amount of competition out there, you might feel you have about the same chances of attaining a scholarship as you do of winning some sort of sweepstakes; there will always be somebody smarter, luckier, more talented or more involved in school than you to snatch the prize. It’s hard to be that student in the middle, believe me, I know. As I found out when I was applying to universities, my parents (who were by no means “well-off”) earned too much for me to receive any government aid, while my grades (a 4.3 GPA) were caught in a no-man’s land in the scholarship world–not as high as my valedictorian friend’s, not as low as the struggling students’ who were given opportunities to break the cycle and go to college (quite rightly).
But in all of that, I ended up with scholarship fatigue. It felt like it’d never be me receiving the helping hand. How I wish the following scholarship had existed back then, when I could’ve been granted a scholarship for doing what I do best–being me.
College Humor is offering two students the opportunity to win $5,000 a piece. The requirement? Be that typical student caught in the middle.
Did you sign up for 3 clubs but never attend meetings? Is your GPA a 2.1? Would some of your professors have a hard time remembering if you were in their class? If so, enter now! We hope you’re not exceptional.
If you’re looking for ways to pay for college and are coming up short, definitely give this scholarship a go. What’s the downside of rejection, after all? That you’re not average enough? Head over to the scholarship’s home page to watch a funny video and find out more on how to apply. Good luck!
Now that summer has drawn to a close and the school year has arrived, many of you will have left the nest for the first time and moved into that staple of college comedy: the dorm. As a recent college graduate and an employee of the front desk of a residence hall for nearly two years, I’ve asked my coworkers what they would like to tell incoming freshmen about dorm life. If they could give you one piece of advice, this is what they would tell you:
“Force yourself to be social. This is the one time of year when everyone is trying to make friends, so this is the best time to meet as many people as possible. A lot of your friends can be found right on your floor.” –Anum K., Fourth Year
The first few weeks of college will be a nebulous period in which everyone is feeling out of their depth. Everyone is overwhelmed, no matter how confident they seem, and the first thing people seek is a friend to help them figure things out. Use this as an exciting opportunity. You will never encounter another situation like this, where hundreds or thousands of people are looking for friends at the same time. Meeting masses of people may be intimidating, especially to you Socially Awkward Penguins out there, but it can be incredibly helpful. Some tips to help you do so:
- “Invest in a fork.” –Lixa C., Third Year
This may seem really weird, but it is actually an incredibly useful piece of advice. In my dorm we pilfered forks from the dining hall and bent them in half to use as doorstops. This is especially useful when you live in a long hallway where everyone can see your door and vice versa. It lets people know that you’re open to socializing and encourages them to stop in and introduce themselves. You won’t be the only one doing this, I promise. I got to know nearly every person on my freshman floor by doing this.
- “If your roommate sucks, MOVE.” –Aime A., Fourth Year
There is a time limit on this one. A couple of weeks into the semester, there should be some sort of room-swap event where you can switch with another person. If you walk in and instantly know you and your roommate won’t get along, don’t force yourself to suffer through an entire year of living with one another. It will eliminate the chance to find a friend and make your daily life stressful. My freshman roommate is my best friend, bar none. You are not doomed to have a crazy roommate. But act quickly; if you miss this event, it is unlikely you will be able to switch easily midway through the year.
- “Use it as a time to get to know everyone while they’re in one place.”–Erika F., Graduate
This isn’t like high school, where you only have a certain amount of time between classes during the day to get to know people. Living in a dorm means that there are people of your age group living five feet away from you. They go to class with you. They eat in the same places. They study in the same places. You could step out of your door at two in the morning and it is likely that there will be someone there. They might not be the ideal candidate, but you have ample time and opportunity to find people who are.
“No studying is ever done in study lounges.” –Victor S., Fourth Year
My floor study lounge freshman year was many things. It was the first door you encountered when entering the floor, and a natural meeting spot. It was a safe haven if you grew stir crazy in your room. It was the place where you could pass out after a Thursday night adventure in the frat houses. It was the place where the boisterous, ragtag group of freshmen from my floor stored their trophies from these nights out (including, but not limited to: a wheelchair, an upright piano, a white board, a chair from In-N-Out, the couch from the floor above us, and so on).
It was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a place where you could study.
Even if your floor isn’t something out of Animal House like mine was, you are bound to get distracted if you try to study in a lounge. There will always be someone popping their head in, or a group of people playing cards, or any number of things that can break your concentration in an instant. Find alternatives. The dorm we work in has private study rooms that can be rented out for a two-hour period. We also have a massive lecture room where the unspoken law is silence. Coffee shops have free WiFi and caffeine to keep you going. I am the rare breed of person who can actually study in my room without falling asleep, but I usually don’t recommend that method to others. If all else fails, there’s always the library. Find out what works for you and stick to it.
And if you really want to study in your lounge, I leave you with this advice:
“Buy ear plugs.” – Danay I., Fourth Year
- “Don’t smoke in the dorm. Because you will get written up. And you will die.” – Kyle B., Second Year
College isn’t all about studying, nor is it about the massive amounts of partying you’ll see in college comedies. In between there are little moments of everyday life as you struggle to adjust to living on your own for the first time in your life. If you’re well prepared, it’ll be easier on you. If not, here are some tips:
- “Food. Food everywhere.” – Eddie A., Third Year
Our dining halls were all-you-can-eat buffets, and were ranked among the best in the nation. They also come with the added bonus of a wide variety of food with little effort required to get it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the cause of the infamous Freshman Fifteen. So maybe instead of helping yourself to that third basket of fries, go for the salad instead. And while pizza every day for a month might sound awesome, your scale doesn’t think so and neither will that cute girl who sits next to you in your Intro to Econ class.
- “Get used to having a roommate.” – Eric W., Fourth Year
Cohabitation is not easy, no matter how well you get along with your roommate. It’s hard to be conscious and considerate of another person’s needs while juggling your own obligations and stress. But remember the Golden Rule and don’t blast music while your roommate is trying to study or sleep, and don’t invite your significant other over and whisper late into the night when they have early class the next day. Yes, it is your room and technically you can do what you want, but it’s their room as well and making their life difficult might have repercussions in the form of spiders in your bed. Just saying, they know where you sleep.
- “Don’t bother buying new clothes. You’ll look like crap in class anyway and so will everyone else.” – Danay I., Fourth Year
You might try to look good for the first few weeks of class. But all it takes is one day of sleeping through your alarm and sprinting to class in your Donald Duck PJs for you to stumble upon that magical realization: Nobody Cares. Seriously. As long as the important bits are covered, you could walk into class looking like a complete lunatic and no one will bat an eye. My freshman year, I had a class in a meeting room located in my own building. I used to wake up five minutes before class, toss my hair up in a hair tie, and stroll into class with thirty seconds to spare without changing out of my pajamas. I didn’t even put on shoes. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, so hang on to those ratty high school sweatpants until at least a couple of weeks in. That said…
- “Do laundry more than once a semester.” – Logan L., Second Year
Laundry can be a pain. It’s time consuming, tedious, and the nearest laundry room might be on the other side of the building. When you get there you might find that every single washer is occupied and you’ll have to wait even longer to snag the next one. At my college quarters are worth their weight in gold, and usually anyone who asks for them at our desk past noon on a Saturday is out of luck as we don’t get a change order on the weekends. With that said, you are a grownup. People might not care what you look like in class, but they’ll expect you to practice basic hygiene. This goes for finals week as well. You’d think I wouldn’t have to tell people that. You’d be wrong. Make sure you and your clothes are clean (and no, spraying your unmentionables with Febreze won’t cut it).
I’ll leave you with my own piece of advice. If I could tell incoming freshmen just one thing, it would be this: don’t limit your friendly interactions to other students. Make friends with the people who work in your building. The front desk staff. The housekeepers. The dining hall people. The RAs and other residential life staff. There is no downside to this. You’ll be more knowledgeable about your building. You might get a favor every now and then. And you’ll make their day better by seeing them as something more than some drone there to service you. A lot of the time working in a dorm can seem like a thankless task, and when someone tells us to have a nice day or gives us a genuine “thank you” it can make all the difference. I have met so many wonderful people who work in the dorms, and it doesn’t matter whether that relationship manifests itself in free swipes for food or just a smile as I walk down the hall. Become a part of your community. Don’t neglect someone just because they play a different role in the dorm life than you.
As with many aspects of college, you’ll get out what you put into your dorm experience. I had the time of my life while living in the dorms, but I didn’t do that by staying cooped up in my room bent over my textbooks every spare minute of the day, nor by neglecting my schoolwork until I was too stressed to enjoy myself. It’s all about striking a balance.
Thanks so much to my coworkers for offering their advice. They are a huge part of what has made my dorm experience so awesome. #sproullifeforlife!
Editorial Intern, eNotes.com