10 Lessons College Has Taught Me

Hey you! Thanks for dropping in.


With the closing of another chapter, (aka sophomore year of college) I was feeling inspired to share a little insight with you on the lessons that I’ve learned so far. It’s crazy to think that two years have gone by, and I’m already nearly halfway done with school forever! I’m a firm believer that your college experience will mold the person who you become, so you should probably make the most out of this inevitable experience! I get a little vulnerable in this blog post, so bear with me.

Here’s my advice for any of you who may be starting your collegiate journey soon, or are currently on this crazy roller coaster with me.


1. STUDYING IS NOT OPTIONAL!

Sooo.. I’m sure this may seem like an obvious one, but GIRL… let me tell ya, the first semester of Freshman year hit me like a ton of bricks! I was one of those kids who breezed through high school with great grades, by barely opening a single textbook. (Not everyone is like this--- It’s SO okay if you don’t find this relatable!) I honestly can say I didn’t know “how” to study because I never had to. My “studying” consisted of flipping through my notes for 5 minutes the night before or briefly skimming them before a quiz or test. Unfortunately, that crap doesn’t slide in college if you want to succeed. By all means, you can try to keep your old habits… but I PROMISE you will do so much better if you actually put the time into studying! I learned this one the hard way. Which brings me to my next point….


2. YOUR GRADES MAY NOT BE AS GOOD AS THEY WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL (AND THAT’S OKAY).

This is where I’m going to get vulnerable with you guys...I was a straight A student in High School, and if I got anything below a B+ I was mortified. My grades were always something I took pride in, and I still do! But in all honesty… you will probably not get a 4.0 in college (unless you’re a rockstar…. CHEERS to anyone who can do that, I admire ya). It’s honestly all about accepting your abilities, giving it your all, learning how to deal with failure, and moving on from there.


STORY TIME: I was on the guaranteed list for OT school before entering freshman year of college. This meant that come Fall of sophomore year, I would still need to apply, but as long as I met the requirements, I would be accepted. Awesome, right? Well let me tell ya… easier said than done! We needed to maintain a 3.0 GPA overall (yup, did this!) and get an 83% or better in any science class we were taking (nope, didn’t do this!) It seemed easy enough, and I honestly thought I wouldn’t have any issues doing so…. BUT, that wasn’t the case! I honestly really struggled with BIO 191, which was Anatomy and Physiology. This was definitely class that you needed to study a ton for, and I just wasn’t in the groove for college. I, unfortunately, didn’t get the required B that I needed, in fact, I didn’t even get a B-... I got a 79. Yup, a big ol’ C+. I may have passed the class, but I needed to retake it in order to move forward in my program. Trust me when I say that this hurt. I had never been so disappointed in myself.


But, learning how to deal with failure was such a big part of it. I recognized that I could’ve done more, and that’s exactly what I did! So what happened to me? Well, second semester I was able to move onto BIO 192, knowing that if I didn’t pass this course as well I’d be a year behind in my program AND that I was no longer guaranteed to get into OT school. Talk about being under pressure! I learned to study, I worked hard, and… I SUCCEED. I went from getting a C+ in the previous class, to getting an A on my final. Same professor, same difficulty level, but …. new study habits! Passing this class meant I was able to take Bio 301 in fall of sophomore year (while retaking 191), and as long as I did well, I would be able to apply to grad school. And for those of you who may have not been following my academic career thus far, I was accepted, and I will be starting grad school in about a week! (EEEKKKK!)


So, moral of the story… It’s okay to not get a 4.0. Never forget that college is hard, especially once you get passed gen-eds. In all honesty, as long as you tried your hardest and did everything you could to succeed, it’s okay! Getting a C+ is way better than not passing a class at all. Learn to deal with failure and to cut yourself some slack.


3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OFFICE HOURS, SUPPLEMENTAL INSTRUCTION, AND TUTORS! (AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS.)

In all honesty, part of being successful is doing everything you possibly can to reach your goals. So that may mean you have to step out of your comfort zone and ask for help…. I know it may seem crazy, but trust me, it’s worth it!


Most professors love getting asked questions, and it shows them you care about doing well in their class… so do it! If you’re too embarrassed to ask questions in class, stay after and do so. But, don’t be afraid to question something during lecture because chances are there are multiple other people right beside you who are just as confused. Another great option is office hours. Most professors are generous enough to give up their time each day for you to come in and get help; take advantage of this!


I’m not sure if all other schools are like this, but CUW offers supplemental instruction (aka, S.I.) and tutors for certain courses. And you betcha… I attended both. I went to S.I. twice a week for anatomy--- it was taught by students who previously took the class. We would do a mini lecture, practice tests, and then play Kahoot; it was a great way to review the material after each lecture. It was honestly SO helpful and FUN (yes, I did just say studying was fun.) I also signed up for a weekly tutor for anatomy. It was a half hour session with an older student, where I was able to ask any questions I had and review material. Some of them even offer study tips and give you their advice to success. So if your school has FREE tutors, you better get yourself on that list!


4. DON’T FORGET YOUR PRIORITIES AND YOUR “WHY”--- IT’S OKAY TO SAY “NO!”

I can’t stress this enough… don’t feel obligated to do anything you don’t want to do… EVER. This was something I have always struggled with, and if I’m being honest… I sometimes still do. I always feel the need to do what everyone else wants because I seriously HATE conflict (but like, who doesn’t?). One issue I ran into a lot so far in college was having to turn down my friends for nearly everything. You will be invited to do so many things every night of the week, even multiple times a day, whether it’s a party, a trip to the store, or even just grabbing a meal in the caf together. But honestly, if you have other obligations like school or work, it’s okay to miss a night out or a run to the store. I feel like I struggled with this so much freshman year because I didn’t have friends who were understanding of my priorities. They’d ask me WHY I go home every weekend to work. They’d ask me WHY I couldn’t just stay one weekend or WHY I couldn’t go out to eat with them. And it honestly all came down to what I wanted to prioritize. I go home every weekend to work because I pay for my own tuition, rent, gas, etc. And yes, I do spend time with my boyfriend and family when I go home. I try to cut corners and save money every chance I get because life is friggin expensive…. And tbh I’d rather spend the money on a shirt, a new lens, house decor, or literally anything OTHER than food or alcohol that lasts 0.04 seconds. Stop saying “yes” to sh*t you hate!!


It’s also important to know that you don’t need to be involved in and a part of everything and anything. Yes, clubs are great; Yes, volunteering looks great on resumes; Yes, watching your school’s teams with your friends is fun…. But do you honestly have time for it all? Are you already stressed over your classes and not doing as well as you thought? Then WHY overwhelm yourself with more obligations. It absolutely drives me nuts when I see people trying to juggle 8,342 commitments while complaining about their grades or whatever else. If you know you’re not good at balancing your life, don’t make things harder for yourself babe! I am now only involved in two clubs at school, I work a few side jobs, and I focus on school because those are the things that matter the most to me right now.


Maybe I’m in the wrong for doing this and maybe it makes me a crummy person, but I always try to do what’s right for myself and for my future. Every time I began to feel guilty about turning down my friends, I’d remind myself that I came to this school (and what I’m paying SO much money)....I chose to come to CUW to be educated and to get my degree. I didn’t come to this school to make friends and party (it’s a dry campus… hello!). YES I absolutely love the friends I have made, and I wouldn’t trade them and our memories for the world, but I am paying for an education, so that will be my priority. Spend time with your friends, join the clubs you want, try out for those sports teams… but never feel forced to do something you don’t want to or that you can’t handle. Saying “no” is more than okay sister! If those people and friends you surround yourself with truly love and care about you, they will be understanding and supportive of your choice. It’s easy to lose yourself when you’re trying to please others; don’t forget to do what makes YOU happy. On that note….


5. PICK YOUR FRIENDS WISELY + DON’T KEEP TOXIC PEOPLE AROUND

It’s 2019, you don’t think you still have to keep toxic people in your life, do you? Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back… you need to FLOURISH! Here’s an awesome podcast on identifying whether your friendships are toxic or not + how you can go about dealing with these relationships, thanks to Jordan Lee Dooley once again! It’s highly likely that you will run into the type of person that hinders your growth or brings out your ugly side. If there’s someone who instantly came to your mind when you read that, say so long to that “friendship.” Whether you realize it or not, these types of relationship can make you end up on the wrong path. They can deter you from your goals or even turn you into a bad person, and ain't nobody got time for that! The only people you need and should want to keep in your life are the ones that bring out the best in you---don’t make any room for people who don’t! Realize that people change and so will you. Don’t feel obligated to hang onto any relationship that you outgrow. I’d rather be alone than surrounded by bad company any day. College is the prime time to discover who you are and what is important to you. So take this advice and run sister!


6. BE YOURSELF + DO YOU!

If you want to wear those bib overalls, I say do it! If you want to test the waters and dye your hair a fun color, go for it! Don’t feel obligated to follow all the latest trends or be too scared to wear something that’s outside the norm. You are not defined by your looks by any means, and you shouldn’t be scared to express yourself through fashion! Who knows, you could start a fashion trend of your own or you could inspire someone else to step outside of their comfort zone. In all honesty… it doesn’t matter what other people think of you (especially people you don’t know!) Just be yourself… living life through the eyes of others is so overrated.


This goes for your morals as well. Be kind. Do your best. Stay Humble. Stick to your values. I promise you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Never put your integrity below anything because if you lose sight of who you are, what are you living for?


7. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF + TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

I will preach studying and giving school your all anytime, anywhere. But self-care is equally important, hands-down. Do those things that you need to do to give yourself a break….


Paint your nails. Watch your favorite show on Netflix. Take an elective that you will enjoy. Go for a walk outside. Take a nap if you need to (I may have done this a time or two…. Or three!). Go to the movies with your friends on $5 Tuesdays. Go on that spring break trip with your girlfriends. Study abroad. Take a day-trip to your favorite city. Read that book you’ve been pushing aside for years. Put on that facemask. Eat some Ben + Jerry’s. Pursue a new hobby. Go to bed earlier at night.


Whatever it is… make time for yourself and take care of yourself. Never forget the importance of mental health.


8. WORKING WHILE YOUR IN SCHOOL IS BENEFICIAL IF YOU’RE ABLE TO BALANCE IT ALL.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I’ve loved receiving paychecks from the minute I started working. The summer before I started college I was working a minimum of 55 hours a week between one full-time and one part-time job. I was gone from my house from 5AM to 11PM and ran on little to no sleep. (I don’t recommend doing this for your health, but the money was BOMB!) Throughout freshman year I came home and worked every weekend- Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday. I worked full-time over winter and summer breaks while taking online classes. Last summer I worked full-time, also had a part-time job, and managed to do photography on the weekends. In fall, I worked Fridays at my regular job and photography on the weekend. This last semester I had a full schedule, so I could only do photography on the weekends… and let me tell ya, the lack of income killed me--- but I’m so thankful I have a studio and was able to continue to do photography despite our cold and snowy winter. I love making money and I love all my current jobs, so there’s not much to complain about!


So… if you’re paying for your own school or have other expenses in life or even if you just want to save up, I’d advise you to work a little each week if you can! Every little bit helps. There are so many laid-back jobs that you could probably do your homework at--- my hotel job ROCKED for this. Finding a flexible job is key… that way if you know you have a stressful week, such as finals or a huge project, you can work less!


9. LIVING ON CAMPUS ISN’T FOR EVERYONE

I honestly can say that I didn’t love living on campus, but I didn’t hate it. My experience over the past two years has had some pro’s and con’s:


Pro’s:

-You can meet awesome people

-Free Hall programs

-You don’t have to get up as early for class

-You can go back to your room at any time of the day

-You’re able to put it on a loan, rather than paying out of pocket each month

-You have cable, wifi, etc… but it’s all part of the outrageous price you pay for room and board


Con’s:

-It’s more expensive than renting (depending on what city you’re in)

-Girls can be SLOBS (I’d take 5 boys over some girls any day)

-D.R.A.M.A.

-You will probably have a different living style than your roommates, which can be difficult to accommodate for one another

-You might have to share a room

-You probably won’t get your first choice dorm

-Strict rules about EVERYTHING

-You might not like the people you live with (or you may end up not liking them over time)


I honestly hated sharing a suite freshman year with eight other girls. There were SOO many different personalities and living styles that it wasn’t the most ideal situation. This year was better since I had my room--- but trust me, I wasn’t a fan. It’s hard to live with people who have different personalities than yours, different definitions of clean and quiet, etc. Long story short….living in the dorms was NOT for me. To say I’m excited to move off campus with 3 of my friends is an understatement for sure.


10. DON’T DWELL ON THE PAST

For those of you who know me on a personal level… this “lesson” may seem hypocritical of me because it’s something I am constantly working on. (I have a previous record of being a SERIOUS grudge holder lol!) I have realized that this has been one of my biggest wastes of time and energy. I have caused myself so much stress, anxiety, and unhappy moments dwelling on things that have happened in the past. But for what reason? To sit around sulking and being negative about an individual’s ability to change? To give myself a reason to avoid someone I used to be once close with? WHY? It’s time to choose happiness. Let that SH*T go girlfriend!! You can’t change anything that has already happened. Whether it was your mistake or someone else's… reflect upon it, learn from it, and move on. It’s honestly the only effective thing to do. You can’t start a new chapter of your life if you’re still living in and re-reading the last one. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone makes stupid decisions. It’s part of being human.


So there you have it! The list could honestly be endless, and I could expand on each of these topics with more stories, scenarios, and advice, but you also learn more from personal experience. College is a fun and exciting new chapter, so make the most of it!


Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk, babe.


Enjoy your next step in this crazy world we call life.


XOXO

Mel




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