By Kaci Yoder
School is officially back in session, and that means it’s time for another crash course in life outside of the nest. Whether you’re a newbie to campus or a seasoned senior, you’re never too experienced in college life to be above some solid advice. As someone who finished college with a degree, a decent GPA, and a 100 percent survival rate, I have a few reminders for students entering another semester.
1. Keep an open mind.
College is a time to broaden your definitions of “normal.” A lot of us thought with conviction that we knew everything about ourselves and the world in high school, but college is the time to open yourself up to knew possibilities and ways of thinking. Stop and chat with the groups tabling on campus. Listen to lectures that challenge your beliefs. Figure out your sexuality. You’ve got more room than ever to accept new lessons—not just academically.
2. Skipping class is almost never worth it.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with taking the occasional mental health day, but skipping class only brings more stress. What if you missed something important? What if your professor changed a test date while you were in your apartment watching Pretty Little Liars? It’s not worth the headache. Suck it up and go to class. If you need extra motivation, try looking at your fee bill and averaging out how much each class is worth in dollars.
3. The best hangover cure is preventing one.
We’ve all found ourselves in a lecture shotgunning a triple-shot super grande coffee and trying to stay upright and not covered in drool or vomit. If you must go out drinking the night before an early class—not advisable—remember the steps to preventing a hangover. Eat a good meal with lots of carbs before drinking, and have a cup of water between each drink. You’ll thank us later.
4. Clean your freaking room.
It’s tempting to leave your clothes on the floor and eat pizza in your bed when your mom isn’t around to get onto you about it. A nasty, cluttered space is only going to make it harder to focus, and as soon as studying starts piling up, walking into your dorm room or apartment is going to feel like wading into an overwhelming bog of garbage and anxiety. Tidy up a little bit every day, and your space (and headspace) should stay manageable.
5. Make the most of your student perks.
Believe me, those of us on the other side of graduation miss the days when Paw Points could buy us some freshly churned ice cream from the dairy store and our student ID could get us exclusive Amazon discounts. Do some research and find out where you can get discounts and free entry for being a student, and save up some Paw Points for the end of the semester.
6. Be safe.
Yeah, it’d be great if we lived in a world where people weren’t awful and there were no real consequences for anything, but as much as it may feel that way in college sometimes, it’s not the case. Don’t walk alone at night, keep your doors locked, and always use a condom. Being drunk, high, or exhausted from exam week isn’t a reason to risk your life. Be smart, y’all.
7. A four-year degree isn’t for everyone.
Let’s face it—not all of us are meant to get a bachelor’s degree. There’s nothing wrong with realizing that a technical college, trade school, or jumping into full-time work is a better fit for you. Be honest with yourself about why you’re going to school, and choose your path accordingly. Plenty of successful people never got degrees, and it’s better to figure out what’s right for you now rather than several years of bills and stress later.
8. Take care of yourself.
The stakes may seem high sometimes in college, but you don’t want to be that person who has a stress stroke in junior year. Plan ahead to avoid pile-ups of work, take lots of naps, stay hydrated, and let your friends help you when they can. You’re not in this alone, and I’m not just talking about your study group. It’s free to see a counselor in the health center. If you feel yourself starting to crumble under the pressure of grades and student loan debt, don’t just struggle in silence. There are plenty of people out there ready to help. Take care of yourself, take care of others, and let others take care of you.