College is busy. But news flash—you knew that coming in.
Over the last 3 years I have made it my goal to be as involved and “busy” as possible—while of course still keeping up with my classes and grades. My friends look at it as a death sentence. They can’t figure out why I want to always be running around, shouldn’t I be studying? But all arguments aside, I always came to the conclusion that the alternative was worse: Spending 4 years trapped, alone, in my dorm room.
Let’s play a game. Would you Rather?
Would you rather be busy, or be bored to tears?
Would you rather have a jam-packed schedule, or not enough to do?
And last one…
Would you rather have stories to tell (stressed ones, funny ones, crazy ones) or think back on your time and not remember anything but books?
Okay so these are extreme, but you get the point.
I go to a relatively small school, so it’s easier to get involved—maybe even more encouraged. However, I took them up on it and haven’t regretted it since. Sure some days are too busy and I can’t wait to drop everything and take a nap, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Everyone tells me they are “too busy”. I want to reply, “good! You should be!”, but always think twice. You should be busy in college, it comes with the territory, or at least it should.
In fact, I’ve watched my friends over the last 3 years do the exact opposite of me—try to stay uninvolved. I love them to death, but I think I made the winning choice. There are days when I don’t see them leave their rooms, or do more than just watch a new episode of the “must-see” TV show. While I agree that they have chosen the less stress-filled path, I think that when we graduate in May, they might be slightly disappointed at what they missed out on.
We all make choices in college, many of which shape who we are. It’s not mandatory to get involved; maybe studying really does take that long. But the way I see it is we have 4 years in college. Classes are most important and studying goes along with that, but what about the rest of the time? Once you graduate the tickets aren’t as cheap, the activities aren’t as readily available. The programs, movies, parties, and friend groups aren’t as easy to find.
Yes college is about the books, but it’s also about growing up and gaining experience—social experience as well as life experience, and a big part of that is learning to balance. College should be a balance of work and fun, books and friends, movies and food. It’s the whole package! Your classes may be the meat and bones of the experience—the thick of it, but the cherry on top of your 4 years is the friends, memories and stories you’ll be able to tell about the other stuff you did. Ramen in your dorm room can’t go in your scrapbook. Trust me.
The beginning of the new school year should come with an entirely revamped set of expectations. No, I’m not talking about mundane academic topics or crushing parental pressure. I’m referring to the standards you (should) set for yourself with each passing year. Did you happen to get a little out of shape this past exam period? This tends to happen, to some degree, to everyone when their diet is reduced to copious amounts of coffee, overpriced scones, and the vending machine’s baffling selection of candy bars. Feeling completely sapped of energy after your daily exertions in the classroom or “don’t have time” for the gym? When stress enters the equation, all else is left behind. The positives become easy to overlook and dwelling on failure is intuitive. Don’t fall into the trap! Recognize the signs and click into a healthy routine that will do wonders for your confidence.
From a male perspective, particularly in college, being in good physical shape becomes really important. Why, you ask? Didn’t we leave the superficiality safely stowed away in a high school locker? The answer is – sort of. We certainly left behind the immature wisecracks based on people’s appearance, but I don’t believe we have completely left behind the judgment. You’ve heard the saying – “First impressions are hard to erase.” Appearance is an inevitable part of every first impression. You may be an extraordinarily accomplished person, but give off an antipathetic vibe. Paying due attention to your looks has benefits that go beyond the superficial. The science behind the claim is common knowledge. Exercising on a regular basis not only optimizes physical attractiveness but also literally “clears your mind.” Increased blood flow throughout the body livens you up and clears up any signs of the foggy malaise that usually has you stapled to the couch.
More often than not, getting into a regular exercise routine has nothing to do with capability. Even the busiest individual has thirty minutes to an hour of free time to devote to miscellaneous activities each and every day. The biggest issue for most is motivation. Admittedly, the thought of adding another “duty” to your schedule is taxing. This is precisely the negative mindset you must try to avoid. Working out shouldn’t be thought of as a difficult and annoying responsibility. If you’re a beginner, hitting the gym will seem challenging initially. Escaping your lazy streak will seem like a nightmare. You sit there and think about it – the muscle soreness, breathlessness, and intimidating sight of those who got the memo a little ahead of time. This is one of the only times I will advise you to stop thinking. Contemplating these sorts of things only delays progress. Dive right in and get a taste of what regular exercise is actually like. Your program will become more and more structured as your enthusiasm increases.
The college environment encourages self-improvement. We are told that these are the years in which we are “shaped.” Take this both figuratively and literally. With intellectual growth must come social awareness and that requires greater effort. When you’re satisfied with one aspect of your being, begin molding the next. Always strive to be well rounded and you will gain respect.
Deciding whether to stay in or drop a class can be challenging. Sometimes it’s tempting to drop just based on the professor alone, the class time or the work load. But before making a hasty decision, you need to weigh the pros and cons and determine if staying might be better for your future courses after all.
When considering dropping a class, you should first consider why you want to drop it in the first place. Do you just want to take the class with a different professor? Do you feel bad about your friends all being in a different section? Is it just too hard to wake up for 9:30 am? If you only have one reason to drop—and not a very good one—you should stick it out for the semester. One early class won’t kill you, and might actually make you more productive later on. Being without buddies is a good way to make new ones…or just make your way through the class being the quiet observer that doesn’t annoy the professor. If your desire to drop the class is more than superficial reasoning, you have some more consideration to do.
If you have an overloaded schedule (and by that, I mean more than 15 credits), lots of upper level classes and just overall lots of work, maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to drop that killer class that is so not going to be a GPA booster. If you just want to drop one class because you’re taking too many, you should also consider how dropping your hardest class will affect your schedule the next time around. Would saving it for later mean an even harder semester? Sometimes letting go of the fun elective is the better decision when you have to create a sequence or have to take classes in a certain order for your major.
So, before you even think about hitting that drop class button, you need to do some planning ahead. If the course is a prerequisite for another class you have to take, say no to the temptation. If it’s a course required for your major that you can take at any time…well, consider how hard the class will really be (sometimes the profs scare you on the first day wit their syllabus and grading policies, but they turn out to be super lenient and get off track almost immediately) before deciding whether or not you should put it off. If it’s a prerequisite for classes that you really want to take, then it’s up to you whether or not you want to stick it out; sometimes you can replace it with another class or change up a sequence to still get into the ones you want to take and avoid the classes you could care less about.
If you have a job or internship over the course of the semester, its workload shouldn’t be taken lightly when added to all your school work. If you need a lot of work hours and it’s hard to fit into your schedule with an extra class, then maybe dropping will help your work opportunities. If all you do at work is sit at a desk and do homework while occasionally helping someone on a project, I think you can handle having one more class in your schedule.
At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for your sanity. Figure out what you can handle—there’s no reason to completely stress yourself out if the course is unnecessary or can wait to be taken later. Consider your work load, the time needed to put into the class, if not taking the class will mess up your schedule for the rest of your college career and whether or not the class is actually needed. Don’t automatically drop if you don’t like the professor—having a good relationship with them is important, but one bad teacher for a class you really need to take isn’t too much to handle now and then.
Good luck and happy studies!
You’ve made it this far. You’re one year away from graduation, and aside from feeling anxious and excited, you’ve also got that bittersweet feeling that won’t go away. Where will your friends be next year? Where will you be?
Well, don’t think about that right now. Make your senior year something memorable, something you will value for years to come. You don’t want to remember your senior year as the year you worried about everything coming after it. Consider these three points to make your final year the best it can be:
1. Commit a moderate amount of time to studying
Whether you’re under-loading on classes your final semesters, writing a thesis, or taking a normal class load, you still can’t forget that your last set of grades are just as important as the rest. Spend a considerable amount of time making sure you get your work in by your deadlines (no Senioritis, thank you!), and if you happen to slip up a couple times, just don’t make a habit of it. It’s important to keep up your grades and sense of commitment to your courses. After all, you’re going to need that same type of discipline after you graduate.
2. Be sure to get out and have fun
Sometimes people focus too much on work, and don’t get out with their friends to have a good time once in a while. Don’t overdo it (partying all nights of the weekend every weekend is a bit excessive for any year of college). Find a good balance between work and play. That is true for your college experience in general. By senior year you should have a good grasp of that—however, most seniors are newly 21 and might go out more often than before due to less drinking restrictions. Just have good sense and judgment. You know how much work has been required in your last three years. Be sure to go off of that so you can gauge how much time you’ll need to commit to everything else.
3. Stay in your extracurricular activities
If you start to feel burnt out of everything you’re involved in after class, think hard about what you still want to be involved in. Being in a club or other campus organization for multiple years is a great way to gain experience in that field and also looks good on a resume. But don’t stay just for the resume boost. Unless you realize the groups you’re involved with are no longer of interest to you, I highly recommend retaining your level of commitment to them. Don’t get too lazy your senior year, otherwise you could end up quite bored. It’s all about maintaining a sense of consistency across your four years.
You want your senior year to stand out, but you also don’t. Find that equilibrium. Be sure to study hard, but also to play hard, and graduate from your school with a bang. Your last year should be the pinnacle, representative of the most recent and lasting memories you have of your undergraduate career. Make this one count!
While there may not be real school bells ringing, or yellow buses picking you up, it’s obvious that school has once again started. For many, it’s their first time at college. And for others, it’s the start of their last year, and final few semesters. Even though everyone is at a different starting point, we can all learn from some simple “start of the semester” advice.
Whatever happened last semester—whether in college or high school—it doesn’t have to happen again. If you were less than pleased with your performance, or really want to strive for something different, you still can.
Each semester marks a new slate, a chance to do and be something different. Maybe you got all A’s, or maybe you never even went to class. Either way, you call the shots. The beginning of the semester marks a special moment when you get a choice—you get to decide who you want to be and how you want to act.
I’ve had friends go all through college not applying themselves—not going to class, partying all the time, pretending they didn’t care about their future or their GPA. But then something changed. All of the sudden we came back from summer and they were setting goals, and really working hard. When I asked them about it, it was simple. It took a while to focus, to figure out what was next for them, but with graduation looming in the not too distant future a plan of action was necessary. Lucky for them, the new semester and the new year allowed for the change. With new classes, new professors, and a clean GPA slate—hey we all start with a 4.0—they were able to paint a different picture for themselves, one that didn’t involve not going to class.
The saying “out with the old, in with new” has never held truer. You can forget your bad final, or your slacker high school days and start fresh. Make a plan of attack for this fall semester and set some goals. And maybe you aren’t concerned with the type of student you are, and instead you need goals for something else. Take involvement for example. Have you be less than a social butterfly for the last few years? Ready to get outside your dorm room and mingle on campus? It’s not too late. Nothing is set in stone in college; you have time to do whatever your heart desires. Juniors and seniors join clubs, not just freshmen. Don’t think that because you didn’t do it before, you can’t do it now. The start of the semester is a great time for change as long as you take advantage of it—it won’t be as easy later.