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College is Hard. I Have Some Tips! Undergraduate Edition.

So, College is Hard, and That's Okay.

I am assuming you are considering going to college or you are in college and need a girl to help you out. Great! I am here just for that reason or to help anyone who needs this advice. I just graduated (May 2021) with my undergraduate degree in psychology (as well as a minor in graphic design) from Shorter University. My university was a super small Christian college with the largest class size I had maybe had 35 people in it. This is not the case for everyone BUT I think my experience and tips can apply over to many different university experiences.

Living on or Off-Campus

For the last 4 years, I spent my spring and fall semesters living in a dorm on campus. I did go home every weekend and some weekdays which over an hour's drive (I'm glad I have a Honda that can handle some miles). I chose to live on campus because I did not want to make that dive every day and it gave me the "college experience". I chose my school to be far enough away to live on campus but close enough to come home when I wanted. Living on campus is great because you are right there with everything you need, the food, library, your classes, and friends. You also save time not having to drive to and from home every day. Time is valuable in college and every minute you can save time is a great idea to invest. I love living on campus because everything was so close to me. If I had a class at 8:00 am I could wake up at 7:40 and be walking out my door at 7:53 walking to class (small campus). Sleep is also important and cutting out a drive to my classes was a big plus for me. My school had the "Hawks Nest" a café in the library. My school put $100 of the money we pay them onto a card that can be used at these locations. This gave me meals from the Hawks Nest (burgers, chicken, etc) and then all types of bottled drinks and snacks. The café had lots of drinks, coffee, and snacks. Sometimes I would get too busy to cook (I did not eat in the cafeteria after my 1st year as it was very mysterious) and these two locations right next to my building were a blessing. You also have an opportunity to participate in on-campus events easier and make friends because living on campus makes people close (for better or worse).

Living on campus had its challenges. My building was old, pollen would get in, the windows didn't seal well so bugs and wind would blow through, we had wall AC units (not in every the living rooms they dint have anything), and I got sick a lot. I got sick every single year multiple times a year living on campus and my allergies were awful. This is common with college and I also have a weak immune system. Roommates and suitemates can be a pain but that's not always the case. I had a great roommate but I had issues with suitemates. My last year I had a single room which was a bedroom and living room and it was great but it did get lonely (also every single one of my friends had graduated the year before).

Some people choose to live off-campus and I can not speak much for this. Make sure to check with your college on their policies for living off-campus because there are often stimulations and some do not allow it. Also, you have to consider if you are going to rent an apartment you will also need to work a job that will pay for that into your time you have, and renting can get expensive.

What to Bring To Live On Campus

A college dorm is almost empty when you move in beside a desk, bed, dresser, and bathroom (private or communal). When moving into a dorm it is good to have these things.

  1. A microwave.

  2. A mattress mad (most places do not let you bring your own mattress so they can be uncomfortable and.. mysterious).

  3. dishes (save the planet and wash some dishes).

  4. Coffee maker.

  5. Some good décor to make it feel like home.

  6. Enough clothes so you do not have to do laundry all the time.

  7. A laptop (school computers suck so if you can afford a laptop get one, it will save your life).

  8. Multiple outlet surge protectors. Lots of college dorm buildings are old and do not have many outsets and it will help keep your stuff safe in a storm.

  9. Small Boxes (such as shoe boxes) are good for putting in your dresser to organize your socks and undies for example).

  10. If your dorm room has a living room couches are great and I loved having one because it made the dorm feel so much more like home

  11. TV trays. Need I say more?

How I Keep Myself On Schedule To Graduate?

At my university, they gave us course catalogs. This was every class we needed to take to get our degree. You need to live by that! You also need to talk with your advisor and ask these questions. Do any of these classes require prerequisites? Are any of these classes only offered at certain times or certain seasons? Write all that down. What I did next was open excel and when ahead and made all of my schedules until I graduated with that information. Sometimes things changed because maybe a class wasn't offered anymore or a spring class is now a fall class, etc... This is still a good way to schedule yourself. Also, ask upperclassmen to rate some of the classes, if there are several super hard classes try to space them out. Also, take any prerequisites as early as your can. That way you do not find yourself in a pickle later.

What is a Credit and How Many Credits Should I Take?

This all depends on the person. For my undergraduate degree, I was working on a major in psychology and a minor in graphic design and graduated in 4 years. This means I took about 15 credits (5 classes at 3 credits each) each semester. Some years it would be 16 or 17 because a class (like science and lab) was worth more credits. You have to think that in every class you're in there is a potential for a lot of work and you have midterms and finals when all (or most) your classes will be wanting exams or projects due. I have some learning disabilities and I was able to manage this schedule. Now my professors were super amazing and helpful whenever I had questions or needed help which is not always available at every university. I would try your first year out at 15 credits and see how it does. My first 2 years were the hardest because every class ran the same. 1-2 papers, 3-4 exams so they were all at about the same time. My 3rd and 4th year had fewer exams and more projects and papers which I liked.

Textbook Prices.

Don't buy them tell you are 1000000% sure you need them. In my first few years, I bought every book because I was told I would need them. It was a waste of money. Wait until you know for sure if you can because even classes where I thought I was going to need them. My last year I did not use 1 textbook. This is not the case for every major or class. I probably could have gotten better grades if I used the textbook but I had no extra time as it was anyways.

Time Management & Self Care

Each semester will be slightly different depending on your workload. My best study/homework method was my 30/45 rule (you can customize it if you want). I would do whatever I wanted for 30 minutes and chill then for 45 minutes I would study hard. I would set timers for this as well. If I was in the 45 minute study period and my timer went off or I was in the zone big time I would work over. Sometimes I would change it into a 20m/1h study schedule. Or no time at all for example write 3 paragraphs and we will take a break for ___ amount of time. It is always good to set a timer so you know when it's time to get back to work!

Another important thing is if you can meal plan or eat in the cafeteria. Create a shower schedule. Create a constant sleep schedule. Your body needs to be regularly fueled by good food. You need to keep up personal hygiene (seems easy but when you get so busy it's easy to forget). Lastly sleep is so important!! Create as close to a consistent schedule as your can and if your sleep in a few days or take a nap that fine but don't let yourself have too much. Only do it when you absolutely need it. Besides that try to stay on that schedule.

You Can Do It!

You can do this. I can't believe I did it. I have a couple of different learning disabilities that would make you think that I couldn't do it. I did though and I am so proud. I could not have done it without God's strength. God is the only one strong enough, and wise enough to get me through everything I went through. School is hard, life is hard, and God helped me every step of the way.



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