It has come to my attention that this is the time of year where survival guides are around every corner and found on nearly every site. Unfortunately, I find they lack substance. They are either written by someone in their 30s who’s friend’s sister is going into their freshman year at the state college or an 18-year-old about to embark on the ‘greatest years of their life’ which is why beer is always their number one priority. I’ve decided to take a moment and reflect on my years at an urban university, which I am still academically enslaved, and point out some of the things I wish I had been told or tips that I never found in any “Guide to your college career” nonsense.
1. Academic Advisors: Friend or Foe?
For all the young ones trying to pull together their schedule for their first semester of college life, an academic advisor is your best friend…to an extent. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, that can serve as lesson one. An academic advisor is someone you can go to for help choosing classes based on your requirements to graduate. Beware! There are academic advisors for both the general education requirements and the major requirements. When in doubt, always go to the advisor for your major. Not only will they know the ins and outs of what classes you need to take for your major but they also have a hefty knowledge of the general education requirements.
2. Caffeine Flows Like Water
I feel like this should be common knowledge but there are warnings to behold. College is hard especially if you have a mentally demanding major like biology, medicine, mathematics, etc., so sleep becomes something of legend. Starbucks, Bigby, Tim Hortons, campus cafes and McDonalds have lines you’ll be waiting in for anywhere between five minutes to a half hour just in the name of staying awake to make it through your next lecture. Lattes, coffees, teas and even that gross stuff you get from the small shop that is just water and powder dispensed for $1 is flowing like mad. Be careful! Too many coffees and energy drinks can cause serious harm. After all, what’s the point of your heart exploding during the midterm? It’s not like it’ll excuse you for the rest of semester.
Nerding out on your favorite shows like Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones or Sherlock is all good but not when you have a paper due the next day. Time management may seem low on the list but there’s ALWAYS something that needs to be done and usually you don’t realize it until it’s too late and you have to stress your way through it. Turn the television, smart phone and tablet off and get to work!
4. Power of the “Power nap”
Sleep is a myth. When you couple the amount of readings and homework assignments you have to do, you realize that you have no time for such pointless things as sleep. Instead you should look into the art of power napping. It’s best to keep it 30 minutes to an hour because the less you get the less groggy you will be afterward but the relief you feel for the next few hours because you were able to catch some zzz’s is so worth it.
5. Your Phone is the Apple, You are the Tree
One of the biggest problems facing crimes on campuses is called “Apple Picking”. Though named after iPhones, the term is often generally used when describing mass cell phone theft. Avoid having your smart phone on display as you walk between buildings and for the sake of seeming like you have common sense, DO NOT leave your phone out on a table top while at an outdoor café, in the student center or at the library.
Of course there are plenty more but let’s be serious, nobody wants to talk about the not so ideal part of college life. There are obvious ups and downs along with a few bumps, pot holes and fallen trees in the road but you still get through it no matter how hard it seems to get. I’m not trying to be the Debbie-Downer but at least you’ve all been warned. Good luck with your fall semester!