You Got into Your Dream College. Now What? How to Avoid Confusion and Stress and Successfully Navigate College and Live Happily Ever After
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There are many articles that talk about how to get into college. They talk about the importance of test scores and GPA. And the dreaded essays to the college. People, including us, advise to stand out by taking interesting internships, playing a niche sport, or just being different. But what do you do when you do get into the college of your dreams? How do you navigate college? What are the optimal ways of learning skills critical to your future, of socializing, of making the most out of college? Here are some tips of what not to do.
1. Denying the Overwhelm
You will be overwhelmed! You are in a new environment, and perhaps for the first time, away from home living on your own. It can be exciting but overwhelming at the same time. There are so many things to consider. The housing. The logistics of getting to school. The class requirements. New people to deal with. Lunch. Dinner. Etc.
We recommend that you should, if possible, visit your college a few times before starting your first semester (quarter). Get to know your college as your housing ahead of time. Know where the bookstore is, and the library.
2. Using College for the Credential Only
Eric Johnson, guidance counselor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says, “The more you regard college as a credentialing exercise, the less likely you are to get the benefits.”
The wisest students, he said, “move into a peer relationship with the institution rather than a consumer relationship with it.” They seize leadership roles. They serve as research assistants.
We recommend you follow Johnson's advice. Find the leadership roles. Leadership roles are not just about being a club president or a team captain. You can become a research assistant to a professor you like. You can tutor students. Etc.
3. Ignoring the Most Important Relationship
Most students don’t fully understand that perhaps the most important relationships they can form is with the faculty. It is often hard to identify professors worth knowing, especially those who are accessible to students. Often top professors are too busy to mentor students. However, students must identify professors who can mentor them and help them navigate college.
4. Failure to Introspect
“You have to ask yourself what lies closest to your heart,” said Jim Gates, a renowned theoretical physicist at Brown University.
Many students going to college do not know what they want. They fail to introspect an ask themselves what lies closest to their hearts. But how do you introspect? It is easy to give a lecture about and actually doing it. Here are some tips. Ask the following questions:
5. Worrying About the Wrong Things
Many students worry about the wrong things in college. They worry about finances (you can always get a loan). They worry about what others, especially their peers think (they are not going to pay your bills!). Etc.
Your job in college is to learn and make the most of this privilege and opportunity. In today's world, too many students have an entitlement mentality, that they are entitled to things, including a college education. That is a wrong and bad attitude. You should focus on learning and making the most of the precious years you have in college.
If you focus in college and do your utmost, you will blossom in your career. As Professor Gates said, “If you are fortunate enough to find something that you’re totally obsessed with, you’re likely to work very hard at it. If you’re a human being of average intelligence and you work very hard at something, you’re likely to become very good at it. And if you become very good at it, people are likely to notice.” That means they’re likely to employ and reward you as well.
When heading off to college, you want to do everything in your power to make sure the first semester is stress-free. College is a massive change, one symbolic of a coming-of-age moment and adulthood. It’s the first time the bird leaves the nest and must fend for themselves in the real world. Creating a stress-free first semester has a lot do with preparation. You need to ensure that you have the proper items and tools to navigate the new terrain that is your college life—otherwise the environment can quickly turn chaotic.
The better prepared you are, the more you ensure that your livelihood, anxiety, and happiness are at their most optimal levels. Embrace the change, let excitement fuel your days, and know that your first college semester is going to be one of the most memorable epochs of your life. The tips below will help you stay stress-free during this riveting and joyous time.
Create a List
Chaos begets stress. The new environment that college provides might make you feel out of place. Things you once took for granted are no longer available and, for better or worse, everything is foreign. That’s why it’s important to make a list of the comforts you have now. What’s your routine like? What sort of products do you use in your everyday life? This can be as mundane as your morning walk, to as unique as the specific type of soap you love. By creating this list of your everyday ‘necessities,’ you can pack them up and take them with you. There’s nothing like having little pieces of home when moving to an unfamiliar place.
According to recent studies, 70% of students gain weight during their time in college academia. The freshman 15, while an exaggerated measurement, is absolutely rooted in truth. Weight gain isn’t the focus here, though, it’s the lifestyle. In this new fast-paced environment, it’s easy to forgo eating well or exercising in exchange for hitting homework deadlines and maintaining a social life. But a healthy lifestyle equals a healthy mind, and stability fosters productivity. Remember to stay active, eat well, and focus on your overall health even when the pressure of difficult deadlines fills you with stress.
Keep a Schedule
Now that you’re in a new environment, with classes and obligations piling up, it’s easy to lose track of a consistent schedule. But professionals recommend ironing one out. Structure this schedule around your classes and take into consideration time spent on homework. Identify places where you can take care of yourself (like exercising, meditating, or napping) and work to make it happen. Ensure that this schedule can complement a healthy sleep cycle, since negating your body’s natural rhythm will create a higher propensity for stress.
Bring the Right Stuff
Packing for college isn’t easy. You need bedding, school supplies, bathroom essentials, and a myriad of other day-to-day items. Yet, you want to be sure to check off as many things as possible before shipping off. Overpacking is a good thing in this case. Make sure to also look into the best HP laptop for college so you’re prepared to pound out essay after essay. These days, most professors upload important documents and materials online so you can access your class necessities anywhere at any time.
Keep a Keen Perspective
College is exciting! From the friends you’re going to make, the extracurricular activities, the nights out and Greek life, it’s a place that keeps on giving. Yet, your biggest goal here is no longer passing the standardized test. You’re taking four years of your life to achieve a college diploma—and gain important life skills in the process. Remember, your education is the priority. While everything that surrounds this pursuit may be intoxicating, it’s important to keep your perspective fresh. Every year students drop out of college because they were too consumed by the exciting environment. It’s easy for the fast-lane college lifestyle to derail students—don’t let it be you.
The first semester of college is, for most of us, the beginning of our ‘adult’ lives. Remember, this is a massive change. You’re literally inventing yourself alongside your peers. Embrace the new terrain, open yourself up to new opportunities, but stay focused and healthy to ensure you’re both effective in academia and stress-free. If you’re feeling stressed, worry not. It’s all part of cutting your teeth.
Guest post by: Adam Pepka
Adam enjoys a comfortable life in Tucson, Arizona but is proud of the humble beginnings from which he came. Growing up reading authors such as Timothy Ferris, and feeling inspired by their bootstrap beginnings, Adam was determined to find financial freedom himself. He soon became a successful real estate mogul after one deal led to another, and not long after Adam began his own fix-and-flip enterprise. Aspiring investors and HGTV fans alike enjoy reading his blog about the various challenges and accomplishments he finds in each property renovation, as well as the tips and tricks he suggests for those considering their own fixer-upper. In between remodels, Adam enjoys teaching his audience about various investment strategies and how any Average Joe like himself can build a profitable portfolio. Apart from real estate, he’s very much interested in Silicon Valley, venture startups and the technology industry. He watches that arena with a careful eye, and is the first to alert his readers to major news or events.
A Hillview Prep graduate, Cindy, is going to college this year! Exciting times, but she is also a bit apprehensive. We asked her what is she worried about. She said: her room mate!!
Room mate? We asked. Cindy said, yes. We asked her why is that a big concern? She said that the room mate gives her the creeps. She does not like her at all. We asked her how did she meet her room mate. And Cindy said it was via roomsync.com.
This app is a great idea, and we asked Cindy how did she pick her room mate. She said it was the room mate who picked her! Cindy said she does not like her room mate's personality and other things. We asked her why didn't she just say 'No'??
And that is the problem. Too many people are afraid to say 'no'. They think saying 'no' is hurting other people. In fact, nothing can be further than the truth. A 'no' protects you. It gives you time to consider your decision. A hurried 'yes' is the worst decision you can make.
Since you will be living with someone for at least a year in your freshman year, you should take the time to get to know people. Roomsync is great, but you should take time to get to know the person. Do a Skype call. See the other person in action. If possible, even go meet the other student and her family.
Technology can speed up finding things and making connections. However, it does not necessarily help you make a good decision. Don't be seduced by technology.
What will Cindy do? We don't know, but we have some tips for you to find a good room mate.
In a previous post, we talked about one of the greatest fear some students have in going to college. This post will discuss the second biggest fear in college. Can you guess what it is?
We have a student at Hillview Prep who is a good student but is apprehensive in going to college. She is going to a great school, one of her top choices, but she is nervous.
She is nervous about doing well in school.
This is a very common concern, and it is definitely not misguided. The expectations in college are much higher than in school. Often bright students underestimate what it takes to succeed in college and simply burn out. A lot depends on your high school background. For example, we have a student who did not take any programming courses in high school. For college he chose electrical engineering, and in his classes he encountered C++. He crashed. Some of his fellow high school friends had no problems because they knew Python and/or Java. The student also struggled in other courses despite being an 'A' student in high school. He needed to do some courses to bridge the gap from high school to college. He didn't know that there was a major gap in knowledge between high school and college that he needed to bridge. So he crashed and burned. He left his college and went to a community college, where he is taking courses that amount to bridge courses.
Then there are kids who got top grades in high school and earned high SAT/ACT scores. In college, they continue their hard work, but somehow fall behind. There are several reasons. Students struggle to wake up in time for class, procrastinate on long-term assignments, and neglect to do their work without the kinds of reminders and cues that their parents and school teachers used to provide. Unlike high school, where performance is closely tracked, in college you just have mid-terms and then the final grade. Often, professors in big universities are better researchers than teachers, so students struggle and have to learn everything on their own.
If you are struggling in college, or are concerned about how to approach college, here are some tips to do well.
A Hillview Prep student is going to college this fall, to UC Davis. She is a good student, talented and makes her own money working during the summer. She knows what she wants. She is becoming more and more independent. She is exciting about going to college, to pursue her passion of what she wants to do in her life.
Yet she is apprehensive about college. Can you guess her two big fears?
Her two big fears are not making friends and not getting good grades in college.
We will address her one big fear in this blog post: not making friends. Here are 7 tips to make friends in college.
1. Be yourself.
Many self-conscious students are afraid to be themselves. Often, they fear what people think of them. Maybe they will be rejected by their peers. That is a big error and will cost you angst and grief. Don't care about what others think of you. You should focus on your values, what is important to you and you will find people in college you share your interests and personality. Also, often you may be attracted to people with a different personality. If you are an introvert, you may enjoy the company of an extrovert, and vice-versa.
Our student at Hillview Prep is an introvert. She does not like approaching people. Well, you don't have to do much. Just be yourself and the right people will come to you. The only thing you have to do is go mingle with your peers.
2. Make the dorm your second home.
Dorms are filled with other college freshmen going through similar experiences. Reach out to them and just say hello, even if you are shy. Just say hello. You will be surprised what reaction you will get. You will find many are eager to make friends too and share the same fear of not making friends like you do. Some will be rude or just reject. This may not be a bad thing, since they are either not the right fit for you, or they are reacting out of fear. Say hello again to them later, and they may reciprocate.
The Hillview Prep student loves to bake. We suggested she should bake cookies. People would come like bees to honey!!
3. Do extracurriculars.
Invest in your hobbies! Whatever they are, you will find something on campus. If you can't find it, create your own club. Extracurriculars are a great way to meet people and make friends and invest in your interests.
4. Never eat alone!
As Keith Ferrazi, author of 'Never Eat Alone' suggests to have meals with people. People have bonded over food throughout history. College is no different. Go out for meals with friends or to make new ones.
5. Be curious
Show interest in other people, especially those you like and are genuinely interested in. People will sense that you are interested in them and will talk to you. Remember, people love talking about themselves!
6. Join an intramural or club sports team.
Sports are a great way to meet new people and stay healthy. Join a sports team and have fun. If you are not competitive, join inter-murals and meet people who just like to play and have fun.
7. Get a job.
Often, getting a job as a tour guide, a clerk in the bookstore or cafeteria, or working for a professor will allow you to form common bonds with other students. And you will make money and learn useful skills.
8. Invite solitary people.
There are many shy students and those who are focused on their activities. Some are athlete students and don't have much time to socializing. If you like their activity, say running, ask them if you could join them. They would appreciate that and you may end up developing a good friendship.
So don't be fearful. You will make friends. Just keep it simple. Be curious and open to meeting new people.