So it’s Back to School season, and for the first time in [mumble, censor] years, I’m not getting ready for classes or working at a campus prepping for the onslaught of stampeding parents and new students.
I have been, however, shoulder deep in Back to School retail, and have been witnessing the masses purchase stacks upon stacks of…not books…but pants and polo shirts in navy blue, white, khaki, black, sky blue, and cardigans, and backpacks. (This almost turned into a post about wanting children, which would be fitting since this is the first time I’ve blogged since I’ve gotten married, ah thank you very much, but that wasn’t the goal. Another time.)
A few folks from the village are heading off to college, as is the younger brother of my best friend back in NorCal (high five, EJ!) and at a college send off party/fiesta, we went around the table and shared our bits of college advice. That really got me thinking about starting college, and being a couple years after the diploma (and still without the itch to start grad school), it felt a bit refreshing to think back on that first semester at community college and then at the transfer to The Beach (Go Beach!).
College is an interesting adventure—everyone’s experience is different, there are varying goals, definitions of success, and multiple ways to go about it. (How did this just become a post about losing your virginity? I’ll say it again…Another time. Maybe)
You probably already know to always wear sunscreen, so I’ll share some nuggets that I may have scribbled inside a locker, under the bleachers, or backstage behind the fly system ropes (high five for techies!)
1. Don’t register for a class before 10am.
2. If you need help learning about it or how to do it, there’s probably an office on campus that can help you with it. (Yes, even that.)
3. Skipping class gets easier each time you do it, so be careful.
4. Practice makes perfect (and yes, this applies to beer pong).
5. Your friends know you’re lying when you say, “I’m never doing THAT again.”
6. Sometimes you can buy books for cheaper from folks who took that class last semester.
7. You don’t need all your books on the first day.
8. Carry extra scantrons.
9. Study groups are awesome, but choose your study buddies wisely.
10. Take notes, if not to review later…to keep yourself active to stay awake.
11. Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors, they’re people too.
12. Take advantage of career centers/counselors, there’s nothing like finding out you’re short on credits when you think you’re walking with your friends next semester.
13. You define your goals.
14. Decide why you’re going to college: A—to get a degree that will leverage your job hunt. B—to follow an academic program in a discipline that you enjoy and find interesting. C—mommy and daddy said to. D—all of the above
15. People will judge your major. Whether you’re going into the arts, engineering, writing, or whatever. It’s your degree with your name on it, so follow a path you want to be on (see #14).
16. If there’s a pub on campus, don’t be afraid. It isn’t there to sidetrack your education, it’s there to hang out with (and meet) friends.
17. Do more than go to class and take tests.
18. Go to sporting events.
19. Join a club.
20. Be friends with your roommate(s).
21. Don’t move in with someone just because you’re friends. There’s a lot more to living together than you think (especially if you’re moving into a place for the first time).
22. Don’t be afraid to cry—it’s your body letting off some energy you don’t need to hold onto.
23. Hug at least five people every day.
24. Compliment people you don’t know when you’re walking by.
25. See a theatrical production on campus.
26. Smile—you’re taking advantage of an education that many dream of.
27. Don’t be afraid to make new friends.
28. Know that your circle of friends will change. It’s ok.
29. Take breaks.
30. Cramming isn’t for everyone.
31. Learn about your school and take some pride in it.
32. Don’t take everything as law, you may get tossed some false information from upperclassmen.
33. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
34. Call home.
35. Visit your friends.
36. Don’t force yourself to come home if you don’t want to.
38. Research scholarships
39. Find a get away spot on campus. A quiet corner, special bench, or long hallway, somewhere where you can be you for five minutes when it gets crazy.
41. Drink water.
42. Get there early. Especially if you’re looking for parking.
43. Don’t feel bad about going to a community college first.
44. Be honest with yourself, if a class isn’t working out (for whatever reason: the teacher, the time slot, the material), don’t be afraid to drop it and find another course that fulfills the requirement (if available).
45. Be honest with yourself. (Yes, this deserves repeating, especially for just general understanding.)
46. Bring snacks.
47. One day (but hopefully more than once), you may find yourself on campus around sunrise or sunset before it’s riddled with people. It’ll be quiet, peaceful, and it’ll be one of the calmest moments you’ll have that semester. Stop where you are and take a breath. Remember this moment for later when it isn’t so calm.
48. Take pictures.
49. Make lists.