You walk through a concrete courtyard. Unfamiliar buildings that line said courtyard tower above you. You walk through crowds of strangers to get to your destination, math class.
Okay, that may be a little mellow dramatic. However, the principle of attending a school you have never been to before, with people you have never met, and studying something that sounded interesting but is now utterly confusing is all too real to those who have attended (and are attending) college.
Now there are plenty of great things about college. New friends, fun activities and parties, and a completely different experience await. The problem is that when classes get tough and deadlines loom over your head it is easy to forget those things. The goal is to persevere through college to get your degree. Believe me, you will need strong perseverance at times. The trick is how to do so.
Planning is a critical skill to develop if you want to last through those college years. Some students like to wing things, flying by the seat of their pants in a whirlwind of almost forgetting assignments and neglecting the important things that need attention. If you can plan, you can persevere. Weekly planning is a great way to alleviate a great amount of stress.
Every Sunday, I would sit down and divide my assignments up for the week. This came with a number of benefits.
- First, everything got done. I wouldn’t forget assignments they were all assigned a day in which they would get done.
- Second, there is less work to do when it is divided up over the entire week. Procrastination becomes an art form in college, though it really does not need to be that way.
The second aspect of planning is your semester planning. Set an academic plan and stick to it. Become very familiar with the course sequence of your degree so you know what classes are coming up when. If you are able to plan the more difficult classes in your major to be taken with some required classes with a lighter load, your whole life will feel the benefit.
Closely linked to planning is routine. Make and stick to a routine. College makes this fairly easy to accomplish. You have classes and a set time each week. Now that you know when you need to be in class, plan your homework, work schedule, gym time, free time, etc. around it. It is amazing how much time you find when you budget your time wisely.
Work Before Fun
No one wants to hear this. I’m going to say it anyway because if you don’t get this down, persevering through college will not be easy. You absolutely need to set priorities. Identify what is most important and make it happen. Most days I finished classes in the late afternoon and then worked on homework. I worked a job from 9 pm to midnight my first three semesters of college. I gave up a lot of social opportunities as a result of this, but I was able to provide for myself and do well in most of my classes.
Putting priorities first will allow you to be successful. Saying no to going out with friends is hard, but sometimes necessary to get your degree.
Fun is Critical
Now what I said before still holds true. However, you need to have fun. You need to enjoy yourself. It is critical that you do that. You need to unstring the bow at times. Doing so, albeit wisely, will help you relax and relieve stress. Find things you enjoy doing and do them in moderation. Stay at home and watch some of your favorite Netflix series. Hangout with your friends. Go on a date. This is a unique time in your life, and you will make great friendships and have incredible experiences.
Keep the End Goal in Mind
There is a purpose to being at college. You want a degree. The culmination of countless assignments, hours, tears, dollars, frustrations, and tutoring appointments needs to end with you earning your degree. At least it gets better! There will come a time when all the effort you put into school will be worth it. It may not feel that way when you see your grades at the end of each semester, or when registering for more classes, or even when you walk across the stage as a graduate. At some point, eventually, it will be worth it.
College is a crazy time. Never have I been in a place where no one judges an emotional breakdown because we were all unreasonably close to that feeling, and I doubt I ever will be again. There are so many fun things you will experience, so many friends, and so many happy memories. There will also be many down times, a ton of due dates, seemingly unlimited frustration, and so many nights when you want to quit. Don’t quit. It will all be worth it. Eventually, I promise you, college will end