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college tips

Top Lessons I Learned in College (And Not from a Textbook)

1.)  You don’t need to transfer schools or move across the country to somewhere more beautiful or exciting in order to be happy. Happiness is right where you are, and finding it is all a matter of changing your perspective on where you’re at.

2.)  You also don’t need to be perfect to be happy or accepted. Your real friends will love you even if you wear five shirts in the winter, prefer running clothes over “normal people” clothes, go to bed without showering after practice (and show up that way the next morning to practice. Yeah…we do this…), and if you talk to yourself while you do your homework. This is true friendship, kids, and it’s a beautiful thing. So don’t even try making your life perfect all the time—it’s a waste of energy (much like showering can be when you’re really, really sleepy.).

3.)  It’s okay to get a C in a hard class that you worked your butt off in. It’s also okay to get a couple of 40% on tests in really hard classes as well. As my dad likes to point out, even when I do this badly, the sun still shines the next day, and my friends still like me (see above) and the teachers of those classes still offer to write me letters of recommendation for grad school anyway. I would rather get a C and learn the material than get an A by memorizing and regurgitating the information. Whether or not you’re able to apply your knowledge is key!

4.)  While you don’t need to be perfect, don’t totally let yourself go. Take care of yourself…whatever that means to you.

5.)  Go with your gut, even if it means going down a path you’re not sure about. Even if it means changing majors late in the game. Even if it means trying something new. Trust me…you won’t regret it!

6.)  Having alone time is vital, yes, but don’t spend your whole life alone in your room with a book. This blog post is proof that the best lessons we learn aren’t the ones in the massive, overpriced books we rent each semester. And also, who makes memories with their textbooks? When was the last time a calculus book made you laugh so hard you said, “Please stop or I’m going to throw up!”? Make it a point to spend as much time as possible with the people you love.  Again, you won’t regret it (unless one of your friends finally does make you laugh so hard you get sick. Then you might a little.)

7.)  Along the lines of regrets: remember that the things we regret most are the things we don’t do. So if you want something…make it happen!

8.)  And finally: you are so much stronger, bolder, tougher, smarter, capable, and awesome than you think you are. Don’t ever doubt it. And if you find yourself with people who make you doubt it…well…they’re probably not worth it.

In true Carly fashion, I will close this last, final blog with a quote, the same one that’s been posted on my door since I got here in August for arguably the most memorable school year of my life:

“But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

-Jack Kerouac

Thanks for reading.

-Carly

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So maybe you think that since I’m a senior, with almost 4 years of college life behind me, I have it all figured out. Not really. I’m just making it up as I go. But I can offer some advice based on my past experiences, good and bad.  All things considered, looking back now – I think I made a pretty good run at it. So here are my thoughts:
1. If you’re thinking about playing a sport, and you have the chance to do it, do it. Being a collegiate athlete, even at the D-3 level, is an experience I will always treasure.
2. When that sport becomes stressful and unenjoyable and forced…quit. I quit track and cross country after 3 and a half years (plus my years spent on teams in high school and grade school) because I was burnt out. It was the best decision I could have made. It’s important to experience college as just a normal student as well, not just a student-athlete.
3. If you don’t like sports or don’t want to play, that’s fine. But join something. You’ll meet people, and be able to participate in something you’re passionate about…or find something you never even knew you were passionate about. And hey, if they don’t have a club or organization that fits you, create one. I started an Environmental Club here at Fontbonne my freshman year and it’s been one of my proudest achievements ever.
4. Go out and have fun. The college life is a short one, and it’s unlike any other experience you’ll ever have. Live it up.
5. But don’t forget you have classes. And don’t fail them. You can rage 24/7 for about a semester before you’re gonna have to drop out. Pick a major that interests you, not just one you think will get you a well-paying job. I love the idea of being a dietitian someday, and the fact that I enjoy my dietetics classes really makes life better.
6. Stay somewhat organized. Find a method that works for you – I use the little sticky notes app on my Mac to make daily to-do lists for myself and note which assignments are due soon. I also write out all major assignments due in each class for the semester and tape the lists to my wall, so I can cross things out when I turn them in. Maybe that’s a little too intense for you, but you gotta stay track of things somehow or you’re gonna be stressed when you find out you had a paper due in class today.
7. BE KIND. Seriously. I hate to say it, but some people I’ve dealt with in college are just….mean. I’m not claiming to be a saint by any stretch, but it’s never a mistake to show kindness to someone. Everyone is going through life at a different pace, and the best choice you can make is to show love at every opportunity presented to you. You won’t ever regret it.

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.