Things I regret not doing in college
So I graduated last year and now that I’m enrolling for my “MA” degree I’ve been thinking about those things I regretted from my BA years.
1. Go to class and sit up front. I know, no one wants to be the nerd sitting up front but thing is, lecturers and professors only see the first two rows and that means that they’ll remember you when exams times come. There’s the added bonus that you will be forced to take notes. (Always ask before recording a lesson btw)
2. Make Connections. Sure I got a couple of peers who I still hear from, but the connections I’m talking about here is the old boring guy lecturing you all day long. Start early and make friends with lecturers, they are people too and some of them are really lovely too. Also, it’ll be useful when you’ll have a thesis to write, as most lecturers would rather take under their wing a student they know for sure will be reliable than just risk getting a sloucher. So maybe if there’s you (the student the lecturer doesn’t know) with the same grades of a student that they know already, they won’t pick you. Ah, they can write recommendation letters when time comes and you want to get a certain job or doctorate.
3. Go to Conventions and Panels from experts. I was a International Relations Minor and we were given the possibility f attending various conventions and panels for free or half-price. Moreover my lecturers organised some themselves and invited us all. I only ever went to those that would be in the exam. That was a sad mistake, although rationally, I do live 30 mins of a risky train out of the campus. Anyway, if the thing isn’t too late at night, go!! First off, if you’re not interested in “more” then you’re not interested enough in what you’re studying in the first place, secondly - those conventions is where you can make connections that will come in hand later.
4. Pick up the phone and just ask. College bureaucracy is fucking hell and their websites are even worse so don’t be afraid of picking up the phone and call the administration or whatever they offer as “student care”. I remember my course was experimental still, so we had procedures for the damn bureaucracy that were different from all other courses and they were just all over the place. It was hell, and somehow the administration decided we didn’t need a “how to graduate” faq page like every other course on the course webpage, so they just held this meeting once a year with lecturers that didn’t even know what they were doing anyway (no one did tbh). Of course we all ended up blowing up the stupid administration bureau for weeks until they eventually realised that maybe writing down the whole stuff was easier for every party involved.
So yeah literally just ask, chance are it’s a question they’ve heard a billion times before already. (Write an email first, but consider that they usually reply with “it’s written on the website” without even pointing out where. It could be an automatically generated answer tbh)
5. Eat well! I can’t stress this point enough. I’m not saying not to eat junk, but be sure to get all the nutrients you need. Some universities offer blood work for free. Get it tested (stds too, ince you’re at it anyway). If you’re missing nutrients like iron, studying will be way slower and sometimes even pointless. I made this mistake and had really bad chronic fatigue up until a few weeks ago because, yes my iron was not too low, but coupled with my mild anaemia and being a vegetarian it made my life way harder. Sometimes you feel tired and stressed and it just happens that you’re low on some stupid nutrient.
6. DRINK AND SLEEP. okay?? I mean everyone pulls all-nighters close to exams, but don’t stay up for the sake of it (=tumblr). You will regret it the day after and you’ll regret it even more when you’ll have to spend the night studying. Also don’t pull all-nighters the night before an exam. It probably won’t help any and you’ll be dead tired for the exam. AND DRINK WATER. no!, tea and coffee don’t count. you need water to function. Drink 8 glasses everyday, more if you are going to end up drinking alcohol. When you take a break from studying, drink some water. It’ll help restore concentration.
7. Work a routine out and stick to it. I’m not talking about a daily routine, but take into account everything you want to do in your week, scratch out what is not a priority and work what’s left into a manageable routine. Leave “Free periods” in it, so that you will be able to “make time” and work any unexpected event/request/work/whim into your routine. Don’t be to rigid about it, but try to stick to it and tweak and change it as you go. A planner could come in hand, but whatever works for you it’s gold.
8. Make time for yourself. College is gruesome and it will burn you out if you don’t just stop, take a step back and spend some quality time with yourself. I personally drive myself into an early grave way too often, so much that I always end up sick after (and sometimes even during) my exams. Try not to follow that example.
9. Start thinking on your thesis now. Even if it’s 3 years away. Even if you have no clue what you want to work on. Hell, even if you already know what you’re going to do. Write down those weird ideas that come up during class or studying, write down those weird questions you ask yourself at 3 am the day before an exam. Write down those shower thoughts you amuse yourself with. Those are all great ideas. At the end of all your courses, those are all starting lines, you’ll need all of the ideas you have, because thesis is one kind of hell that almost put me off permanently from higher education. Don’t let yourself write a thesis you don’t care for and you don’t like, if you can. Consider that your thesis is the first big actual step you take towards your dream job. Your thesis is something you can use in your career, it a publication you can even quote on your curriculum vitae. Make good use of it.
10. Don’t be afraid to change your course. This is not something I’ve been through but my brother is having a rough time. Sometimes you pick a course and you believe it’s the greatest ever, but six months in and it sucks, one year in and you hate it or you’re failing all your courses. Maybe it’s just not the course for you. Switch course if you can. You can drop out too if you feel that RATIONALLY it is not your path. Just don’t let self-pity and anger make decisions for you. There’s nothing shameful in changing course or dropping out. It might feel like a failure, but college is not for everyone - and your emotional and general well-being should not be strained just for education. Of course you can also take a year or a semester to figure things out, just don’t get lost in the system. Talk to a specialist if you feel the need, they will help.
Stay safe and healthy and don’t give up on yourself.