College, part 1

I’m writing this title as “part 1” because I doubt this will be the last time I write about how strange college is. I’m here to aggregate a list of things that I wish I would have known before my first semester, but since I didn’t, I’ll leave them here for future freshmen.

Choosing a good schedule is everything. This includes knowing when the classes you want are offered and trying to make your classes start and end at the same time every day. Regular sleep patterns are better than sleeping in until ten two days every week and having an 8:35 class the other three (speaking from experience here).

Don’t wait until the last weekend to do a big project for any class. You’ve probably heard this before, but the consequences are so much worse than in high school. Two pages don’t hold a candle to ten, and “make sure to cite your sources” doesn’t hold a candle to “you need a minimum of ten sources, five of which must come from non-internet locations.” The papers aren’t meant to be procrastinated. If you get a month to do a paper, it’s probably for a good reason.

You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do in your first semester. Most college programs don’t branch out until sophomore year, anyway. My engineering program wouldn’t even let us choose our specific majors until last Friday, and I had no idea that I wanted to pursue political science until I took an introductory class on it in my first semester.

Yes, regardless of how many hours you’re in, college is incredibly stressful, but no, credit hours and stress levels are not proportional. My 15 hours last semester were worse than my 18 hours this semester, collectively. In other words, my panic when scheduling classes for this semester was useless.

Forgetting to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner is a very real thing, and it’s not a very good very real thing. When in doubt, grab a friend and go to your favorite dining hall. Or, if you’re out of meals, make ramen noodles. If you don’t like ramen noodles, you should learn to like ramen noodles.

Coffee is your friend (and 75% of my bloodstream). It can keep you from falling asleep in morning classes and on your homework. Use it sparingly, however, unless you want to develop a complete immunity to caffeine.

Most importantly, have fun. Don’t worry about how many friends you make; just make good ones. (Also, don’t take this advice too far and have too much fun.)

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