10 Things I Learned in College
As a graduating senior in college, I’m pretty sure I’m qualified to write advice about this now. In 3 months, I’m finally going to be finished with my undergraduate career (assuming none of my classes get cancelled). Here’s some fun facts about me: I went to a community college right after high school. I was there for about 3 years and then transferred to a university and to finish up my bachelor’s degree. Okay, enough about me. Let’s get to it.
1. Don’t overload on units
When you register or enroll in classes, only take what you can handle. 12 units is considered a full-time student. Depending on where you go to school, that can either be 3-4 classes per semester or quarter. I know it can be tempting to want to take as many units as you can during a semester because you want to finish faster, but it can totally be destructive if you overload yourself. Keep in mind that 12 units equates to an average of 36 hours of work per week. If you’re serious about wanting to take more than 12 units, in your first semester start at 12 units and then slowly increase your units each semester once you figure out your time management and study habits.
2. Go to class
Seriously. I know it can be tempting to stay at home (but if you’re sick, please stay home) and do nothing, but it’s going to hurt you in the long run. You will miss out on a lot for just missing one lecture. College tuition is so expensive, and you (or your parents) are paying to be in class. You are paying hundreds or thousands of dollars just to be educated, do not take that for granted.
3. Sit in the front of the class (or try to)
Sitting in the front of the class will force you to listen to the lecture and absorb the information. I also find that it’s less tempting to fall asleep or not pay attention because the professor is right in front of you.
4. Study in a place without distractions
I think people don’t realize how important it is to find a study space where you can be productive. It’s common sense to find a brightly lit room, but sometimes that room is associated with the place where you want to relax. For example, I used to try to study in my bedroom on my desk. Although it was clean and the lighting in the room was fine, it was hard to get things done. I think it was because I was always tempted to lay down on my bed — which I did a lot. That was until I figured out that a library or the downstairs formal dining room in my parents’ house was the best place to study. And because of that, my grades improved.
5. Don’t be THAT person in group projects
Here’s a personal story. Just three weeks ago, I had a group project for one of my classes where we were required to have a presentation and write a group paper. There was three of us in a group and there was one student in my group who did not contribute their fair share of work and when they did contribute, it was not the best quality of work either. When we met up as a group to work on our presentation, this person came a half hour late and came in empty handed. This person expected me and my other group member to edit their PowerPoint slides and expected us to finish the PowerPoint presentation. On top of that, we were responsible to find accurate information and cite our resources in our group paper and this person did none of that — AND they didn’t bother to correct their grammar and cite their sources correctly. Please do your best in group projects and contribute your fair share of work.
JUST DON’T BE THAT PERSON. Because you will most likely get reported to the professor. Just saying.
6. If you’re struggling in a class, go to tutoring
I think it’s a huge misunderstanding when people think that going to tutoring means you’re incompetent. Going to tutoring is one of the wisest decisions you can make when you’re in college. Sometimes asking for help is not easy, but it’s necessary. And more than likely, your campus will offer free tutoring and your tutors will meet with you according to your schedule. If you truly want to succeed in a class you’re struggling with, ask for help.
7. Take advantage of the services your campus offers
Whether that means using the student health services on campus, joining clubs to network, using the career center, or getting accommodated for a documented disability, tutoring and etc. Make the most out of your tuition by utilizing the services your campus offers. As a student, I’ve utilized mental health counseling, disability accommodations, went to tutoring, and got connected with the career center — and it has helped me become a better student. Believe it or not, there are many people that work on your campus that want to help you succeed. You have nothing to lose to get the help you need.
8. Visit your academic advisor at least once per year
You’re responsible to know what classes you need in order to transfer or graduate. It is very likely that your academic advisor will NOT contact you and say, “Hey you’re taking the wrong classes, come see me!” It is up to YOU to visit your academic advisor and know what classes you need or don’t need to take. Your academic advisor is your resource to help you make a map to know what you need to graduate. They will help keep you on track. Even if your advisor is booked back to back, ask for drop-in hours and keep calling to make an appointment. And if you have a quick question that can’t wait, sometimes your college has peer advisors for that reason. Talk to them too, because they have the training and knowledge to point you in the right direction.
9. Get to know your professors
Not only are they there to lecture you in class, but they are a great resource in helping you find opportunities while you’re a student and even after you graduate. It’s also a perk if they know you well enough that they’ll write you a letter of recommendation for a job. I also find that it’s easier to communicate with my professors that know who I am — because most of the time they don’t know who you are unless you approach them. Visit them during office hours if you want them to explain what you didn’t understand in the lecture. Even ask them about their day, because they’re human too.
10. Last but definitely not least: if you need to take time off to focus on your health — DO IT
Whether it’s physical or mental health, please take care of yourself. I’m not just talking about missing one class due to a cold, but taking a semester off to take care yourself. School is important, but it’s not as important as your well-being. Your school will always be there. Sure, taking time off can mean a delay in your graduation but self-care is important and you will work best when you’re well.
Anyway, I hope this helps. I still have one more quarter left, but thinking about it ending actually makes me kind of sad because I will miss it. I think the memes I see online about college are definitely accurate because college is such a roller coaster. Sometimes you will cry and you will also have some of the best years of your life. In the end it will be so worth it. Appreciate your good and bad experiences in college because you will learn a lot about yourself.