Ten Ways To Survive College

It’s hard to believe that my college graduation was almost two months ago. I feel like it just happened.

Graduation 2

After spending five years in college*, I’ve learned a thing or two on how to get through it and not freak out.

Remember when I wrote that guest post for Tina on how to Stay Healthy and Sane While Living a Hectic Life? Well, along those same lines, here are ten tips and tricks for surviving college. Feel free to add your own advice in the comment section! :-) 

  1. You don’t need to read everything your professor assigns you. When I first started college in 2005, I was overwhelmed with the hundreds of pages of required reading. I thought my professors were nuts. How could I possibly read 700 pages in three days? Easy! Don’t. What I learned? Skimming is OK. Read what you feel is the most important, and move on.
  2. Procrastinating leads to that end-of-the-semester freak-out phase. Don’t do it. Get assignments done early, and then while everyone around you is freaking out, you can find comfort in the fact that you’re already done.
  3. Class Presentations are not the end of the world. Nobody wants to do them. Nobody is paying attention anyway. If you stutter or forget what you were talking about, nobody is going to care, or remember it later. Your classmates are not going to sit down to lunch with their friends later in the day, and say, “Oh, that Rebecca sure sucks at presenting things!” Nobody is going to remember your presentation except for your professor. Just do it, and get it over with.
  4. If you get to pick when you do your presentation, sign up for the first day! If you’re choosing the last day to fight anxiety, you’re only stressing yourself out more. Here’s why: standards for presenting are lower on the first day, because no one is sure what the professor is expecting. If you wait until the last day, your presentation will have to be as good, or better than the ones before you. Also, if you go on the first day, you won’t have to think about it anymore. You’ll get to sit back, and watch everyone else nervously present.
  5. Don’t feel guilty for having a social life. Yes, you have essays to write, and tests to study for, but going out to dinner on a Saturday night with a friend isn’t going to hurt you. I used to feel so guilty for doing things that weren’t school-related on the weekends. But guess what, I got through each and every semester. Professors understand that you have a life outside of school.
  6. Set internal deadlines. So that paper is due two weeks from now? Tell yourself it’s due next week instead. That’s how I got through multiple 3,000 word essays in a semester. If it helps, use Google calendar to sort everything out.
  7. Don’t worry about everything all at once. I fell into this trap A LOT while I was in school. I knew I had 17 assignments due at the end of November, but it was only September 1st. How could I possibly get everything done? I thought. Relax. You’ll get through everything. Just set internal deadlines, write to-do lists, and don’t procrastinate, and you’ll be fine. Concentrate on what you have to do from day-to-day, not everything you have to do in a month.
  8. Write to-do lists for assignments. This, by far, is one of my best pieces of advice. I LOVE to-do lists. I especially love crossing things off of them. At the end of semester, I look back at my overall list of assignments, and take pride in the fact I accomplished so much.
  9. It’s OK to skip class every once in a while. You probably already know this, but you do not need to be sick to skip class. This isn’t high school. Usually, your professor allows you a set number of unexcused absences. Key word here: unexcused–meaning you don’t need any excuse at all to lay in bed all day on Twitter.
  10. Never be afraid to talk to your professors. You know how I said number eight was one of my best pieces of advice? Well, this is number one (even though it’s all the way at the end). I formed relationships with my advisor and almost all of my journalism professors. In fact, many of them read this blog. A lot of them knew about my surgery in October. And, I’ve counted on almost all of them for letters of recommendation. So why is it so important to get to know your professors? Easy.They can’t help you if you don’t talk to them. Believe it or not, they are not out to get you. They are people, too, and understand that life is stressful. If you feel you are in danger of failing a class, or not finishing an assignment, trust me when I tell you that your issue will probably be 99.9% resolved if you just talk to your professor.

And there you have it! My last piece of advice? Relax, you’ll be fine!

*I majored in journalism and English, so this post is very reading/writing focused.

Are you in college? What do you think is the hardest part?

If you’re a college graduate, can you offer any other advice to college students?

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12 comments

  1. These are all excellent. I’m currently in college, and it can be so overwhelming. This is the second week of classes, so I haven’t figured out a schedule for getting my work done this semester quite yet, and everything seems much more overwhelming than it will when I figure it out. I’m big on lists, too. I use my iCal & the website Remember The Milk, both of which I can synch to my iPod touch so I always have my to-do list handy. I also make daily schedules in order to fit in all the school work I have and make sure I take some breaks. That’s another really important thing: breaks. I used to just study, study, study all day long and I would get really burnt out, but I would keep going. Now I schedule breaks throughout the day to decompress and it’s much better.

  2. I wish someone would have told me to ‘job shadow’ and to get summer jobs before entering college and during the beginning years of college. This would have allowed me to pin point exactly what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, I didn’t decide what I wanted to do until it was too late (nutrition/culinary arts school) and I had too much invested in my math and computer science major. Oh well, you live and you learn! 😀 But, I sure am happy and proud to have a bachelors degree!

  3. Love it! I’m a college graduate (last May) so my tip for all current students is that while college is an absolute blast but remember you’re in there to prep you for the working world. Get solid internship experiences to stack up that resume! And use every resource your college has. Great post Rebecca!

  4. Start budgeting your expenses! First thing I did when I got to college was switch from my contract phone to a prepaid cell phone. Instead of spending $100+ on my contract phone, I am now spending $45 for unlimited minutes and texts and web. It’s a great deal and definitely something every college student should look into in order to save money.

  5. I think those are all great tips! I definitely need to work on planning my work out better so I’m not completely overwhelmed at certain points during the semester. I’m trying to get better with using my day planner and writing out when I need to have things finished.

  6. What a great post-Becca! I was just sitting at home thinking about all the reading assignments I have and your post was so appropriate for what I’m dealing with right now. It’s great to know I’m not alone in the swamp of homework I’m currently buried neck deep in.

  7. I’m in my first year at uni in the UK, just about to start back after the Christmas break & exam period, and the most stressful thing for me is by far living in halls on campus with people allocated at random. We get on well enough to get by, but at times (drunk times – them) it’s downright intimidating and scary. The workload is stressful too, but at least I know how to manage that.

    My main tip from my experience so far is to tell someone what you’re struggling with. There’s a graduate at my church who has been an incredible support system to me, especially since I haven’t made many close friends yet. Everything is a lot easier to deal with, and a lot less overwhelming, if you have someone to help you through it.

    Thanks for this :)

  8. To this day I still have a reoccurring dream about registering for a class that I NEVER show up for. It’s like I forget about the class or something. I go once and then I never come back. I’m not sure why I forget about it, but I never drop it from my schedule, so at the end of the semester I get an email from the professor asking me where I’ve been. When he insists I come in to take the final exam, I start freaking out.

    “WHAT? I HAD NO IDEA I SIGNED UP FOR HISTORY OF THE VIETNAM WAR. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!”

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