There are a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes about what it means to have a “normal” college experience. Think about it: as a student, how many times have you heard from alumni, parents, or friends “man, college was the best time of my life. I wish that I could go back.” Now I’m sorry, but to me that is completely horrifying. I hope that in 10 years, my biggest wish isn’t wanting to go back to college. Missing old friends and fun times is one thing, but wanting to give up your current life to go back to a stressful, crazy time doesn’t seem fun. The college years have been great years for me, but I sure hope that there are better things waiting for me than this.
Without further ado, here is a list of four things that I have learned in my years at college that have absolutely nothing to do with academia.
1. Sleep is not overrated.
My freshman year, I slept very little and drank a LOT of caffeine. Feeling groggy and tired most days and staying up late talking with friends or doing homework late, only to sleep in on the weekends was the norm. Two and half years later, I’ve learned what really works for me. If I get to go to sleep by 10:30 p.m. during the week that is a successful and glorious day. Sleep is NOT overrated and you will truly feel so much better once you are in a routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can do wonders for your body and your mind. It has increased my productivity, done wonders for my mental and emotional health, and helped me to really feel rested and ready to tackle the day.
2. Neither is working out.
In high school, many of us played sports or were in Physical Education classes. Now that a push from coach to go practice is not present, that push can only come from yourself. That is an extremely difficult thing to push yourself to do. Setting an alarm for 7:00 a.m. to go to the gym is not easy. Having people to keep me accountable has been a huge factor for me to stay motivated to workout. I always thank myself later that day for that push in the morning, and I have a feeling you will too. Find a time that works for you and stick to it. Write it in your schedule, have a gym-buddy. Whatever it takes, it is worth your time.
3. Bills are a very real thing. And you will feel poor. But it’s OK.
Moving off-campus and out of the dorms was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. However, paying for your own bills can be very scary. Seeing my own hard-earned money deplete after paying bills is both disappointing and extremely rewarding. For me, creating a budget was absolutely necessary and I highly suggest it for everyone. Knowing you can take care of yourself and get things done is such an amazing feeling and it is well worth the depletion of money.
4. Bad roommate situations don’t go away just because you no longer live in a dorm.
Bad roommates will exist forever. Sometimes you may get stuck with a particularly horrible one. I firmly believe that everyone should have the experience of living with someone they don’t like at least once. It is an incredible learning experience. Once you aren’t in a dorm, you can’t just call a Resident Assistant to come mediate. It is all up to you and the roommate. You learn how to handle situations and how not to, and sometimes it takes trial and error. That’s OK because that is how life works. There will always be people that you don’t like and that don’t like you. Accepting that, knowing how to deal with it when it happens, and not letting the situation get in the way of your happiness is one of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned.