Hello again, Bengals! I am excited to be writing to you all once again, especially because this time around, I am going to be giving you some advice on how to survive college.
You can Google “College To-Do Lists,” and “How to Prepare for College,” all day, and I know that many of you are. That is exactly what I did the summer before I came to ISU. But in the end, I found that no amount of research could have prepared me for college as well as college itself. I guess that sounds pretty obvious, though, huh? Of course I say that nothing can prepare you, but what am I about to do? Give you a little “How to Survive College” action. My advice is much better, though, because you didn’t have to Google it… and it’s mine. 😉
I won’t lie to you, college is hard. It really is. Being away from your family, missing your high school friends, trying to budget the $15.32 left in your bank account… these feelings are all but too familiar to me. But like anything else in this world, you get out what you put in. With that in mind, college can be the best time of your life. The most important thing to remember is that EVERYONE else on this campus has similar feelings and struggles. They might be homesick, hungry or broke. You are never alone.
That being said, my first piece of advice is to make friends with these new people that are all around you. For my first semester at ISU, I didn’t know many people on
campus, so I called my brother and dad every day, and I skyped my high school friends as often as possible. This was really the only human interaction I ever had. I thought that calling would make my homesickness go away, because if I was in constant contact, I couldn’t miss them, right? False. I had to practice moderation, and I had to learn how to stay in contact with my family and friends from home, while still going out and making new friends.
It is very important that you call your parents, though, because while you are going to school, you aren’t the only one who is going through a tough transition. They might be struggling, too. But like I said, moderation is key. You don’t want to be a nuisance. A weekly, or even twice weekly, check in when you can talk about the past few days would be a nice tradition to keep up. It will make their day to hear from you, and it’s always nice for you to hear some familiar voices!
On a similar note, my biggest stressor of coming to college was making new friends. If you are worried about not being able to meet new people, there is one thing that I will absolutely swear by when it comes to meeting friends, and that is to be involved. Whether it is by joining a club, going to campus events, or just moving your Netflix binging session into the Student Union, getting involved is the easiest way to make friends. I met a lot of people by going to sorority recruitment, going to big events on campus, and eating lunch in the Turner dining room. So be on the lookout for fun things to do around campus, because a) there is usually FREE FOOD, and b) that’s where you are going to meet your new friends!
Next, I want to talk to you about goals. A great book that I highly recommend to everyone is Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. This book is very relevant to the life of an incoming college student, especially the chapter titled “Begin with the end in mind.” This means that in order to be “effective” you should define your personal mission and goals. Visualize where you want a project, a day, and your life to be in a set period of time, and work toward that goal. It is helpful to sit down periodically and check your progress in order to stay on track with your goals, and it’s also wise to share these goals with your family and new friends so they can help you reach them.
Along the lines of goal setting, a word to the wise is that it is okay to be selfish, as long as you are just selfish. Selfishness is a tool for you to use, but it needs to be used sparingly as it is not an attractive quality to only display. Like, you don’t have be mean to people, but since you are starting a new chapter in your life, you don’t want anything toxic around you. If there is something or someone that isn’t helping you reach your goals, then move on to things that build you up and make you a better you, all while being a sweet, polite individual!
Next, one of the things that I learned in college, is that it is so much easier to skip class here than it was in high school. No one is forcing you to go, and many of the professors don’t usually take roll. Those two things alone make is so easy and tempting to skip (especially an 8 a.m. math class.) But I cannot stress enough something that I am sure all of your parents have told you countless times… don’t skip just because you can. For a lot of people, myself included, self-motivation isn’t a thing. Well, you need to find something to motivate you. To keep me motivated, I remember this Mark Cuban quote that one of my best friends shared with me: “Work like there is someone working to take it away from you.” Everyone is motivated by different things, you just have to find what works for you so you can be successful. Even if the only thing that works is scaring yourself, like me!
Well, now that I have thoroughly talked your ears off, I have one more piece of advice. Have fun. You are in this new place that is full of stresses that you may not have ever experienced before, like not having enough quarters to do your laundry, or missing Turner Dining Hall’s breakfast hours. But coming from someone who has been through it and survived… you will, too. And not only is college a place of new stresses, it is a place of new independence, new culture, new love… new LIFE! Knowing that, try something new, meet some new people, and I mean, be safe, but have a good time while you’re here. It’s not hard to do, ISU is a great place to be for outdoor activities, great campus events, and meeting friendly people. I am really excited for you all to join us here in the fall, you have definitely chosen an awesome place! Welcome home!
Kourtney “K-Dawg” McConnell