It’s that time of year again. The duffle bags are stuffed to over-capacity, the family van is filled to the point of invisibility, and shopping carts are filled with hundreds of dollars of school supplies. The lines at Wal-Mart and Bed Bath & Beyond stretch into the parking lot, the guest bedroom is cluttered with very important miscellaneous accessories (i.e. Tupperware, sparkly-neon undergarments, white-wired fairy/holiday lights), and every phone, computer, and iPad has been fixed, updated, and is officially glitch-free. The days leading up to another first day of school are expensive and exhausting; college students hoping the investment of their summer money into cute themed graphic T-shirts will be worth it, and anxious parents hoping their investment in their child’s education will be well used. So what then, as college students, can we do to best utilize these four years? From conversations with college students, my own experiences, and various Facebook statuses, I have compiled the following list of fourteen tips to best utilize our time in (the isolated bubble that is) college.
1. End every semester healthily exhausted. Never finish a semester wishing you had done more. (However, that leads me to my next tip).
2. Sleep. Your level of cool in college is not dictated by how many all-nighters your pull. Is it 2am? Go to bed. Develop regular sleep habits.
3. Go to class. Yes, you will miss important information. Yes, the professor will notice. If you need more convincing to attend class as opposed to sleeping in, calculate the price each class costs.
4. Don’t be the kid who brings a TV for their dorm room. Trust me.
5. Leave your door open. Don’t dismiss this advice-it’s profound.
6. Get off campus. Whatever the size of your school (2,700, 5,000, or 20,000), it will feel small by your senior year. Go to local dive bars, meet the ‘townies’, befriend students at the surrounding schools, get a job in town.
7. Join clubs: it will help you grow roots, create a micro-community, and enforce the importance of time-management
8. Keep a planner/calendar.
9. Start your resume early; keep a document on your computer desktop called Resume. It will be hard to mentally keep track of all the accomplishments, awards, and activities you are/were involved in during college. It is easier to add your accomplishments one by one, than it is to remember them when you need them.
10. Healthy body= Healthy mind. Get involved in some physical activity: join a club- sport, find a friend to take an early morning bike-ride/swim/run/walk with, check your schools open-swim hours, bring a Frisbee, take a yoga/dance/Pilates class, hit the gym. Physical exertion relieves stress and increases your ability to work productively. (The freshman fifteen is not a myth).
11. Actively monitor your stress level. Most colleges provide free counseling services, if your college provides this service, utilize it. Recognize your own signs of over-exertion and stress, and then do what you need to remain mentally healthy.
12. Safe sex: have it.
13. Small acts of health: wash your hands, drink lot’s of water, take advantage of free vaccinations, wear flip-flops in the shower, put a plastic bag in your trashcan (makes cleaning vomit, chewed gum, and half-eaten containers of Ramen mess-free).
14. College is not your prime. College may or may not be the best four years of your life. If you think your days of day-drinking, exam-cramming, and quad-streaking will be the most rewarding of your life, consider re-evaluating your priorities. If college isn’t the dream-world you had anticipated, don’t worry, your time will come.
I summarize the proceeding tips by emphasizing the rule of two’s: get eight hours of sleep at least two days a week, never drink more than two times in a week, be an active member in at least two clubs, workout/physically exert yourself at least two times a week, make two off campus friends, and do two self-love acts a day.