5 Tips For Your Return To College
It’s just around the corner! Mini fridge lifting, box fans buzzing, subpar cafeteria food, and getting heartfelt hugs from people who were complete strangers not long ago. It’s a time of joyous reunion and anticipation towards another year of Netflix marathons, stacks of pizza boxes, and endless laughter. However, you know better than anybody that college is also stressful and plays both a physical and emotional toll on your well-being because, let’s face it, nobody understands, right?
The good news is that there is still time to drop out of college and bypass all of that stress! There is also the option to endure the stress and be reminded that every second of that stress is making you stronger and more prepared for what is to come after college.
There are a plethora of reasons why returning to college should be exciting, but here are 5 tips that will motivate you and get you prepared for the big move back to college life.
You Know How Professors Work
Previously, you might not have known your professors very well or at all. Now you have a good grasp on how they operate and how much of your life is going to be influenced by their (for lack of a better term) “unique” syllabus. Your brain has been trained to write their style, not answer their rhetorical questions, and be able to comfortably stop by their office and talk about everything except what you are currently discussing in class. Instead of placing all of your focus on whether or not you wrote down the notes correctly or made sure your paper margins are correct, you can now focus on the content and spark discussions that will pick your professors brain, showing them you have an interest in something they are passionate about. After you have shown that interest, they will appreciate you and your efforts which will ultimately come back and prove to be valuable when you need professional letters of recommendation when applying for jobs or graduate school after graduation.
Your parents expect intense studying and in bed at 9, your grandma expects you to wear that knitted hat she made you for Christmas, and incoming freshmen are expecting to sleep till 12 every day and get emails saying classes are cancelled when there’s fog! My tip to you – raise your returning expectations higher but only to a level of achievable success. Push yourself to be great but don’t grade yourself on anybody else’s scale and set short term goals that you can reach within a semester. Getting that perfect GPA is a good goal, but it also a goal that several other thousands of students have and it means two things: 1.) memorizing & regurgitating class content 2.) writing good papers. By no means am I saying forget GPA, but make your goals things that are important to you and will also give you a competitive edge when searching for a job. Set a goal to read so many books per semester. Dig into topics that peak your interest and learn as much as you can about them. Meet 5 new people per week and learn their accomplishments and struggles. Regardless of what is expected by others, writing your own goals at the beginning of the semester and achieving them will give you a sense of lasting accomplishment.
Sophomore Slump? Junioritis? Senioritis? No way.
Let’s face it, who hasn’t heard of these terms in moments where things just don’t seem to be clicking? Instead of blaming these poor titles, why not just diagnose the issue with EXCUSEITIS? Freshman can easily blame obstacles on outside forces because they are still learning time management, how to handle stress that others refer to as sleep, and when they can get home to see their high school friends. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors, you can become overwhelmed at times, but you have the experience to effectively handle these situations where there has to be a blame. It’s on you. Excuseitis kicks in when you have lost your vision and your reason for being in college. When you get to this point 1.) take a breather 2.) reflect upon all of the great things currently going on 3.) envision the amazing benefits yet to come into your life because of your experiences in college.
Newer, New Friends
Freshman year is a whirlwind of a lot of things, but one thing is for sure, the saying “you win some, you lose some”, is applicable when discussing the friends you will make and the friends you will never talk to again. This is perfectly normal and sometimes a great relief. Returners, listen up here. You will lose friends to different interests, drop outs, transfers, or simply just because you/they moved off campus. There are going to be new people coming in from all different directions when you return to campus this semester. New classes, clubs, organizations, cafeteria schedules, roommates, sports, library spots, group projects, and countless other random opportunities might be the cause of you meeting your new bestie. Who knows, your new friends might become connections to career opportunities. Jobs are all about what AND who you know! Also, friends in college are from all over the world. Take this opportunity to meet people who are from different places that might offer for you to come visit for the holidays or check out the best attractions in their hometown. Regardless of the reasons or situations that lead you to meet new friends, embrace them as chances to grow into a better you.
College, let alone life, is about making decisions. American, pepper jack, or provolone? Samsung or Apple? Private or public? We are faced with decisions that change the course of our lives. Probably not dealing with cheese selection, but definitely what we decide to do with our time when we get to college and get to make by ourselves that aren’t influenced by our parents. As a returning college pro, you know how painful bad mistakes freshman year are and how the urge to get it out of your system takes over (insert unique example here of your crazy-creative freshman year). Please, take this one to heart and understand that it is up to you to make decisions that are going to benefit you and help you with the journey to find the intersection between a career that you are passionate about and serving others. Returning to college is another opportunity that you should be so ecstatic about because you can try again. You can aim to focus elsewhere. You can join teams and clubs. You can spend a Saturday night building a science project out of materials you found in a dumpster, if you want. Assess your previous decision making performance by writing down what you accomplished versus what you might have, , not done so well. Time management, stress management, decision making, and overall balance are the keys, now you have to decide which doors to open with them. My returning revelation was buried underneath a freshman year of imbalance. A dreadful year that was filled with irritating stresses and confusion that almost pushed me to transfer. I reassessed what I really wanted, talked with those who have experienced similar situations, and found the perfect balance between academia, fun, and athletics (the tripod of excellence). My highest recommendation would be to surround yourself with others who push themselves to be great by making great decisions and want to be successful by achieving their goals.
If it were easy, everybody would do it. If it were cheap, everybody would buy it. If it were useless, nobody would use it. It is going to be a tough, expensive, useful year for you and you are now prepared to make the most of it – right after you stuff your car. Ladies and gentlemen, start your coffee pots.
Share with colleagues, family, and friends to motivate them during their return to college this year!