7 Things I Wish I Knew in College

The “real world” is completely different from college. Which is odd considering that college is supposed to be your first taste of independence and the world out there. Here are 7 things I wish I knew when I was in college:

 

1) Your grades don’t matter: This part hit me the most when job-hunting. No one cared that I had great grades or was part of a honour society for students in the top 15% of their field of study. In fact no one seemed to care that I had a degree at all. People just wanted work experience which I didn’t have (and couldn’t get because I had no work experience). Which brings me to my next point:

2) The importance of work experience: No one wants to employ someone with no work experience. Which is ironic because how do you get work experience if no one wants to give you work without prior working experience. It baffles me that this has been going on for a while now and no one has done anything about it.

3) How to work in a team: It’s not that I don’t know how to work in a team. It’s just that I don’t want to. Group projects in college were a total nightmare and we basically divided the entire project into individual parts and then got together to present the entire project. While I may love the team that I work up, it took the introvert in me five months to finally feel comfortable around them. I definitely wish someone had taught me the importance of working in a team.

4) It’s who you know not what you know: Like number 1 on this list, this also hit me hard. Finding a job seems to be more about who you know than what you know. So network network network. You never know who could lead you to your next job. My cousin found her current job because someone saw her searching career websites on her phone and they knew someone who was hiring.

5) You can’t stay at home from work just because you want to: There are many reasons to miss class in college. It’s too cold, too hot, it’s a Friday, you’re hungover, etc. Unfortunately you can’t do this in the real world. Come rain or shine, you have a job to do. While slacking off in college was okay, that kind of behavior could get you fired.

6) Treasure your free time: My holidays and weekends in college were spent complaining about how bored I was. My holidays and weekends as an employed adult are spent running errands or completing chores that I couldn’t do during the week. Free time is no longer a thing.

7) It’s all going to be okay: I was a neurotic wreck in college. I always fretted over the smallest of things (I once printed out an assignment three times because the ridiculous tutor kept changing her mind about the format of the assignment). I would love to tell my past self to relax and breathe, everything will be fine. Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we want it to and that’s okay.

What do you wish you knew when you were in college?

Can We Please Stop Judging People’s Decisions?

It seems like everyone and their mother has an opinion on what I should do once I graduate. So far, none of those opinions have included or required any of my input. And all this unsolicited advice seems to go along the same route- basically everyone wants me to go do postgraduate studies.

Which would be great if a) it was something I wanted to do or even  if b) People would suggest postgraduate studies instead of simply telling me “you should go do Honours”.

I’ve always known that I wanted to be a journalist which is why I chose to major in Journalism. People just seem to ignore that and it is seriously pissing me off. Which brings me to my next issue with postgraduate studies. If I was to study further, I would prefer to do my Honours in English Studies. I would also prefer to study all the way until PhD so that I can lecture in a university-level English classroom. However that is more of a back-up plan than a goal. Like I’ve said so many times since I was twelve, journalism is the career I want. And like people have done so many times since I was twelve, my decision is being ignored.

My question is this, when did society decide what we can and cannot do? I am sick and tired of being considered odd simply because I don’t follow the stereotypes of what society expects us to do. I’ve seen friends complain about how people expect them to marry and have kids. Like postgraduate studies, starting a family is a great idea if it’s what you want. I remember being totally shocked when an old friend got married at the age of twenty. However my shock quickly melted away when I remembered that she always had been the mother of our friend group. Marriage would certainly suit her. However when other people found out (okay I couldn’t resist bragging that I had grown up with someone who was now getting married), I remember someone asking me if she was pregnant.

Last I checked, everyone had a life of their own. Why don’t we all focus on living our own lives instead of dictating how people live theirs? Some people want to get married, some people want to study, some people want to go start their own business. Unless their plans somehow seriously harm you, I really don’t see what the big deal is.

If we all followed the same life path, we would essentially be copies of each other and what would be the fun in that? People need to step back and allow others to do what makes them happy instead of what they think society would have wanted them to do.

Life as a Second-Semester Senior 

There’s always been much for me to worry about as a second-semester senior even without actually being a second-semester senior.

I’m supposed to update my resume, start the job search, make a final decision on whether or not I’m pursuing postgraduate studies (and if so, in which of my two majors would I continue studying?). However the day before my 21st birthday, the driver of my liftclub altered my second-semester to-do list. He announced to us that he would be getting a new job and we needed to find new transport. 

Most liftclubs take new members at the beginning of the year so I knew that finding a new liftclub would be difficult. Another thing that worried me was that in my first liftclub, the people delighted in making me miserable. I would even go as far as to say that they were bullies. The end result of their horrid ways was that I left the liftclub as well as my “friends” from high school (Life Lesson: It’s important to know the difference between “friends” and Friends. Sometimes it may take an unpleasant experience to learn the difference but you’ll be better off in the end).

After much searching I did find a liftclub. And boy was it majorly different from both my first liftclub and the second. The people were so friendly I couldn’t help but be suspicious. (So much so that I eventually broke down one day in tears because I had no idea how to respond to them and worried that they would think I was being rude). This liftclub was also huge- with about thirty people. I also no longer needed to wake up at 5AM and was home immediately after my class.

However everything has a downside and for my liftclub the downside is the van. On the first day of campus I opened the van door, only for it to close on me.

On day two, there was a different van with a faulty door that didn’t open unless you put in alot of strength.
I don’t have alot of strength. 

As far as downsides go, these aren’t so bad. It sucks that I’m still so terrified of the people in my new liftclub turning out to be as horrible as the ones in my old liftclub. Especially since these people have been nothing but pleasant to me. However try as I might, I really can’t let go of the past.

How to Avoid Burnout in College

The stress of college can all too easily lead to burnout. Here are a few tips to help you make it to the end of the semester with your sanity and energy levels intact.

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1) Plan Yourself Well- Failing to plan is planning to fail. Those words were drilled into my high school senior year Accounting class. Those words can also be my life motto. It’s difficult but always ensure that you have enough time to get an assignment done (possibly even extra time in case of any unexpected circumstances).

2) Have fun- I’ve been known to literally just sit around and read for hours or have a TV show marathon when I should be studying. Downtime is very very important to ensure you don’t overstress yourself. Take breaks and take them often.

3) Work smart not hard- Okay so this is going to make me sound so bad but I always work harder for the first assignment of each module. The reasoning behind this is that if I get a good enough mark for the first assignment, I don’t need to worry as much for the second one. If you kick ass at both assignments then you’re pretty much guaranteed a pass for the semester (depending on how your final mark is compiled).

4) Don’t compromise on your sleep- Sleep has health benefits and blah blah blah. Don’t give up on your sleep even if it’s for an all-nighter. Your body needs rest to recover from the day and prepare for the next one.

How do you avoid burnout in college?

10 Signs You’re Meant to Be an English Major

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1) You enjoy reading
2) You enjoy writing
3) You’re good at both reading and writing
4) Your literary collection consists of more than just the latest bestsellers. You have the classics too.
5) You can write an essay in your sleep

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6)  You’ve written something that wasn’t for school (poems, short stories, fanfiction)
7) The idea of having to read and be rewarded for writing about what you read, excites you. Hello easy A
8) You’ve read a classic novel without it being compulsory for class.
9) You don’t mind putting in work for a module that most believe will only lead to you working at McDonalds or Starbucks.
10) Well you’re reading this so you obviously believe you’re meant to be an English major.

Tips on Preparing for Finals

It’s that time of the year again. Finals are upon us even though it feels like we JUST finished writing our last paper. Here are my tips to help you prepare for finals:

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1) Tailor your studying for the type of exam- I used to study for all my papers in the same way. Read the notes, read the textbook and hope for the best for exams. Don’t do that. It’s far more effective if you study depending on what the exam question is. Draft out essays or outlines of essays for an essay question. Test yourself for multiple-choice questions and practice answering “long questions” to the best of your ability.

2) Use Past Papers- Speak to your lecturer or tutor about papers that have been used previously. I overheard a conversation about our university papers being in the library- something I hadn’t known before.

3) Keep Calm- okay I’m not the best student out there but I’m pretty proud of my marks. I’m also pretty proud that I never crack under pressure. No matter how stressful exams are, be certain to always remain calm. Freaking out will only stress you out and cause you to forget what you’ve learnt.

4) Use more than one medium of learning- Learning the same thing over and over again is boring. Switch it up by changing the way you study. I usually write notes down but when I get bored I move on to typing them in my own words on my phone. I’ve also been known to sing but only when numbers are involved.

5) Ask for help when you need it- Whether you need extra revision with a tutor or you need to step away from some of your responsibilities, ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

What are your tips for finals?

How to Write an Essay

As an English major and a blogger, you’d assume that writing essays would come naturally to me. It doesn’t. There’s nothing I hate more than having to write an essay. Three years of college have made me create a strict no-fail routine when it comes to writing an essay. Here are my tips for writing an essay:

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1) Rewrite the essay question in your own words- Sometimes essay questions are worded in the most difficult way possible. Rewriting them helps you to understand precisely what it is that the question is asking. It also helps in writing your introduction.

2) Decide on your main points- I do this so that I know precisely what I’m going to include in my essay.

3) Write out your essay- the first two steps above should help you in writing your introduction. Your introduction should introduce the topic and discuss how you’re going to approach it.
Your body should consist of the main statements (and supporting statements) that prove the view you’re taking on the topic. Your conclusion should sum up everything you’ve said in the essay. The easiest way to remember this is: “Say what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it (The introduction), say what you want to say (The body) and then say what you’ve said (The conclusion).

4) Edit- Be sure to edit your essay before you hand it in. I usually do a edit on my own before getting a member of the university to check my essay for me. Editing helps you to polish up your essay so you can get the best possible grade.

What’s your writing process when it comes to essays?

How to Take Notes From a Textbook

Taking notes from a textbook is difficult. They’re bulky and usually worded in the most difficult way possible. Here are my tried and tested tips for taking notes from a textbook:

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1) Read the summary first- Most textbook have a summary of each chapter. Read this before you begin reading the chapter. This will give you an overview of what it is that you’re studying.

2) Skim through the chapter- reading is for novels. Skimming is for college. If you read your textbook word for word, you would be wasting time. Skimming allows you to get the most important information instantly.

3) Highlight the important points- Highlight or underline the most important concepts in your textbook. Can’t write in your book? Copy the concepts down instead. Do something to make them stand out to you.

4) Read and reread- Revise the summary and the relevant concepts whenever necessary. Personally I like to copy them down all on a page so I have my own study guide.

How do you take notes from a textbook?

How to Adjust to Being Back at Campus

Sacrificing late nights out for study sessions sucks. It sucks even more if you’re returning to campus after a break. Here are my tips on how I adjust to returning to campus.

How to Adjust to Being Back at Campus

 

1) Get Enough Sleep- it’s very important that you get enough sleep. Try using a sleep calculator and follow it a few days before you go back to campus to allow your body to get used to the new sleeping time. This prevents any issues when it comes to waking up when it’s time to attend classes.

2) Stick to a Routine- For the first few days at campus, create a routine and follow it. This a) allows you to be more organised about your time and b) you’ll adjust easier when you know you have a routine you’re supposed to be following.

3) Give Yourself Time to Adjust- Rome was not built in a day and it’s unlikely that you’re going to return to campus and already be ready to be your best. It’s going to take time for your body to realise you’re giving up TV for tests and sleep for studying. I like to have atleast a week in which I let myself be lazy and not officially on “work” mode.

4) Get Working- At some time you’re going to get off your butt and say bye to your lazy days. This may happen when all your projects are due at once or it could happen days before your exam. It’s important that you start working as soon as you can to (for me I insist on doing some sort of work as soon as my lazy week is over) avoid stressing yourself out when the bulk of your work is due.

How do you adjust to being back at campus?