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?

Should You Change Your Major?

As I plod through my last semester of college (how’d we get here so soon???), it occurs to me that I’m not studying what I had originally planned on studying. In fact I had already changed my majors thrice by the time I finished my first year in college. This made me wonder how many other people question their choice of major. How do you know if you should change your major or not? Here are my tips on deciding:


DO change your major if:

1) It no longer makes you happy- People change and sometimes your may find that you no longer enjoy your major. I was totally miserable when I majored in Media. Literally every study session and class was accompanied by me crying. Dropping Media was the best thing I ever did.

2) Your major isn’t necessary for the field that you wish to go into- I was originally majoring in Media and English. When it became obvious that Media wasn’t going anywhere (there was a lack of funding that made being a Media student very difficult), I chose to simply to continue with English since usually experience instead of qualifications is required in Media. Or so claimed an article I read online.

3) You want to change your major- Sometimes the reason behind you changing your major is simply that you want to change your major. Do it. It’s your life and you’re the one who’s going to be stressing over the assignments for your major.

DON’T change your major if:

1) You’re having trouble with just one class- if you’re having trouble with a class, speak to your tutor or lecturer before making any final decisions. I went through a really difficult semester in English and considered dropping the class. What I didn’t know was that everyone else was also struggling with the module. Our tutor sat us down and had one-to-one sessions where he helped us through our workload. With his help we passed the module and it’s now just a distant memory.

2) You’re changing for someone else- I’ve had people judge me for majoring in English throughout my entire college career. It pisses me off but at the end of the day my major makes me happy. Don’t change your major if you’re simply trying to impress someone else. Like I mentioned before you’re the one who would have to struggle with the assignments and tests.

3) You don’t know what you want to do- This is just a personal preference for me but I don’t think you should change your major if you’re completely uncertain about your future. You may change majors over and over again and this may come with a fee. However you WILL change as a person and therefore your career choices will change so this is up to you.

Did you change your major or did you always know what you wanted to study? I’d love to know below. 

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.

4 Reasons Why You Should Consider Applying for an Unpaid Internship

When it comes to internships, few people want to apply for a unpaid one. However an unpaid internship gives you the same experience you would gain from a paid internship. Just, you know…without the money. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider an unpaid internship:

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1) For the experience: Personally I feel the experience gained from an internship is priceless. (This is obviously because I’m not paying for gas or any kind of bills but anyway). Internships can teach you so much that you never thought you needed to learn. Whether paid or unpaid, experience learned from an internship is ALWAYS valuable.

2) To gain networking contacts: An internship is a great way to make networking contacts for the future. You never know if a person knows someone who may be able to help you in the future.

3) To expand your knowledge of the field: You can learn alot from an internship. For example, when I interned at a local magazine I learnt how magazines worked as well as websites and social media. There’s no predicting how much you may learn in an internship or when you will use this knowledge.

4) To decide whether or not you want to go into that specific field: Interning allows you to see if a certain industry is a good fit for you or not. Taking an active role in the industry is a great way to find out whether or not you want to be a part of it in the future.

Interning without being paid for it may not be your first choice but it has tons of perks that shouldn’t be ignored.

How to Balance Your Blog with College

College is hard. Being a college student with a blog is infinitely harder. However with some handy tricks you can learn to balance your blog with college.

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1) Schedule everything- You might have noticed by now that I’m a huge fan of planners and to-do lists. Scheduling your commitments ensures you don’t forget them and are aware of them long before they occur. Write down both your college deadlines and important blog post dates. For me every Friday I write a Fiction Friday post so I write this in my diary.

2) Work in advance- Do things before they’re due. Write a few posts before they’re due to be published and queue them up. I usually write an entire week of post on the first day of the month and then work from there.

3) Delegate work- Ask for guest bloggers to post on your blog or ask a friend to help you study when college gets overwhelming.

4) Combine the two- Blog about your college experience. I especially like this option because anyone who is/has been in college can relate to the stress of it.

What are your tips for balancing college and a blog?

10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Have to Attend Class

Sometimes, for whatever reason, we just can’t get to class. I don’t know about you but to me these are all totally valid excuses to not go to class.

15 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Have to Attend Classes

  1. It’s too hot
  2. It’s too cold
  3. You’re falling behind on your shows
  4. The lecturer sucks
  5. The class is too long
  6. The lecturer makes you drag your butt to class only to dismiss you after like two seconds. I did NOT leave my bed for this. Might as well just stay in bed anyway.
  7. You just need some ‘me’ time
  8. Attendance is compulsory
  9. You already did/are going to do the readings
  10. The class is too full
  11. The class is icky (this happens when you’re from South Africa and all of the cleaners go on strike).
  12. There is a strike
  13. There’s a possibility of a strike
  14. You feel like you should strike
  15. You just don’t want to go to class.

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?

10 Ways College is Better Than High School

You wouldn’t know it since it’s a million times more stressful but here are 10 reasons why college is better than high school.

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1) Unlimited WiFi- if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with WiFi. Having access to WiFi on campus makes life so much easier.

2) You Get to See Your Friends More Often- it’s like you guys are living together. And in some cases, you might be. Even as a commuter, the long hours mean you’re going to be spending the entire day with your friends (so making friends who keep the same hours as you is a major advantage).

3) Food- in high school, the only food items we could buy was junk food and pie. In college there’s no end to the variety of food available. There’s vegetarian options, pizzas, pastas, etc. Don’t even get me started on the beverages. *drools*

4) You Have Interesting Subjects- my first semester at college consisted of Criminology, English, Zulu and Academic Writing. Okay Zulu was something offered in high school but I was fascinated by Criminology and Academic Writing. High school didn’t have subjects like that. Which brings me to…

5) You Choose Your Subjects- You have greater freedom choosing subjects in college than in high school. Bye bye Maths you colossal-waste-of-time.

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6) The Subjects Are All Very Different From High School- instead of basic comprehension and editing, English forced us to read and analyse text. We had discussions on Freud, Foucault and a local author who went insane while writing his last book (which made the ending of the book senseless but oddly intriguing).

7) The Dependence on Technology- remember when we weren’t allowed cellphones in classes? College doesn’t have that rule. You might even need your cellphone to take notes (or in some cases, take out photos of notes). You may also require a laptop or tablet. That combined with the WiFi makes for a dangerous combination.

8) The Strange Hours- you may start at ten. You may finish at twelve. Hell you may even start your weekend on a Wednesday. Okay that only happened to me once but it was AMAZING. College has more flexible hours which can be a blessing or a curse.

9) Attendance is not mandatory- if you skipped a day of class in high school, you were required to bring a note. No such rule exists in college. Of course there are a few classes that have registers but that’s because they’re evil. Stats, I command thee to leave my college syllabus.

10) It’s Not High School- College does not have the same drama as high school. Yes there might be experiences where you feel like you never left high school (we’ll get into the horror of my Freshman year some other time) but here’s the great part- you can leave. College has thousands of people so if you’re having issues with someone, simply remove them from your life and keeping moving forward.

What’s your favourite part of college?

College Tips for English Majors

Ah, English. We speak it everyday and chances are you’re passionate about it if you’ve decided to major in it. Or in some cases you had nothing else to choose (that’s hurtful but hey it’s true).
For me I chose English because I loved it in school and thought it would be a breeze. It’s not. It’s actually pretty difficult. Here’s a few tips for coping as an English major.

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1) Get Your Reading List Early- I’ve heard other English majors tell me how they love reading but personally I’ve always struggled through my assigned readings. It’s a good idea to get the list of readings early so you know what to expect when it comes to your workload. Email your lecture or the administration to ask for a list. Worse case scenario you get a refusal. Best case scenario you know the books you’re expected to read and can start looking for them early.

2) Compare Book Prices- My campus bookstore is always ridiculously expensive. It works out easier to either buy the books secondhand, online (Takealot and Readers Warehouse usually have reasonable prices for their college books) or even to borrow a copy from your campus library.

3) Read the Book- I’ve seen so many people simply ignore the book they’re studying and it just irritates me. Those people chose English as an elective but their lack of interest was disappointing. How do you expect to write a test or exam when you know nothing about the material being tested? No matter how boring the book is, reading it on your own allows you to form your own opinions that you can include and support in your assignments.

4) Practice Your Writing- Start a blog, keep a diary, write extensive notes. Do something to help improve your writing. Practicing your writing in even a small way allows you to express yourself better and makes for better essays.

5) Proofread Essays- Always check your work before you hand them in. If there’s an option for a lecturer or tutor to read over your work, take it! They’ve been around longer than you have and who knows what is expected of you better than someone in the department?

6) Use Sparknotes- Most of my lecturers take their slides and notes from Sparknotes. I don’t know if they’re taking it directly from the site or if the site simply has the same work but reading Sparknotes makes understanding work so much easier.

7) Take Advantage of Office Hours- If there’s anything you don’t understand, make an appointment to visit your lecturer or tutor privately. I’ve seen students make silly errors simply because of a misunderstanding of the text that could have been cleared.

Are you an English major? What are your tips for a successful semester?