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?

5 Tips For Writing a Cover Letter

I posted this before but I’m sharing again for anyone who needs cover letter help for the new year.

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1) Personalize your letter for each application- even if you’re applying for the same position at different companies, it is important that your cover letter is tailored for each company. For example, your application for a fashion magazine and a newspaper should each mention what you could bring to the specific company and position.

2) Try to stand out- Standard introductions are boring. Remember that the person reading your letter goes through several other cover letters as well. Try to stand out in your letter to get their attention. For example, instead of starting with “my name is x and I am applying for y”, start with something out of the box like a quote or motto that you believe in.

3) Do not write an essay- a cover letter that is succinct is more successful that a three – page – essay.  Ideally a cover letter should say who you are, what you can bring to the table and briefly list your experience or qualifications for the job.

4) Show what you can bring to the job- I’ve stated this before. This is just to emphasis it. The company has hundreds of applicants. Obviously everyone wants the job. Obviously they have something to offer. But what do you have? Stellar social media skills? Writing experience? Show that you stand out from others with your unique skills.

5) Stick to the format- a cover letter is just that a letter. So stick to the usual format of a letter. Don’t know the format? Google it! And remember to ensure that you have no typos. Nothing spells unprofessional easier than a badly-formatted, typo – riddled cover letter.

How to Find Time for Reading in College

Since this is a college lifestyle and book blog, it just made sense to combine the two in a blog post. Making time to read in college is difficult especially if your classes requires tons of reading for them. However I am stubborn and nothing, not even my education will stand in the way of me and another fictional universe. Here are my tips on making time for reading in college:

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1) Use reading as a reward for your boring work- I hate some of the books we have to do for English so I balance it out with a chapter of a novel that is interesting. I usually read much faster when I know that there’s a book I’ll actually enjoy, waiting for me.

2) Read in between classes- Carry a book with you to read in your free time. I never read in high school because I had no time but carrying a book a day to campus made reading so easy for me.

3) Buy an eReader- Some people have really strong opinions about eBooks but I find them quicker and easier to read than print books. College is also when my ereading began.

4) Read a chapter before bed- When college gets really stressful and I’m unable to read on campus at all, I read for a while before bed. Just make certain that it’s only one chapter and you don’t end up staying awake until just before your 8AM class.

How do you find time for reading in college?

This is Where It Ends

I’m hours (five hours to be exact) away from writing my final paper as a college student. I know I should be focused on the paper but all I can think of is “How did three years pass so soon?”

It seems like only yesterday I was preparing for my matric finals and here I am hours away from my college finals. Time really does fly.

I’m dreading having to see family over the festive season and deal with the “What are your plans for next year?” questions but omg I can’t believe I’m here!

Also, once exams are over I hope to have proper blog posts lined up.

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. 

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?

The Post-Exam TBR List

I love making lists especially when it comes to reading. Who needs a five-year-plan when you’ve got a list of books to buy? (I’m kidding. I love my five-year-plan). This is the list of books I want to read once exams are over. They are actually all books that I need to review but hey, reading is reading!

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1) Demon Road by Derek Landy- I received a free review copy of this book from Readers Warehouse. The synopsis of this book doesn’t give much away which frustrates me. I can never read a book that has a mystery in it or is mysterious in any way.

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2) Serpentine by Peter Parkin and Alison Derby- I want to read this book so bad but the cover terrifies me. It reminds me of Final Destination 3.

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3) The Goodbyes by Leslie Welch- The Goodbyes is a romance novel about a rock star who finds out that the woman he loves is dying. Like Serpentine, I’m scared to read it but for a totally different reason. This looks like a book that will make you cry and I’m not done recovering from the last book that did that.

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What’s on your TBR? Have you read any of these books? Leave me a comment below.

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?