Surviving the Academic Part of College

My freshman year, I never went to bed before 4 am, I waited until the absolute last second to do work, forgot about assignments, never studied until cramming the night before a final – you get the point. 

I’m now ending my senior year with a 3.7 gpa, and I plan to take an internship, while still graduating a semester early. Funny how things change, I guess. But I promise you, it wasn’t by luck.  

So what made the difference? 

I started by making friends. If making friends has been easy for you in college, congrats. It was hard for me in the beginning, I felt like nobody wanted to be there, so nobody wanted to talk. But I started to pick one person in each class. I’d sit with them everyday, get their number, study with them, etc. This helps because you can ask a friend a question when you’re too embarrassed to ask the teacher, you can collab on homework, be instant partners for group projects, etc. 

… I actually study. In the past, when a teacher would assign readings for homework, I’d laugh. I’d never do it, and then when it came to exam time, I was never the one laughing. I crammed months worth of readings into a night or two.. and nobody retains information like that. I eventually just realized that I am truly here for academics, I’m not paying for school to forget everything. 

I figured out how to separate work and play. Like I said, I don’t pay to frick around. I don’t skip an assignment to go out, I don’t watch TV while doing homework, and I don’t study in large groups because I know that I’ll just talk. I’ve made the separation between these things because when I fully concentrate, I retain information better and get done faster. 

I keep other aspects of my life in check. I try to sleep around 8 hours a night. I wake up every morning at 7 to do some type of exercise. I used to believe that waking up earlier would just make me more tired, but the exercise actually gives me more energy and focus for the day. I keep my room clean to give my mind clarity, I make sure I do things that make me happy, etc. When you don’t have your mental/physical health in check, it makes school 10 times harder.. I promise. 

The most important factor: I learned to plan and organize. 

Weekly: I write down all of the due dates to my assignments, then I write down the days that I would *ideally* complete them by. Daily: I write down all of the tasks I have to complete. Even the obvious ones, like go to the gym or take a shower, just to keep myself in a routine. 

I’ve started to complete my assignments 2 days before they’re actually due. I started doing this because sometimes.. life happens. If an event comes up, I’m sick or having a bad day, whatever it may be – I’ll have a grace period to get myself back on track. 

I go to class. Funny how it has to be said. Most of my classes have strict attendance policies, so it’s not an option anyway, but I’ve learned that you can miss out on so much by skipping just one day. You can miss a pop-quiz, your teacher can change the due date on an assignment, you miss out on important information, etc. I know it sucks, but just go. It’s worth it. 

Remember that you pay to go to school for a reason, and that reason isn’t to sleep in, fail a test, or ditch study sessions for frat parties. Go get your degree and make a frick ton of money.. Then you can throw your own parties, take vacations whenever you want, and sleep in however late you want.

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