I will never not feel nostalgic on September days when the sun is out and a cool breeze persists, like a gentle reminder that you can begin again. I long for the days when I’m back in school, particularly when I attended college. Maybe I didn’t know it at while it was happening, but these were the best days of my life. In fact, if asked what I would do after winning the lottery, I would say, “go back to school”, cause that’s literally what it will take for me to go back! But seriously, I’d be a student forever if I could. I was lucky enough to experience college as a commuter student as well as a resident. I can’t say that one is better than the other because there were perks for both, but the biggest lesson I learned is to use what you’ve got while you’ve got it. Here are a few tips to follow that can make a positive impact on your overall college experience and make it worth every penny.
Take some time to get to know what’s around you. You’d be surprised to find how many great study spots there are. It helps to know where all the buildings are too, mostly so that you arrive to class on time. You’ll also get to see the pace of your every day environment which could help your day go more smoothly. For example, I came to learn that the campus cafe was generally more crowded at 10 minutes to the hour especially in the morning , so I’d get there a bit earlier, have my coffee while I listened to some music, then set off to class. Whatever your routine is, knowing what’s around you makes things a bit simpler.
I met all the people I’d spend most of my time with just by attending events, clubs, and hanging out in my dorm lounge. It can be really strange at first to introduce yourself to a random stranger, especially if like me, you don’t know a single person around you. What I’ve learned though is that most people (more than you’d probably expect) will reciprocate the gesture and be really gracious about it too. Sometimes we forget that there are people just like us who just want to meet new people and potentially gain a friend. I met one of my best friends at a Christian fellowship. We met again about a week after that when we discovered we lived on the same floor. I also shared a lot of common interests with my neighbor who was a vegan and a long distance runner. He pushed me to run my first half marathon and was just overall a cool person to hang out with. Another MAJOR tip is to check the “student life” calendar for events. I went to a couple of really great events that I probably would’ve paid an arm and a leg for in the city, the coolest being a Seth Meyers comedy show. My friend and I got those tickets for $15 at the door from a girl who was an ANGEL of a friend and decided to leave with her friend who fell ill. I’m pretty sure you can purchase tickets for at least one guest (not attending the college or university). TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE DISCOUNT PEOPLE!!!
My program offered a summer study abroad opportunity in Italy. I mean…for me, it doesn’t get better than that! To begin with, it was a very small group and everyone knew everyone, so I looked at it as an opportunity to travel with friends, and earn some credits while I was there. I didn’t do very much research as far as finding funds to help pay for the trip, but I do remember it being significantly cheaper than going on my own. Typically, you’re chaperoned by your professor(s) who has probably taken the trip once before and knows a thing or two about the area, it’s attractions and food. Luckily, I moved to Europe and eventually was able to visit Italy, but ya can’t always predict those kind of circumstances.
Opportunity Lives on Tear-Off-Tab Flyers
I’d normally walk past a public cork board without thinking twice or even noticing it for that matter, but they are in fact reliable. I earned a pretty sweet and consistent babysitting gig my first year at university. I was paid in cash and the boys were an absolute delight. It was nice to get off of campus as well because day in and day out if you don’t get away, it can seem like that’s all there is.I didn’t have a car but I quickly became a pro at public transportation, believe it or not I never used it on my own until then. Having a job helped me practice time management, whereas if I didn’t have one I’d be more likely to procrastinate.
Checking your school email is crucial and will help you become a good “skimmer”. Countless emails will flow through your inbox, many of them uninteresting, but don’t get in the habit of ignoring them because you can miss out on great work/academic experiences.
Make Every Penny Count
There are many perks to being a college student, the best being that you’re treated like the adult you are, while still getting the sympathy vote, well, because you’re in college. However the best for me was that free gym membership, which isn’t free but feels like it is! I don’t think I ever purchased a membership with full access to ALL classes. Six AM Sun Rise Yoga, what!? If you have a substantial amount of time between classes, it’ll be good to hit the gym, after all you are paying for it. Exercise is not only great for your body but the mind as well. You might come to find that you’re a lot stronger than you think you are. Also, if you’re one of those people who avoids the gym because you’re too embarrassed to workout in front of other people, I can say that the experience is less daunting than say a Retro Fitness gym. Everyone is just trying to be their best self.
In my last year of studies I learned I could donate any leftover money on my account to a good cause. I’m pretty sure the year before I just bought whatever left over snacks I could find in the school convenient store. It’s nice to know that you can use whatever’s leftover for a good cause and no amount is ever too small.
I could go on and on about my experience, but I won’t do it all in this post. Every student will have a different experience, different circumstances, and what works for some may not work for others. If you’re a student reading this, take it from me, still paying off my student loans, it’s all worth it. The key is to make and take the most from it.