Hey, Internet. This understandably should have come at the beginning of the school year so last month; but as I had mentioned in my Snapshot of September I have had quite a time to come to terms with the fact that I am no longer in college. But that’s besides the point here. Here are 6 things that I wish I knew from my first year in college. There may be some that you may feel like they do not concern you since you have a different major, but trust me anyone can use these pointers.
I can not stress enough about planners and bullet journals. You should use one that you feel the most comfortable with. I personally put appointments and classes into a digital calendar so that I did not have to take out my planner at every minute, but I also maintained a physical planner where I wrote down everything. And I mean everything. Not only did I enter my classes, I had all my assignments, test scores and spending details in my planner. I used to carry a MUJI A4 size weekly planner whilst I was in school since the layout was weekly with a grid layout page by its side. there I could write down short essay layouts and assignment details so I had everything in one place. It was also perfect for meetings for extra curricular activities such as TEDx meetings.
Now I have moved on to a bullet journal system since my months are less structured. I have more meetings and less of a to do task list. Simultaneously, it has become more and more important for me to keep track of my mood and my sleeping habits. (#sleepdeprivation) Currently I use the Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal.
Also, if you have never been a physical planner person, I suggest you not to go the color coded route just yet, because that can be overwhelming so stick to two colors, black for everything and red for important due dates, meetings and other things. I personally have come down to a system that my monthly calendars are color coded intensively but the rest of my bullet journal is in a black Staedtler fineliner.
Business Cards and Network, Network, Network
I have rarely seen students carry their own business cards, but trust me it is a good move. Especially when you network. College is all about networking, networking, and more networking. My network has been more useful than my degree itself which is weird because of how expensive college is. But yes, I probably would not have my network without the college degree; so it really depends on perspective. Going back to business cards, pulling out your business card at a networking event as a student makes you look seriously. It makes the person you’re talking to think that you have got your act together and know you are genuinely interested in interning or working together. They don’t have to be fancy, just have your name and your contact details. If you feel like it, you can add your university and major. My first business cards were a light pink color, almost like a cream-ish pastel pink; so that they stood out. And my current ones are black with dull gold writing and have a quote on the back. I personally use Vistaprint because I really like their templates. You can find both fun ones, professional ones and something in the middle of the spectrum.
Be on the Social Media Map
I wish I had done this sooner. In the way the world is changing, it is important to have something of a digital profile of anything that you love beyond what you’re studying at college. For example, for me it is this blog and my Instagram profile. These two platforms show companies I am now applying to how I use what I have study in Marketing and Journalism in the context of something I love. You don’t have to devote all your time to building your social media profile but do something beyond studying to show that you have varied interests. If you’re passionate about video games, then start a YouTube channel, or if you love photography create a public Instagram account to showcase your work. In the case of photography you can even make extra cash by becoming a weekend freelance photographer. Doing something like this is always a great conversation starter and always helps discover new things about yourself. I understand that things like this take a lot of time and a push is needed but in the long run, things like this will push you over the edge when you are looking for a job.
Exam or Test Day Attire
One thing I put into action from my first semester, was that I made a serious effort in how I dressed for college. Yes, there were days when I was in sweatshirts and sweatpants but that was only when it was really really cold. I always tried to look presentable be it in casual attire or business casual attire; because you never know who you might meet. Especially on exam days, I was dressed in something professional, because that helped me bring my A-game to the table. Your outfit can really make your attitude towards the day. Sure, sweatpants are comfortable but they can also make you too comfortable and make it difficult to concentrate on the exam/test. If you aren’t used to business or business casual yet, college can be a good setting to get used to them, since once you start working full time many of us all are going to be in them on a more full time basis.
Reach out to Professors
Professors always appreciate students who make the effort to ask questions and be a part of discussions. It helps them know that whatever they are teaching is going through to you. Take advantage of office hours. I used to meet professors during their office hours and that’s when I realized I should pursue something more in the communications realm rather than law school. Professors tend to give a lot of career and long term advice during office hours because it is more of a dialogue between you and the professor. Simultaneously, if your professors know you well, you will get better recommendation letters for Graduate school, if you are planning to go.
Take time for yourself and remember to Have Fun!
First of all, yes college can seem daunting and can make you nervous. But “nerves means you care” so take it in. You’re finally in college, hopefully you are studying something that you are interested in and growing as a person. So even though college makes you nervous, ask for help.
If you are overwhelmed by it all, remember to take some time for yourself. Your mental health is very important, you can only be the best version of yourself if you are actually happy or at least going from “shit to kinda okay”. “Kinda okay” is good enough sometimes. College is all about growing as a person and making the best memories you can. I know parents would frown upon this, but sometimes it’s okay once in a semester to take a day off during the week if you are overwhelmed and need a breather. You will thank yourself in the long run. But don’t make it into a habit. If it feels like too much, too often then reach out to someone and do something that used to make you happy before it’s too late.
Lastly, remember to have fun! You will not get back these four or three years (depending on where you’re at)!!!
P.S. I was going to do ten tips but I have said a lot in the six above and I know we all have things to do and places to be. If you would like more tips then let me know on Instagram (@sharikajain) and I can do another edition of college tips.