An Undergraduate-Eye View: Tips for College

As an addendum to our last post, Leaving Soon for College? Dr. Yo’s 6 Simple Tips for Guaranteed Success (What are YOURS?), Emerson undergraduate Laura Cryan has these words of wisdom:

Tips for Success in College


Photo credit: Jenna Castro

by Laura Cryan


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It frustrates me when students expect the degree itself to get them a job, any sort of special recognition, or to magically endow them with special skills. It won’t. College campuses are full of amazing resources – many of which are untapped by a lot of students, simply because they don’t know about them, don’t care about them, or find themselves “too busy” to explore them. Tuition doesn’t just cover the cost of the classes you’re taking; your tuition allows you access to the playground of knowledge at your fingertips. Take advantage of it.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Towards the end of my freshman year I let go of some of the extra curricular activities I was less thrilled about, so I could give myself some more free time. In my free time, I could go to our library and peruse screenplays. I could go to lunch with friends without marking it in my calendar. I could sleep for more than six hours a night. I learned to knit, I wrote for myself instead of for a class, and I started exploring the interests I have outside of my major.

Stop Glorifying “Busy”

“How are you?”

“Oh, you know, busy!”

Let me tell you what this response tells me about you. It tells me that you believe your time is so precious – and more precious than mine, apparently – that you can’t engage in a short conversation with someone. It tells me your schedule is full of probably-really-important meetings and extracurricular activities and other commitments. You probably have an iCal color-coding your day [Dr. Yo: Hey, I do!] . You probably spend your commute to campus buried in your phone, rewriting your to-do list for the week.

The thing is, I get it. My freshman year was just like that. But here’s what I learned.
While you’re running around like a rat in a sewer to keep all of your appointments, you’re not being fair to yourself. You likely do not need to fill your day with activities just to keep up with your peers. People like to be able to say that they’re busy because that keeps them from looking lazy. The irony there is, that’s the laziest way of doing that.

At first, I doubted myself for giving myself a more relaxed schedule, because I knew some of my peers had more on their plates, and were managing it just fine. However, as the semester wore on, those peers grew ragged. They would blow off their friends because they had some important meeting to go to. They would let romantic relationships fall by the wayside because they were “too busy” to give them the attention they needed.

But here’s the crazy thing: They liked it that way. They liked feeling that security blanket of always having somewhere to be and something to do with their days. Without it, they felt stripped of their sense of purpose, which is just about the scariest feeling that you can have when you’re away from home for the first time.

Take a deep breath, take on only as much as you can handle, and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. College is about learning, and if you do it right, you’ll learn a lot more than what you’re taught in your classes.

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