As a fifth year college student, or super senior, I’ve learned plenty of things, and guess what? They’re not really anything I’ve learned in my classes. Most of what I’ve learned during my time in college has to do with tips that I can use to help my younger friends and cousins (and readers) as they start heading into college. Though some of those I can apply to my life after college as well.
Now, I’m not the average college student who went straight to a four-year school and lived there, or even a two-year school then transferred and lived at a four-year school. Nope, I went from going to school at a community college for a year-and-a-half to a year at online university where I received my Associate’s Degree, then after a ten-month hiatus I transferred into a four-year school that I commute to everyday for classes.
Since I have never lived on a college campus, there is no actual way for me to give you tips about the dorm life, but I feel that if you are a resident student or are going to be one you can at learn from what I do have to say about my college experience.
1. Studying at Home is Impossible
This one is a biggie! This is also something I’ve learned the hard way, but in reality I should’ve known from the start that trying to study at home was a terrible idea. Why? I’ll tell you why. Home is home; home is where we relax after a stressful day of classes or work (or both). We have TV, food, video games, our beds, more food… need I go on?
With all these distractions it is entirely impossible to study. Plus there is the fact that I could also find just about anything to do rather than study including dishes, laundry, cleaning out the litter box, etc. So how did I ever get any work done? Simple. I went to the library.
Seriously though, a nice quiet place without all those distractions is exactly what I need to get my studying done. As of now I use my school’s library to get away and do my work and when I was an online student I went to my town’s public library; it wasn’t as quiet, but I still got a lot of work done.
2. Listen to Classical Music When Studying
If you want to, then do it. I only recently started doing this, but I found that it is actually quite relaxing. We’ve all heard that there have been studies about students listening to classical music while studying and how it supposedly enhances learning and memory. I don’t know how reliable these studies are, as I haven’t actually looked much into it, but I like it and some of my friends do as well. However, some people cannot listen to anything while they are studying because it can be distracting, which I completely understand since everyone is different and therefore have different studying habits.
So for listening to classical music a lot of people use Pandora, which I used to use, but the ads can be distracting. I currently use iHeartRadio since there are no ads to break the music flow.
3. Reading Assignments Are Not Always Necessary
I know this sounds really bad to not do reading assignments, but the truth is, it’s not always needed. For the most part, professors will give students all they need to know for exams in the lecture notes and/or PowerPoint presentations. In fact, one of my current professors stated in the syllabus that all exams are based on the PowerPoint’s and lectures only (which really bites since I did buy the book). From experience though, most professors will say that students “need” to do the reading, but again, I say it depends. If the professor is one of those professors that uses information from the side notes that no one ever reads for exams, then yes, I’ll read the book. Otherwise, I just get through the first few weeks and see if the reading really is necessary or not. If you don’t believe me, in the last year I have taken two classes where my professors said the reading was required and without reading past the first chapter of each text, I pulled off A’s in both classes based on the notes I took in class (Not that I’m bragging. Really, I’m not.)
4. Always Back Up Files. Always.
I cannot stress how important this is. Of course, I did know this going into college, but backing up files is even more important in college. Trust me, it is terrible to lose everything on your computer because you didn’t back up your files. Between 2009 and 2013 my white MacBook crashed twice and everything got wiped out. Luckily, only a few files were gone forever and thankfully they weren’t anything important.
So for backing up my files, I tend to just use flash drives. I have a ton of flash drives that are full of video projects, my best papers and my best stories. I literally just downloaded DropBox the other day to back up my files as well (and also to have my files accessible if I forget my flash drives).
5. Make Connections With Professors
It took me until after I had begun working my Bachelor’s Degree to learn this, but if I’ve learned anything at all from college, it’s to make networking connections with professors in your major. I have one major connection with my advisor, who I have also had for a few COMM courses, and it has gotten me the job I have right now working in my school’s media center.
The production supervisor was looking for Communication students for two open spots in the media center and my professor gave him my name and he contacted me via email, we set up an interview and I was hired right away. I could not be happier with this job and the people I work with and the experience I’m getting working in a production studio environment and getting to edit shows throughout the semester. I have my advisor to thank since she referred me for the job. Networking is important!
6. Take Good Notes
This pretty much connects to the whole reading part. If the notes aren’t good, then there’s nothing to study for the test.
What do I mean by ‘good notes?’ Well, two things. One, they have to make sense, so when you go back to them you know what the notes mean, and two, handwriting. I never had too much trouble making sense of my notes so it’s mostly been the handwriting I’ve had trouble with. I swear, I am one of the only girls on this planet with handwriting worse than a doctor’s. Thankfully, the solution is simple: take notes on my laptop (if the professor allows it). If not, then I just do the best I can to make my writing legible.
7. Don’t Sweat the Small Things
This has always been an area I’ve had trouble with. In the past I’d freak out over the smallest things and sometimes I still do if I’m having a not-so-great day. Last semester, for example, I was convinced I was going to fail my film production class because I was having trouble and getting frustrated with trying to come up with a film idea, so I was certain I was going to fail. I remember talking to my advisor and worrying that I’d have to drop the class so my GPA wouldn’t be affected and set back my graduation date. Needless to say, that worrying was for nothing because by the grace of God I got an A- in that class so my freaking out was for nothing. I’ve learned from plenty of experiences similar to this one that it’s not worth it to get upset over one bad project, paper or test.
So those are seven of the most important things that I’ve learned in college outside of the classroom. Some of those probably will not help me too much in the future, but not worrying about small things and networking are definitely ones I can bring into my near-future as I set my sights on graduating and starting a career in a field I love.
There are probably a lot more I could’ve mentioned, but I felt like these were the most important ones to talk about. So I hope by sharing what I’ve learned in my college experience can help anyone who is in college or going into college and comes across my blog. Even if you’re not in college maybe some of these can apply to you in your professional life, which would be awesome if it does.