The answer to that great question is you. Whether you’re currently an upperclassmen or “fresh meat” such as myself, you know what it feels like to start college away from home on your own. Books have been written about what to do before or during college, but here are five tips that encompass all of those wordy definitions that you don’t have time to read:
1. “Question everything.”
You’re at Gustavus – a prestigious liberal arts college where individuality and creativity are not only encouraged, but expected. Some people here make the class clown back at my high school look as lively as Eeyore. While Gustavus is small in comparison to most other colleges and universities, it’s larger than most high schools. Also, the diverse backgrounds will expose you to different people and ideas. The various beliefs you’ll encounter will make you question your own beliefs, and you may be surprised to find out who you’ll be in a year from now.
2. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
I’m not only talking about those textbooks giving you back problems, but the individuals and events around you. Someone sitting in the cafeteria alone? Ask them if they’d like someone to sit with them. Get to know people around you, and give them a chance to open up. Some organizations or events on campus sound weird, but mildly interesting? Check them out – they may provide you opportunities for these next four years, and a chance to meet more people with a similar mindset to your own. And yes, open up those textbooks that house all the information for your classes.
3. “Keep tabs on your money.”
This one is a no-brainer, but I’m not talking about making sure you’ve always got your wallet or purse on you, and all your bills accounted for. Keep tabs on how much you’re spending, and keep in mind the investments you’ll be making in the future. College tuition is pricey, but the real world also has expenses that will drain your finances, whether it be the necessities like food, or temptations like Grand Theft Auto 5 (or even an actual car). As a Spanish teacher once taught me, “control your impulses, or your impulses will control you.”
No, this isn’t a rip off of Shakespeare. Procrastination is a quintessential part of college, whether you’re a perfectionist or the embodiment of Bart Simpson. If you devote all your time to your classes and future planning, you’ll let the present moments slip past, never to be regained. College is four years just like high school, so you should have an idea of how fast these “best years of your life” will fly by. If you’re putting off that eight-page paper until the night before it’s due, make sure it’s because you have a messy dorm to tidy up or you’re committing time to your friends or groups you’re involved in. In fact, a certain someone is putting off some Three Crowns Curriculum readings to write this very article!
5. “Have fun!”
Sorry, were the past suggestions a tad cliche? The best years of your life should be the most they can be, and that’ll only happen if you jump out of your comfort zone. A ship is safe in its harbor, but that’s not what ships are made for. If you’re a first-year student, you’ve already made it through a ninth one of your first year. It may feel like you haven’t seen your parents and siblings for a while, but time actually went by fairly quick. The classes and groups you sign up for should make you think differently while enjoying yourself. Get involved, make well-intentioned mistakes, and for the love of Gustavus, show some of that Gustie Pride!