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10 Things I Wish I’d Known In College

10 Things I Wish I’d Known In College

As a recent college graduate, I can look back on my school years with some fond feelings and some memories that I’d rather just forget. So that you don’t have to make the same (many) mistakes that I did, here are the 10 things that I wish someone had told me before I’d set off for the chaos that is freshman year.

Your major will not define your entire life

This is one that I feel particularly passionate about because I seemed to spend most of my college years trying to explain—whether to students who actually had their lives figured out, or to my grandma—why I’d chosen to major in a “pointless” subject like English. This proved pretty difficult considering I wasn’t even sure why I’d chosen to go to college and “but I don’t want to be an engineer” didn’t seem to be a good enough answer. Obviously, the first thing to glean from this is that taking your time to make an educated decision about something that’s going to take up a lot of your time and resources, is probably a good idea.

Luckily, I discovered the concept of transferable skills. Sure, if you major in “Bowling Industry Management and Technology”, you’ve probably got a specific career path in mind. But if you decide somewhere down the line that bowling isn’t for you, you’ve learned management skills that can be applied in any workplace. More importantly, I loved English—and isn’t that the point?

Grades are actually important…

Unfortunately, despite the many transferable skills you might learn at college (like how to do laundry, or perhaps how to sleep and look like you’re concentrating at the same time), employers do evaluate you on your GPA (many companies actually filter applications by GPA). When it comes down to it, you’re at college to learn, so prioritize your studies, work hard and try your best to maintain a good GPA.

But a bad grade is not the end of the world

Throughout college, it was not unusual to find me shuddering over the memory of one particularly terrible grade. The dread and nausea had been made worse because I knew that I’d deserved it—I’d rushed the assignment to spend more time with my friends. With all my plans to graduate and stumble upon a career, it hadn’t really crossed my mind that I could, very possibly, fail college. This grade told my sleep-deprived and caffeinated self that my future was over.

After an extremely emotional and somewhat embarrassing visit to my professor’s office, and a math calculation by a friend who actually understood numbers, I was relieved to discover that this blip had barely affected my average. It turns out that we all have good and bad days, and if anything, this terrifying reality check shocked me into trying harder at everything else.

You don’t have to go to college straight away

One of my biggest regrets is not taking a gap year. With the relentless pressure to go to college, staying on at school can feel like the only option, but the reality is: it’s not. Your college education will still be there when you’ve had a bit more time to figure it all out.

Having a part time job is underrated 

Having something that is outside of school and being surrounding by a completely different type of friend is refreshing. Looking back, the excuse to leave the house for an environment where I had fun and physically was not allowed to study, definitely got me through my final semester. Also, the extra money and experience didn’t hurt.

Make the most of the experience

It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of college and adult life. Unfortunately, this stress does not stop after college, so you might as well make the most of it while you can. Say yes to classes that intrigue you, join in activities, learn a random skill and always take advantage of fresh air when you can.

Toxic people are to be eliminated from your life

It took me a good few years to get this mantra down. When you go to college, you’re thrown together with random people and forced to make friends or else have nobody to borrow milk from during times of need. This does not a good friendship make.

If somebody is negative, belittling or controlling, or simply brings way too much drama into your life, it’s okay to distance yourself. Toxic people will always drain your attempts to be positive and drag you down with them, which is not part of the college experience.

College can be lonely and that’s okay

Especially in freshman year, there’s an expectation that you should be having the best time of your life. Often on social media, this is reflected by constant partying, social engagements, and people spending money that they don’t have. Whilst I was happy to enjoy this unrealistic way of life for a while, it quickly became exhausting.

Surrounded by a crowd of semi-familiar faces, it is actually easy and normal to feel lonely at college. After moving away from everything you’re familiar with, it’s important to take time out to assess your state-of-mind and recharge.

Stop taking things personally

This is one that I’m still working towards. Being in a competitive situation that forces you to compare yourself to your peers can damage your self-esteem and solicit your defence mechanisms. By knowing your worth, not jumping to conclusions and letting things like a bad grade go, you’re automatically promoted to the master of your own emotions and energy levels.

Being addicted to coffee is totally fine…probably

My dependence on caffeine is definitely helping me now that I’ve graduated and actually have to get out of bed in the mornings. Take this advice at your own peril.

Further reading: 5 Reasons to Have Houseplants in Your Dorm Room

Bullet Journaling

Seven Effective Bullet Journaling Tips

By Rose Martin

College life can be extremely stressful. Balancing multiple responsibilities, projects, examinations, extracurricular activities, work and social life is an overwhelming experience for most students, often causing them to lose sight of their long-term aspirations. Every student struggles with effective time management and organization amidst the chaotic college schedule, which may contribute to stunting his/her career growth. If you are looking for a simple and effective way to organize your life, bullet journaling can help you manage your tasks and set your priorities right, putting you on the fast track to success.

A neat and organized bullet journal with intricately-designed pages and handwritten notes speaks volumes about your personality. Though bullet journaling isn’t easy, it is a quick and effective technique to get a grip on your life, inspiring you to stay organized, creative and productive.

Here are seven valuable bullet journaling tips that will help you stay organized and manage your time, enabling you to build a bright and successful future.

  1. Determine your objective

Before you dive into bullet journaling, it’s crucial for you find your motivation. Determining your expectations and motives for starting a bullet journal will help you document your life events and goals in an effective manner. Moreover, your primary and secondary objectives will determine the format of the journal, enabling you to include the necessary sections or collections.

For instance, if your primary objective is to organize your college life, your journal must give due importance to your lecture schedule, the study time, the extra classes and the examination schedules. You could have other objectives of starting a journal, namely planning your diet and workout sessions and/or monitoring your savings and expenses.

  1. Focus on the basic elements

The index, the collections, the rapid-logging, and the migration make up the basic structure of a bullet journal.

Index  

The index typically takes the first page of the bullet journal that helps the journalist to organize the various sections or collections, ensuring easy navigation through the journal pages. Make sure you include all the important topics with the corresponding page numbers and leave enough space for sections you might want to include later.

Collections

Every page in the bullet journal is given a topic that serves as a means to organize similar ideas. These topics are referred to as collections which may utilize several pages of the journal. The three main types of collections are –

  1. Future Log – This section is used to note down events and appointments in the future
  2. Monthly Log – This section enables you to organize your month using the calendar page and the task page. The calendar page must have enough space to enter short notes or events that you need to remember.
  • Daily Log – This section helps you manage your daily tasks, events, and notes in order of their occurrence.

Depending on your objectives, collections can also take additional forms, namely meeting notes, shopping lists, expenditures and mind maps.

  • Rapid-Logging: Rapid-logging helps you make entries in the short-form notation using bullets and signifiers. You can use the task (indicated by a dot), the event (indicated by an open circle), or the note bullets (indicated by a dash) throughout the collections to signify whether they are scheduled, changed, or completed.

A few examples of signifiers are a star symbol (*) for priority tasks, an eye for ideas you need to explore, a dollar sign ($) for purchases, and an exclamation mark (!) for a new inspiration.

  • Migration: Migration helps you review your performance and filter out the tasks that haven’t been accomplished. It is typically done at the end of a month when preparing the next month’s log. Evaluate whether the unfinished tasks are still crucial and worth doing and migrate them between collections on a monthly basis.

Further reading: Six Helpful Time-Management Tips for College Students

  1. Use signifiers and doodles creatively

Embellishing your bullet journal with signifiers and doodles will make it look arty and appealing. Signifiers give the bullet points an additional context, enabling you to enter short notes in a creative manner. Elements such as dots, circles, dashes, stars or asterisks, crosses, right and left arrows and exclamation marks help you chart out the daily, weekly, or monthly plan quickly and easily.

  1. Invest in good-quality tools

For bullet journaling, you will require tools such as a notebook, pens, sketch pens, rulers, Washi tapes, and stickers. These tools will determine the life and the attractive appeal of your bullet journal. Moreover, good-quality tools will help you stay committed to the cause, motivating you to use them creatively in your journal.

Invest in archival-quality paper that is acid-free, enabling you to keep your handwritten records safe and fade-proof. Most bullet journalists seem to prefer notebook brands, namely Leuchtturm 1917, Moleskine, Rhodia and Essentials. Pigment and ink pen brands like Sakura Micron, PilotFriXion, Staedtler Triplus Fineliner and Uni-ball Jetstream can help add a touch of color and creativity to your journal.

  1. Don’t go completely off technology

Traditionally, a bullet journal involves penning down your daily activities, events and future goals. However, amidst your demanding schedule, you may miss out on some important events or deadlines. Use digital tools such as Google Calendar, Todoist and Evernote along with your bullet journal to manage your appointments, project deadlines and tasks effectively.

For instance, at the beginning of the month, enter your monthly plan in the Google Calendar and use your bullet journal as a daily tool to compile and monitor the tasks, the events, and the goals by referring to the digital calendar.

Using the best of both worlds (on and offline) will help you organize your life and focus on your professional and personal goals.

  1. Don’t be afraid to experiment with bullet journaling

Bullet journaling is a creative journey in which you constantly need to experiment in order to come up with the most effective organization style that meets your needs. Since you are new to this process you may be tempted to follow the various formats available online. Regardless of whether you try the original Ryder Carroll style or other contemporary ideas, remember to experiment and be open to change. Retain what’s working for you and get rid of formats that are not helping you achieve your objectives.

  1. Get inspired, but avoid comparison

The internet is full of inspiration with millions of Instagram and Pinterest users posting gorgeous bullet journal pages. It’s ok to refer to them for a few creative ideas, however, avoid comparing your journal with others. Every person has a specific objective for maintaining their bullet journal and the format will change accordingly.

Comparing yourself with others will disappoint you and stop you from trying new things. Your bullet journal is unique to you and must meet your requirements. For instance, if you like to express everything using symbols and doodles, nothing should stop you. Similarly, if you prefer scribbling your goals instead of using symbols, go ahead and do it.

College life is all about planning and organizing tasks, managing time effectively and setting objectives that help you realize your purpose in life. Use the above-mentioned bullet journaling tips to take control of your life and build a bright career.

Rose Martin is an editor at Book Siren. Book Siren helps readers learn about various book publications and authors. Rose likes to travel with friends and family. Her main interests are music, reading novels and fitness. Reach out to Rose at martinrrrose@gmail.com.