College 101: 5 Things Nobody Will Tell You Beforehand


This is a guest post written by web and interface designer and blogger, Elisa from MLKBOX


I’ve always been excited about college. Five years ago, as I made my way through the front door, the first thing that came to my mind was how I’ve finally left school. I hated school and wanted to leave so badly because college was, in my mind, better — and it was. Still, that doesn’t mean college was easy. During my 4 years of the college ride, I figured out certain things nobody told me before I landed my first step into the university ground and today, in my very first guest post on MW, I’m going to share with you some of these tips for some heads up.

Some, if not most, of these pieces of advice (or tips or reminders or whatever you want to call them) may sound cliché and obvious to you but trust me, I’ve seen college students who forgot about these things and then complained about the differences between college and high school.

Be a grown up, act like a grown up

What a cliché advice! But trust me, this is the first and probably most important point if you’re a college student or are becoming one very soon (and a point that’s easily forgotten too.) When you’re in college, you’re on your own. Not literally, of course but you know what I mean: your schedule, your assignments and deadlines, your time… everything is your responsibility. No matter what major or school you enrolled in, you should know that when you’re in university, you should know how to manage everything. In college, you are expected to be a grown up and act like one. Get a planner, draw some schedule, use and do anything to keep your responsibilities checked. 

Arden's input: Especially if you have to move away from hometown to go to college like myself, it will even be more of a change for you as you're thrown into a pool of a dozen new responsibilities. Don't fool yourself into thinking it's going to be the easiest thing. It takes time and practice to get all those responsibilities checked. 

Do your own research

Regardless of your major or the school you enrolled in, you are supposed to do your own research and find your own answers. If there’s one thing that differentiates college from high school, it’s the fact that your lecturers are not your teachers. Your teacher gives you step by step instructions on how to do this and that, your teacher tells and probably shows you how to do it. In college, your professor will only give you parts of what he or she knows. He or she will not spoon-feed you with answers because you are expected to progress, develop and grow by yourself. Your professor is not there to babysit and tie you up so you’ll follow their rules. For instance, during my years in design school, I had to figure out how to operate a 3D software on my own, how to code using CSS Media Query by myself and how to complete a solo video game project using a game engine program I had never touched before. Sure, you may ask your professors for some tips and tricks but don’t expect them to give you the full information. 

Arden's input: Exactly! They want you to figure out the answers by yourself more, depending on your own skills. If anything they are there for support if you need a slight push towards the right direction. 

It’s okay to fail

Nobody likes to fail, I know that. But if you did, that’s alright. I failed two classes during my first and second semester and I beat myself up because I thought I was dumb. Failure made me want to quit and transferred to another major but I didn’t because I didn’t want to start from scratch. The thing is, it’s alright to fail. In school, people get embarrassed when they stayed behind but in college, failure is more of an understandable thing. College students are too busy to care about others and when I failed, I wasn’t the only one who failed. Other students from other majors failed too, sometimes more than once or twice but we moved on, retook the subject(s) we failed and pushed through. College is difficult and sometimes there are bad days, bad grades and failure so instead of thinking you’re not good enough, remind yourself that it’s not the end of the world if you fail. 

Arden's input: When I failed my first class in college ever, I felt so bad about myself. I had always been able to keep my grades up even if they weren't near the A+ scale. When I failed Accounting class in my first semester, I was shocked and sad about it. But I realised that in college it is very much different and that I needed time to adjust to the new system! (Instead of taking tests every few weeks and months like in High School, in college I only take big exams at the end of each term now which is something to adapt to.) And I aced my second round. 

Stay away from drama

College may not be high school but that doesn’t mean drama won’t happen there. Here’s a smart tip: stay away from drama and focus on your study, your goal and degree. During my first few semesters, I witnessed some drama between my classmates, the fallout and everything. I was never involved in it because I was a loner whose routine was nothing but “go to college, attend class, go home.” I’m not saying you should be a loner with such a schedule, I’m just saying that it’s best to stay away from drama and focus on the more important things. Create a boundary, give yourself some limits as to how involved you should be. Because in the end, your assignment is way more important than the latest news of who’s dating who. 

Arden's input: Also a great tip – if it doesn't concern your life or your business, you don't need to get involved in that. Also, if there's no affect on you personally, there's no need to trash talk about others. 

Rest if you must

Your assignments and grades are important but your health is way more important. Get some sleep or take a short nap if you’re not feeling well. I know that sometimes assignments and deadlines may prevent us from resting but if there’s one way to manage that, it’s to manage your time and plan a schedule. For me, the best method is to invest in some progress for my assignments every day, bit by bit so I can still have time to unwind and do other things. I know it’s not easy but trust me when I say that no one cares (or at least, feels like they need to) about your mental and physical health as much as you do. You should always prioritise your health first above anything else. Take a break or two to relax your muscles and do some stretching. Drink some tea. Lie down for five minutes. Breathe. Besides, haven’t you heard that a well-rest and refreshed mind may even give you better ideas?

Alright, those are basically five things I’ve learned by myself when I was still in college. You may have heard about them before but I certainly did not have anyone informed or prepared me for these things. Nonetheless, I hope you find them as useful as I do. 


For a “College 101” version for design students, head over to Elisa's blog to read it! Thanks again to Elisa for submitting her guest post. I look forward to reading your comments on this, guys. 

If this inspired you to submit a college based guest post as well, feel free to send it over to anytime. 

Until then – stay productive,

Pictures were taken from MLKBOX blog.

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