They say you learn a lot about yourself during college, and I definitely learned a lot about myself (and life) through trial and error during my first semester at the University of Iowa. I was away from home for the first time, experiencing life on my own, and I had absolutely no clue what I was doing.
So I tried different ways of doing things. Sometimes I was successful, and sometimes I failed. But I learned a lot – that’s what matters.
Before I get into the main part of this post, one thing I learned about myself is that I really, really love lists. To-do lists, TV show lists, book lists, bucket lists, blog post lists, and so on.
So, in list form, here are the most important things I learned during my first semester of college:
Study, study, study
I didn’t expect college to be easy. I knew it was going to be harder than high school.
And I knew I was being ridiculous when I didn’t really study for a few of my midterms, but I thought maybe – just maybe – my scores would be fine despite not studying. But I was wrong.
I got my act together after that and studied for my finals, and I did well.
Had I studied for those midterms, I definitely had a good shot at a 4.0 GPA. But I didn’t, so the only thing I can do now is make sure I study smart for all future exams.
It’s easy to fall behind
I procrastinated. A lot.
And it’s really easy to fall behind in college. Professors aren’t going to stop and wait for you to catch up. (But you can go to office hours for extra help!)
It was stressful having to rush to write papers and put together presentations at the last minute. I’d like to avoid doing that next semester.
Ask for help if you need it
There’s no shame in needing help, whether it’s academic or mental.
Go to office hours. Get a tutor. See a therapist.
Do whatever it takes to be successful, but make sure you’re healthy while doing it.
Don’t put yourself down
Perfection doesn’t exist. You can try to be perfect, but you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.
Don’t put yourself down if you don’t get an A or a B. Don’t put yourself down if you struggle in an “easy course.” Don’t put yourself down if you have to withdraw from a course for whatever reason. Don’t put yourself down if you decide to change your major.
College is the time to find yourself. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to change your mind. And it’s perfectly normal to do so.
Stop being afraid
Go outside of your comfort zone once in a while. Put yourself out there to truly experience life.
In the sports industry, making connections and knowing the right people is incredibly important. I have to put myself out there, and that’s not something I’m used to doing.
I missed out on a couple opportunities during first semester because I was too “afraid” to go outside my comfort zone, but I’m aiming to change that during second semester.
Rent textbooks online
Last semester, I rented textbooks through a site called Chegg. It’s a lot cheaper than buying textbooks at list price because you can save up to 90%.
When it’s time to return the books, you can print off a prepaid shipping label and drop the box off at the nearest UPS location. And you can highlight the rental books (just don’t write in them).
I’ll be using Chegg again for textbooks during the spring semester.
Don’t rush into getting an apartment
The day before finals week, my roommate and I decided to find an apartment to live in during sophomore year. That was on Sunday.
On Monday, we met up with another girl and decided it would be the three of us living in the apartment.
On Tuesday, we visited the apartment, and a few hours later we were signing the lease.
We hardly looked around. We just saw a picture, decided we liked it, and were like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” We could’ve found a cheaper place. A way, way cheaper place. Not to mention, the apartment is a 30-minute walk from Kinnick Stadium and the football facility, which means I’ll probably need to invest in a bike to get to practice every day.
I’m taking it as a learning experience. Next year, I’ll start looking for an apartment (or a house) a lot sooner and I’ll spend a lot of time looking to make sure I’m making a good decision.
Don’t order take-out all the time
During the summer I downloaded an app called Grubhub, which is an food ordering and delivery company. My parents knew it would prove to be a problem, and they weren’t wrong.
I didn’t spend an insane amount of money, but I did order take-out a lot more often than I should have. My savings started to dwindle to a point where I had to delete the app because I apparently have no self-control.
Don’t force yourself to become someone you’re not
When you go to college, you can re-invent yourself. You can be whoever you want to be; you can be whoever you were afraid to be.
But make sure it’s still you. Make sure you’re still proud of yourself when you look in the mirror.
Thank you for reading! Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post! And if you’d like to see more of my everyday life as an Iowa student, feel free to follow me on social media. Go Hawks!
Instagram · Snapchat · Twitter