Coming into college, I had a lot of expectations for what life would be like on my own. Whether that be from TV, movies, social media, or my family, I felt prepared to take charge, and make the most of my college life. But the reality is, it’s hard to know what it’s truly going to be like until you get there. I’m not saying my experience has been anything short of amazing, just different than what I was expecting. Below, I’m going to highlight some differences I’ve noticed in my few short weeks here, and try to give some tips on how to smooth the transition.
My friends and I in high school were constantly slammed with things to do from sports, clubs, homework, social life; it was a lot. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed is how much free time I have now. From having only 3-4 classes spread out throughout the day, to sorority meetings once or twice a week, there are many times throughout the day I find myself lying in my dorm, just relaxing. While I love my downtime, I’m also a person that needs to feel productive.
Tip: Plan ahead. I suggest using a planner (electronic or paperback) to figure out your schedule so you can maximize your time. Some examples of ways to fill your free time are studying, cleaning up, grabbing coffee with a friend, working out, calling your parents, and you can’t forget some downtime!
I’m sure everyone has had at least one teacher in high school say “this won’t fly when you get to college.” Well, I’m here to tell you, that hasn’t been my experience. The workload is relatively similar, with the biggest difference being the reading that comes with each of my classes. The good news is professors and TA’s are super nice, and there to help you! Everyone I’ve reached out to for an extension because I was sick, or extra help on my homework has been more than happy to help and walk me through it. Plus, everything is super manageable as long as you plan your time wisely!
Tip: I’m going to sound like a broken record, but utilizing a planner to help keep track of dates and assignments will truly be a lifesaver. On top of that, TA’s and professors have office hours that my friends and I agree are extraordinarily helpful in answering your specific questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out; everyone wants to see you succeed!
Now that your mom or dad isn’t there to cook for you, your diet is completely up to you. The dining halls are amazing and have so many options to choose from. Not to mention the delicious dessert assortment. You also get to go grocery shopping, so the snack choices are endless. It’s easy to just eat all the junk food you want since no one is there to tell you otherwise. However, you’ll slowly begin to notice the impact that has on your energy levels.
Tip: I always strive to eat something green with every meal. I’m not one to pass up a good slice of pizza or late-night Pancheros, but at the end of the day, I always feel more energized and motivated when I eat something to nourish my body. My favorite place in the Catlett Dining hall is Sprouts because of their salad bar, fruit, and good sandwiches or wraps that always satisfy my hunger (and are delicious at the same time)!
Basic Health and Hygiene
After late nights of studying or hanging out with friends, it’s easy to just collapse into bed and crash. Coming into college, basic things like showering or doing my laundry seemed daunting because it’s a whole new experience. Not to mention, sometimes I feel like I don’t have the time to schedule a workout or get some fresh air. However, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken a step back, refreshed, and rediscovered that extra time and motivation to fit those things back into my schedule, and my body has thanked me for it!
Tip: Be proactive and preventative. Listen to your body, and give it what it needs; you’ll only become more productive and motivated because of it. Whether it be a long, warm shower, or a nice sweaty workout, it feels good to take some time for yourself. This also makes sure you remain healthy. As an incoming college student, you’re exposed to lots of different things, and many kids get sick in the first few months. Listening to your body, and fueling it with what it needs makes a huge difference! As for mental health, Iowa provides amazing (and free) counseling services that are available to all students. They’re a great resource, and there to help you if you need it!
I hope these few pointers help with maintaining a consistent schedule as you enter the next phase of your life! So far, it has been so much fun and such an amazing learning experience.
As always, go hawks!