Hey friends. I’m approaching my senior year of college at UW-Stout. It’s really weird, I feel like these years have gone by faster than high school did (sadly lol I didn’t like high school nearly as much). I also fully intend on being a Super Senior, as a huge scheduling dilemma let me down and set me back an entire year.
Based on my experiences at my small polytechnic university, here are some things I’ve learned while in college:
- Your plans will be ruined (how often, idk). You will have 0 say in when classes are offered unless 50 other students face the same scheduling issue as you. Until then, good luck, you might have to stay an extra year. You can only plan so much, as I’ve learned.
- You don’t have to be bff’s with your roommate(s) as long as you’re good roommates. I love my roommates a LOT and we are good friends in so many ways, but at the same time, I don’t expect them to include me in their wedding parties one day or their Friday night plans every weekend, and vice versa. As long as we get along as roommates and take care of the space we share and keep our home a safe place (emotionally and physically), we will remain good friends and awesome roommates 🙂 Make sure you respect their space and their wishes, clean up after yourself, don’t let the garbage can or recycling overflow, vacuum your carpet (please do), etc. Take care of the space you’ve been trusted with and your roommate shouldn’t have too much to complain about!
- You’re not obligated to do anything or be a part of anything you don’t want to be. This is something I struggled with a lot this past year. I was a Cru leader for 1.5 years, and I was incredibly burnt out by the end. I didn’t want to be a leader let alone be a part of any group anymore, but I let my guilt and sense of obligation keep me involved in something that I wasn’t excited about, and that was really draining. I felt so guilty for not wanting to be involved, but when I shared my feelings with staff and other leaders, they totally understood.
- It’s important to be kind to yourself – have some grace. I struggled with grace with myself in the above situation, and with homework assignments and projects that I know I could have put more effort into. I was unable to let go of my shortcomings in some of my classes because my classmates were just that much more talented than me — but then I remember that I haven’t been able to take my studios like the other students have (because of that unfortunate scheduling dilemma on the school’s part). I had to remind myself to be kind when I was beating myself up because of my sense of obligation to be a Cru leader, etc.
- Friends will come and go, and that’s okay. My mom has always told me that “some friends are only for a season,” and I didn’t really understand that until I got to college. The people I hung out with during freshman year of school have changed a lot, and some of them I no longer see, some moved away, some are totally different people and there just isn’t that common ground we once had. That’s okay! It’s the natural progression of life and relationships, and sure, in some situations I was really sad about it, but ultimately it’s been for the best. It’s been really cool to see them grow into themselves too, as I have. God works in mysterious ways!
- GET A JOB. This is all too important. I can’t tell you the amount of college students I know that don’t have a job — it’s crazy to me how they still have money to spend when they don’t work. I have worked 2-3 jobs my entire college career so far (yes, all at the same time) as a full-time student, and I have never regretted it. You learn awesome time management skills, you’ll learn other unrelated skills (guess who knows how to perfectly cut pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.? me – thx salad prep food service job), you’ll meet awesome people that you probably won’t see or meet outside of work, you’ll overall enjoy it a lot – yes, even working at the dining center can be fun (albeit not super glamorous). Sue, the lady that trained me on salad prep, was the cutest lady ever and she wanted to recommend me to be a student manager for the dining center! The older ladies in the dining center ROCK. Also, you’re gonna want spending money for food on the weekends, movies, gas, necessities, etc. And no, you can’t always rely on mom and dad for those kinds of things once you’re out the door. It’s just not realistic. Be responsible for yourself, and take advantage of the student employment opportunities on campus.
- Be kind to everyone. You have no idea who you’re going to bump into throughout the day, and you have no idea what they’re dealing with. I have always made a point to use my manners and thank people for holding the door for me, or asking the cashiers how they’re doing, etc. A little kindness goes a long way, and being nice to people makes everyone feel good.
- Communicate with your family. You don’t have to text them every single day, you don’t have to call them on the phone or FaceTime every week, but letting your parents know how you’re doing every once and a while is comforting for them to know you’re doing alright or if you’re having a hard time. Your fam wants to be there for you to support you, and you’re going to need them while at school (even if they’re far away). Don’t forget that they are there for you and that they love you! (This is not exclusive to blood-related family. Your family can be anyone you choose it to be!)
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re gonna need it. I didn’t ask for help with my college math class freshman year which was all Pre-calc (which I dropped in high school HAHA) and I barely passed with a low C. It was rough and I’m not proud of it. Imagine if I had just gone to the math tutors on campus and gotten my crap figured out?? But seriously, you’re gonna need help on at LEAST one assignment, so take advantage of your prof’s office hours, or their email (if they’re cool with you emailing – just don’t expect a response if you email them at 12am), take advantage of the study groups on campus – math tutors, the writing center, etc. You got this!
- Going home isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes UW-Stout is regarded as a suitcase school, because everyone disappears and goes home on the weekends (or everyone’s hungover so no humans are outside, which I find to be creepy and weird). This is not necessarily a bad thing! I loved going home once a month to work at Justice my freshman and sophomore years. It was a good chance to see my family and friends and get a break from school, as well as work and make some money at home! I also loved staying on campus when it was dead, because there’s something fun about being one of a few people left on your floor (watching a movie with the volume over 10? yes please), and getting breakfast at the dining center alone and enjoying some quiet. I feel like that’s weird, but I didn’t mind it. Find a healthy balance. I had a really hard transition my first couple weeks of school with AWFUL crippling anxiety and almost panic attacks, so I really enjoyed going home and seeing my family when I felt low.
- It’s going to be okay. No matter what. You’ll always get out of the thick of it. You’ve got the creator of the universe on your side. What could college throw your way that you can’t actually handle like a boss? Nothing.