What is college like now? How has higher education evolved, and what can you expect to see that people usually won’t talk about? Here are some obstacles you can expect in the current times, ways to overcome them and tips to surviving college.
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Surviving College – Primary Challenges
Student Loan Debt
One of the biggest challenges of surviving college is the student debt you take on to fund your higher studies. Depending on the location where you attend college, it can prove to be rather expensive. In some cases, the amount of money you can make at a job while attending college full time will not be enough to cover all of your expenses.
In that case, you will have to take out student loans. There is a lot of justified fears surrounding the topic, but the most important thing to focus on when taking out student loans is whether you have exhausted all sources of funding for your education:
- Have you applied for scholarships?
- Are you considering serving in the military to fund your education?
- Are there any on-campus jobs that will reduce tuition?
Once you have exhausted options like these, then you will be able to take out the least amount of loans as possible. If your financial options are very limited, do not panic.
If you know college is your best option at this point in your life, take the necessary steps to make it happen. Keep looking around in different places and online for more affordable college if you can’t afford it.
Seek and you shall find! For Americans afraid of student loan debt, please see my post on the topic here.
With the rise of the Internet and the development of all sorts of entertainment technologies like smartphones and streaming services like Netflix, staying focused is becoming harder and harder.
Staying focussed is crucial to your success and you should exercise restraint when indulging in leisure activity.
- Plan out your day and set timetables for when to get things done.
- Instead of setting the goal “Study for test” on your calendar, instead, say “Study for 1+ hour in each subject each day.”
- Adjust your study time to match the intensity of your workload.
Information is easier to obtain now than ever. Do not fall into the cycle of plagiarism or copying from work put in by others. Avoiding plagiarism like plague is key to surviving college from an academic viewpoint.
- Paraphrase and Quote – Make sure when you are quoting or using someone else’s intellectual property, that you paraphrase as much as possible.
- Do not Procrastinate – Avoid plagiarism by not waiting until the last minute to complete essays. A lot of cases of plagiarism are accidental.
- Use Plagiarism Checking Software – You do not want to be penalized for accidental plagiarism. There are websites like Copyscape and TurnItIn that will assist in paraphrasing.
- Enrich your personal vocabulary – Use a thesaurus, expand your vocabulary, and legitimately understand the information you are writing about and this will not be a problem.
Plan ahead for employment. The sooner you can secure a job near campus, the better. Surviving college is also about smartly managing your finances.
If you are going into school, start applying for jobs as soon as you get accepted to the university. Employment is on a first come, first serve basis, and you don’t want to wait until the last minute when the only jobs available are very unfavourable. The early bird gets the worm!
Surviving College – Secondary Challenges
Having a vehicle if you can afford it is preferable, but in the case that you don’t have one, getting around can be difficult.
- Discuss options with near and dear ones – Be sure to discuss with family and friends ways in which you can ensure you have reliable transportation.
- Mentally tag people with cars – Make a mental note of nearby people who may have cars so that you can reach out to them for transportation in emergencies.
- Pay for Gas – Insist on money for gas, because you don’t want to stress your relationships. Your friends have places to be and things to do.
- Remember and reciprocate favours – Keep in mind that whenever someone takes time out of their day to bring you somewhere they don’t need to go, they are doing you a huge favour.
- Rideshare Services – Use rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft for those times when nobody is available.
Be sure that you have health insurance, as you will put a lot of strain on your body and mind while in college.
- Be certain to speak with counsellors and social workers in times of stress.
- There will be times where you don’t know the answers, but there are people that know exactly what you should do next. Find those people and they will be happy to help you and make your college experience better.
- Take care of both your physical and your mental health. Try out simple exercise routines like walking and yoga.
Do not neglect your family. Until you are completely on your own, they are still your social and financial support system. College life also puts strains on family bonds and surviving college is about not letting your family bonds snap.
- Home Rules Still Apply – When you return home on breaks, keep in mind that all the rules from before still apply. If you can’t respect your parents or guardians’ legal household like before, problems will arise. Remember that your parents will always see you as their little boy/girl.
- Keep Good Terms Always – If it’s difficult for you to follow your parents’ rules, consider moving out completely/permanently but on good terms. Some parents do not understand that you have adult responsibilities too now and in that case, it is best to give each other space.
- All support is welcome – In the years ahead, your family will become less and less engrossed in your daily life and you will lean on spouses and friends for support.
- Respect your Parents – Do not forget what your parents have done for you and remain respectful and honourable. How you treat your parents and siblings will have an effect on other relationships in your life.
- Grow up to the challenges ahead – Keep in mind that things are about to get very challenging for you and it’s time to make the smartest decisions you possibly can in the coming years!
Stay away from drugs and go easy on alcohol. There will always be somebody throwing a party. Don’t let social events distract you too much and make you too unfocused. Once you have graduated and landed that nice job where you’re off every weekend, you will have plenty of time (and money) to do all the partying you want to do.
These are the tips for surviving college from a millennial, I hope it was useful. If you enjoyed this or found this useful, there is plenty more content like this on my site at www.dabbergasted.com. Remember: Don’t get flabbergasted, get dabbergasted!