Friday, August 31, 2012

Dear college students, Quick Takes 2


Wow, a whole year has gone by since my last "Dear College Students" advice spew-age and this time I have some new on-campus experience to back me up! This week was my first week of classes in three and a half years and I'm loving it all over again! It has prompted a whole new list of advice (it's a compulsion), so for those college students out there, this one is for you:

Phones - Oh my gosh. When I was in college, smartphones were extremely rare and very expensive. Few people had them. Yes, there would be a lot of texting and talking going on during the daily class commute, but good grief, nothing like I'm seeing on my campus now. PLEASE, just put your phone away. You will never have the opportunity to see as many people your age on a daily basis as you do in college and you're spoiling it for yourself by permanently positioning your head downward, flicking through Facebook, Words with Friends, and the weather (or whatever y'all are doing on there).

Headphones - I repeat: You will never have the opportunity to see as many people your age on a daily basis as you do in college. You can listen to music when you're doing your homework or when you're by yourself. Can't you just pay attention to the people around you during your walk? I understand some people are anxious and need to calm down with some tunes, but I suggest you'd be less anxious if you gave your mind some quiet time and absorbed your surroundings.

Smile - This is in-line with the prior nuggets of advice. Once you have mastered storing your phone and your iPod in your bag, notice how many people you're passing along the way. This is not high school anymore. It's OKAY to be friendly and to make people around you feel good and welcome! Smile at the passersby, say hello, wish someone a good morning, all because you CAN. I can't stress this enough: the real world doesn't often bring you into contact with as many strangers as you see in college. Revel in it!

Date dorks - I don't mean the term "dork" as an insult. It's quite the opposite! I love "dorks" and they are SO much more worthy of your time than the other (two word) phrase that begins with a D and ends with a G. In the last week, I have passed by so many potential two-words (yes, I judged them) and overheard some tales of their conquests. I've also passed by many "dorks" and I am here to tell you THOSE are the guys you want. THOSE are the ones who will respect you and be there for you (generally). Give THOSE guys a chance.

Trends - Feel free to ignore this one, as I am just about the least fashionable person on my current campus. I suggest not spending at ton of money on fashion trends. If it makes you feel better to be hip-shooby-do-hip-flip-city, by all means, spend $100 on a nice day dress you'll wear 3 times. Otherwise: no one cares if you're wearing something that is 'so last season,' at least not those who value who you really are. Treat yourself, sure! But don't go broke in the process.

Take the stairs - Plan ahead and make it a habit to take the stairs. I have walked about 20 miles in the last week, no joke. Ask me how much I walked on a weekly average during the last three years in the work force. The answer is closer to 20 meters. Enjoy this time in your life where you use your body as more than a mode of transport for your brain from the desk to the water cooler. If you make it a habit to take the stairs and walk when you can now, perhaps you'll hang onto that when you go into the workforce. 

Side note: when college students go into the workforce, they typically start gaining a few pounds, likely because they transition from walking everywhere to sitting at a desk 8 hours a day. Think ahead.

Just do it - My parents were extremely gracious to pay for my undergraduate education. I never realized the value of it, but I have a better grasp on that now. It's worth about $100 an hour in the classroom, everyday for a whole semester. Now that I'm paying for my own degree, you better believe I'm going to class with walking pneumonia. Snooze button? You're joking me. I call that the weakness button. The button for those who don't mind flushing their money and time down the toilet.

Just do your work. You have a spare hour, reread your notes. It's a rainy Saturday night and you're too tired to go out, get ahead on your paper due in two weeks. You have an awkward hour and thirty minutes between classes, spend your time looking over the syllabus and planning out when you're going to do which assignments on what day. Just do it. That's your job. It's a sign of true gratitude to your parents, if you're fortunate enough to have parents who are paying your tuition, and it's a sign of non-stupidity, if you're like me and saved up for three years just to empty your bank account for your education.

Get involved - Let me let you in on a little secret: you're not that busy.

How many hours per day are you in class? Three hours one day? Six hours on a really bad day? Ask your dad how many hours he's working his day job. Then ask him how many hours he "works" as a dad, taking care of your family. Then ask him what weekend activities he's involved in. Finally, ask him what he does in his spare time.

The majority of your time is spare time, I'm sorry to say. I know you're spending a lot of time walking, in class, studying, and fostering relationships. That's beautiful! That's what you're supposed to be doing at your age and stage of life! But don't stop there! Get involved with a club or three. Go to campus events. Meet the people in your class and ask them to join you for coffee. SPEND your time rather than letting it go by unaccounted for.

I want to offer a big plug for getting involved in your Catholic campus ministry club. Yes, it will be awkward to introduce yourself to new people and you may be intimidated by people who seem holier for you, but it's like choosing the stairs over the elevator: healthy choices beget healthy souls.

This is the time you've been waiting for and it's the first step toward a great new world! Make these habits now!


Lianna said...

Great advice! I agree with all of it. Especially putting yourself into your work and getting involved in campus ministry. And the hours per day. Once you have a full-time job...You really have no free time!

Kevin said...

Awesome tips!! I love it. I'm proud of you!

"grounds", not campus ;)

Elizabeth Hillgrove said...

@Lianna - yes!! Exactly. And if we become parents, POOF, negative amounts of free time.

@Kev - I had to translate it for the greater public :)

Anonymous said...

These are so true. I regret spending much of classtime on facebook instead of really listening to what was going on. I miss college so much now!

Chase said...

Two more (wordy) cents...

* Go to the library. It's a good place to get work done and be exposed to other human beings. Plus, sometimes they have those tables with the whiteboards built in. And sometimes, the dork meets a librarian with whom he lives happily ever after (but don't make this a motivation--see next bullet).

* Don't obsess over soulmate searching. Sure, it's a sea of potentially compatible people your age. College is a big investment at the most intellectually fertile time in your life. The cost of dating slips away from people, but what you save by not, is that much less you have to take out in loans. Plus, if you spend that time concentrating on your career--doing research, building your brand, networking with student and local professional groups--someone's going to see your motivation and offer a job that (i) makes the solitary nights worth it, and (ii) gives you a stable base for settling down and looking to start a family.

Sam said...

Great post! No 6 made me think of Escriva's 'heroic minute' :) I so agree with the 'just do it' approach. We need to remember that we are tremendously lucky to receive an education. In some countries there are no resources; in others the universities have been closed to prevent young people from congregating. Choosing the lecture over the duvet also shows that we are taking responsibility for ourselves - all part of being an adult.

My advice would be:

*Take care of your health and eat well. Although it's tempting to skip meals or live off pizza, your mental and physical health will suffer. Feed your brain well and be smart and happy!

*Say YES as often as you can. Never again will you get so many opportunities - volunteering, tutoring, strange sports, not so strange sports - make the most of it. It will help you to meet people and build your confidence... and might teach you a thing or two about your direction in life.

*When you get an assignment, go get the books from the library straight away or they'll all be gone. Start work on it as soon as you can, so that if life throws something up you won't fall behind. If you have problems planning your workload, ask student support for study skills classes. Sometimes we need help learning how to learn!

*If you feel ill, or low, don't ignore it - go see a doctor. If your health starts to affect your work, let your tutors know so that they can be lenient. If that's too scary, ask student support to communicate with them on your behalf. They'll also know if there's any extra support or equipment to make things easier.

*You are a living tabernacle! Stay true to yourself. Act always with love and charity and be an example to others. And enjoy it :)

Leanne@lifehappenswhen said...

These are great tips, Elizabeth!

It has been over 7 years since I've been on a college campus as an undergrad and over 2 years since getting my Masters.

Can you believe that I didn't even have a cell phone until my sophomore year of college. And then, the plan was so limited I had to watch how often I used it. And texting? I didn't even know that existed!! :)

It drives me crazy when people are stuck to their phones. Even now that I have a smartphone, I'm not attached to it the way most people are. Real face time is looking at the person you are with and turning off the phone!! And texting in class? I can't imagine it!

Good luck at school. I love school! I sometimes wish I could be a permanent student!

Elizabeth Hillgrove said...

Thank you, all! :)

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