I have seen several parents on my social media timeline congratulating their lads for being admitted into several colleges and universities in Malawi. For some it is not the first time, while for some its their first child to go to college. One thing is certain, for most of the lads, its the first time they will be far from home in a whole new environment from when they were in secondary school.
I had that time for 3 years. I was a freshman in college for 3 years in, 3 colleges, 3 cities and I have some experience being in your position or kid's position.
Most of these lads will not see this, but if your sibling is going to college and you happen to see this post, share it with them because they will need it.
So lets go straight into the real things,
1. You'll never regret staying in to study. There are probably 12 parties you could go to every weekend, and you really only get one shot at each test. Not to sound like a mom (I'm about to sound like a mom) but the grades you make freshman year are the most important ones. Your friends might give you a hard time and yes, going to a party or whatever is more fun than staying in with a stack of textbooks and highlighters, but you'll feel so much better later. Trust me. When you do not have to hide that results paper from your friends, its a refreshing feeling.
2. Don't be scared to approach people and make friends. Everyone is in the same weird position of knowing pretty much no one. Even if you're one of the lucky few who went to school with all of their high school BFFS, you're going to want to expand your social circle at least a little bit. Otherwise ... what's the point of going to college? If someone seems interesting or cool or whatever, just say hi! Try it. Most people will not spit on you or bite your arm off if you're friendly.
3. But you should also do things alone and spend a lot of time by yourself. It's easier to make friends in college than maybe any other time of your life but don't let all four (or five or seven) years go by without spending any serious quality time with yourself. Freshman year is especially crucial when it comes to #self #development. It's the first time you're really living away from home (probably) and will end up being one of the most important years of college. Spend some time soaking up all the newness by yourself.
4. It sounds insane but really do sit in the front few rows in each class. (I never did this until 3rd year! I regret it). There's something about knowing the professor can see you that makes you pay serious attention, which is great if you care at all about your grades. Sitting in the back also makes it seem so easy to slip out early or just not show up at all. Also, your professors can tell when you're interested in their class and most take it personally. Ask questions! Look alive! Be engaged! It'll seriously help your grades in the end.
5.. Get to know your professors: This may sound cliche, but, it pays off! Recently, I was struggling with an assignment 3 years after college and I called one of my former professor’s office. He really understood my dilemma and even gave me his time to work on the project with me. I highly recommend talking to professors if you need guidance. Even just putting in extra effort in class, such as participating more or sitting near the front will help. A little effort goes a long way with professors here!
6. You might think you know how to study but you actually have no idea how to study. Memorizing facts from a little textbook filled with size-16 font is not the same as developing complex understandings of insane theories you've never even heard of. College tests count for so much more of your grade so there's added pressure. And also they're just harder. You'll soon realize all your studying techniques are garbage but that's OK because you'll develop new ones.
7. The campus is what you make of it: I know, Saint Vincent is not always the most exciting campus, but if you do not try to have fun, you never will! Besides getting involved, there’s many things you can do with friends to have fun, destress, and relax. Personally, I enjoy going to mass on Sundays. The 9:30 P.M. mass in the student chapel is the best way to unwind after a long and stressful week.
8. Stress will become a personality trait: College and stress are synonymous! It is okay to be concerned with grades, homework, and exams, but do not let your stress bring you down! I wish I would have realized that stress is natural, but stress does not need to be overwhelming. Balance is key. Sometimes a call home or a conversation with a friend is all you need.
9. You will take more naps than you ever have before: And that is okay. Since you’ll be studying more, socializing more, and going out more, you might not sleep as much at night. Naps are both therapeutic in nature and refreshing as well. No shame in the nap game.
10. You will miss your parents: When I first came to college, I immediately missed my mom. Who would do my laundry and make amazing meals for me now? I was forced to be more independent, which is a good thing. But even now, as a junior, I still have many days where I just wish I was in the presence of my parents. Just remember, they are only a phone call away!
11. Take advantage of campus resources.
You are paying for them after all. The gym, writing centers, career centers, and many other resources are on campus for you to use! Academic resources especially are placed on campus to help you succeed. If your campus, like mine, has a writing center, go and get a second pair of eyes to look over your paper. Career centers have people who are there to build or revise résumés or even help you figure out what you want your future career to be. Same goes for job fairs. If your school has a counseling center and you feel the need to go and talk to someone, that's what they are there for! Please don't think it is weird to simply want or need to talk something out with a non-biased, third party, if it can potentially help, then it's worth it.The gym is another great resource to use, not only for getting in shape to prevent the "Freshman 15," but also is great to relieve stress.
12. Get involved:
Sitting in your dorm or pod all day is an easy habit to fall into, especially during the colder months. But, seasonal depression is real, and one of the best ways to avoid it is by participating in clubs and activities, as well as surrounding yourself with friendly faces. That made my time in college and helped me find my way after college.
Learn how to manage your time.
The easiest way to do so? Get a planner! Write down important events, due dates, and other things that may slip your mind. In college, you are ultimately responsible for your time. You can spend it however you chose to but do so wisely. Professors aren't going to always be right by your side reminding you when your papers or quizzes are due; it is up to you to remember. On top of being aware of academic due dates, be sure to schedule in some time for yourself too.
Dennis Imaan is a Global Citizen born and currently staying in Malawi. He loves to share his experiences and lessons with others. Travel, Tourism, Innovations, Media and Youth development are close to his heart.