Advise to College Freshmen

College is a terrifyingly alluring experience that I will never forget. The knowledge that you learn is something that actually applies to the real world! Completely unrelated topics somehow turn out to be unintentionally comparable. Spanish will have in common something with linguistics, and sociology will apply to your business courses. Even art classes will help you at some point in your future. There are many things I wish someone had told me to make my experiences easier and less complicated, however. I’m about to list them for you and give advice along the way.

1.) Do not listen to ‘ratemyprofessors’ to decide what class or section to take. Not always, but many times, these reviews are entirely too negative or positive to be accurate. Let me explain. One of my Iranian born professors who taught Economics was intentionally black-balled by a group of students who did not participate or study in class. I’m not saying these students were the quiet ones who never spoke (because that would be me). These were students who did not want to learn and were found (by other students and said professor) saying and I quote, “I will get her back on ‘ratemyprofessors’ for giving me a bad grade on the test”. Yes. Literally happened. They blamed her ethnicity and accent (which actually was easily understandable) on their failure. Racial slurs included. Another professor who jabbered on about his ex-girlfriend most of the semester had a great rating. I memorized the textbook that semester because our grades were determined by two tests entirely. That was honestly the worst class I ever took.

Rather, go to classes the first few days and drop a class if you decide you clash with the professor or dislike the course. Often you will get a feel for if a class is a good fit the first few days. If this means you sign up for six classes instead of four, so be it. You can drop two and have choices!

2.) Clubs are not an end all be all. I was told in high school to join clubs in order to get into college easier. I was told that colleges like to see plenty of extracurriculars. THIS IS FALSE. Even in college. Having extracurriculars does not make in any easier to place into a college or into a job after college. I worked part time through high school and college. Choosing money to fund my college tuition and my life after college was the best decision I made. Colleges just want to see a work ethic. So volunteer, attend paint classes, work part time, mow your neighbors lawn, etc. It won’t matter! Just put in effort in some way. Make yourself outshine the competition however you want. No school spirit needed.

3.) Do not get cocky. Some classes may seem like repeats of high school or you may think that classes will be easy. This is a common sense statement for the most part. However, just a reminder: If you get cocky and do not study you will likely fail or get a passing (but still sucky) score. Seriously. Don’t do it. Study. Even if a question is 2+2. These professors may expect 5 instead of 4. (Not really but you get my point).

4.) Your advisors may not always…be the best. At my university, we had to have academic counseling to pick our next semester classes for the first two years. My advisor, while well wishing, did not understand what was a great system of classes for me. I was a commuter and was honestly looking usually for classes that were back to back so I could go home or go to work straight after classes that day. He did not quite understand this. He also had a tendency to not answer emails even after I sent three in a row because he was working on his own writing and was very busy. When I finally got a meeting time scheduled, he often talked to me for fifteen minutes and had me more confused than when I came in. However, I worked out my own path towards graduation and made it out of school on time. You do not have to follow the ‘regular course’ that other students in your major follow. You can take things out of order and you can choose your own classes. Study your degree audit (or whatever paperwork has your total credits and what other credits are needed to be taken). You can usually select classes based on times, academic department, or even course load. Talk to any professor at your school, and I can guarantee you they will be able to show you how to do this if your advisor does not show you. Most professors are literate in almost every hoop that students have to jump through. Even fellow students will help you if you ask.

5.) Don’t party, or at least too much. I know I sound like a parent, but I’m going to state this plainly. I’m not saying this for ethical reasons. I’m saying this from experience with my college friends (not necessarily personal experience because well I don’t like parties or alcohol). Partying every once in a while is perfectly fine. For the love of God though, don’t spend every weekend or every few days partying it up. You will become stressed out if you party too much while holding down your college load. You will forget to do assignments, online quizzes, or group projects at some point. Especially if you have a job on top of school and your social life. On this topic don’t join to many groups. One or two is awesome and will help you meet friends or build networks. Too much stimulation to your mind will make it explode, however. Manage your time well and do not strain yourself too far.

6.) Network, network, network. I can’t say this enough. As you go through college, try to network with peers or professionals. This is the best way to break into any industry you wish to enter upon graduation. It is never too soon to begin. Many colleges have seminars and meetings on how best to network in general and in your major’s field in particular. ATTEND THESE if you are able to.

These are only a few things I wish someone had told me. Overall, don’t take college too seriously. You have four years to accomplish everything. As much as it may not seem like enough time, it will be. Mostly just remember: Have fun!

 

 

 

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The Reality

People like people that they can fit into a box. That box is not a tissue box, a jewelry box or McDonald’s fry box. That box is a label box.

People like people that they can label as country, preppy, political, fashionista, whore, prude, etc. They like people that they can categorize as something superficial. Something bland and unremarkable. The worst but most prominent label may be the label of stereotypes.

When people do not fit into a label, they tend to be treated as garbage. Maybe even worse than garbage. These outcasts are treated as the trash that flies out of a garbage can from a gust of wind, and therefore does not stay in a designated safe area from the rest of civilization.

These outcasts inhabit quite a few labels, and yet none at all. They inhabit labels not even thought of yet. These are the people that ply themselves to what they love and what they believe without a regard to what others may think or what others may do to them. They are not a label. They are not some person from a ghetto. They are not some high-society girl from the best side of town. They are not someone’s daughter or someone’s friend. They are unapologetically themselves because they believe and love themselves to the fullest extent.

Refusing to be what anyone wants them to be. Not limited to any one thing that others would have them be. To be irrevocably themselves and to revel in self-uniqueness is what I will always aspire to be. Acting out the truths they can feel in their hearts and see in their minds. Outcasts on the edge of society are my heroes. The ones not afraid to be exactly what they are deep in their souls. Absolute legends in a literal sense.

Don’t Ask Me- A Woman

Don’t ask me why I am beginning to drop my normally sweet demeanor and opt for a cold-faced unimpressed personality. Ask me what the effects are of people dismissing the facts I have said and asking for a male to speak to. Apparently for some men and women, you have to be ‘packing down south’ to be heard as credible. I am not generalizing. Not everyone is like this. The percentage of those who are like this have made enough of a dent in our society, however.

You have to talk like a traditional man to be respected. To gain any traction myself and others have had to change their entire personality in public and at school to be heard. It does not gain a person smiles. It gains an individual glares and hostility. The reality is though that people start to listen to you. Just by faking your personality. By talking differently. By lowering tones and changing how you say your sentences.

This is not just a few words from one angry female that can be put down as the words of some crazy feminist. I have been taught in a college class for my degree that generally masculine forms of communication are respected in a working environment while generally female forms are dismissed. Deferring to hear all opinions of coworkers and customers and using key words of understanding is considered weak in the eyes of the workforce. Using firm language and not waiting for other opinions is considered to be admirable.

So yes. Women will begin to act like men when speaking in a work or power environment. If you don’t like that and you choose to glare at them, remember that these women are doing exactly what you have done to them.

Self Realization 

Self realization is like a continuous drip that becomes a puddle. There’s nothing on the floor below a break on the roof. Then after time, suddenly, there is an inscermountable mass that’s brought to the forefront. You can’t deny it. You can’t wish it away. You are what you’ve become, for better or worse. There will never be any going back. And maybe you don’t wish to go back. Maybe you wish to stay where you have found yourself. Just another move down the path. 

Chessboards of Life

I’m not a game. You can’t just save your progress now and come back when you feel like it. You can’t evolve me to the next level when you get bored of where I am at currently. I don’t want to be a game. For anyone. 

You want my best qualities, but none of the worst. You want my smiles, but not my tears. I’m moody. I’m independent. I’m ambitious. I’m passionate. That is what makes me who I am. Take me or leave me. 

I’m full of love, so no, I do not need yours. Don’t forget that. I’m sure of myself because I know what I want: to be love. Not gain it from other people. I want to give love to others and to myself. 

I’m not a pon on a chessboard. I am the chessboard. I neither win or lose a game. I simply am. I don’t care if you are a friend, lover, or family member. If you want to win, then stop playing the game. 

Dreams

One of the best feelings in the world is the euphoria of knowing that the ones you love the most understand your dreams. Does this happen often? I don’t know.

It’s not that these people won’t be supportive. A lot are. However, sometimes it seems that you keep hitting a wall when people question why you sacrifice so much and think so decisively about your future.

My eyes have almost always been future focused. It has been when I glance back at the past behind me, or find myself settling for the present that I lose my identity. I forget what it is to be myself. My worst fear in life is losing my identity. The betrayal of forgetting myself is heart wrenching. Adversity is comfortable to me. Betrayal is not.

Sometimes I feel insane when people ask me what I am doing or why I am putting myself through this stress. I feel as if there is something fundamentally wrong with me and my structure of being is trembling around me. I know that I will never stop because I can never afford to.

I have to keep analyzing my future with pinched eyes because my dreams are such a big part of what makes me what I am. Even when people don’t understand where I’m coming from or insist that my reasoning is irrational. I sacrifice to make myself sure of who I am. To create my own happiness.

Keep dreaming.

What Are We Doing? 

What are we doing?

I sit in class and watch all the people. A girl puts on deodorant and mascara. She must have woken up late. A girl shops for athletic tanktop and sips on her smoothie. Others sleep, watch sports, or doodle in a notebook. And I watch. Take it in. Wondering what we are all doing?

I tune into the professor’s lecture, trying to teach what I consider common sense. Do others think this is common sense? Or is it just me? Is this why they tune out? Or is it because they don’t care?

There is this world around us, full of possibilities. We can be anything we want to be because we were lucky enough to be born in a first world country. And yet. We do nothing. We sit here. Texting. Yawning. Sleeping. Shopping.

Where is the adventure? The social activism? The familial love? The inspiration to do more and build ourselves? Prosper not through money or basic knowledge, but through spiritual growth?

Self Reliance

I don’t know when I started realizing that I had to depend primarily on myself. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of people whom I love and trust. They have their own lives though, and I can’t expect then to be my will power through the hard times. 

I used to have a friend who I thought was my friend-soulmate. We had so many shared interests, the same sarcastic humor, and hated ‘the man’ (a.k.a. the school staff who favored the partying and athletic kids). We were the outcasts of our high school and clung to each other through the worst times. Or what we thought were the worst times. We both had depression issues, mine were worse, and I had anxiety on top of it. This was due to serious medical issues from our pasts and bullying in my case. We healed each other and used each other as life rafts. For her help I will always be thankful. 

Eventually in my junior and senior years, I went through some…things. Sexual assault from someone I considered my best guy friend, a boyfriend who cheated on me when I didn’t give into his advances, and a very sick grandfather were only a few of the occurrences I dealt with. 

Through all of this I just needed support from my friend. At this point she didn’t want anything but fun and pushed me aside when I wasn’t ‘fun’ anymore. 

I had to pick myself up from the ground again. Of course my mother was there, but for the first time it was ultimately myself that had to push through it all. My mother couldn’t hold my hand through the anger, my friend wasn’t there for a shoulder to cry on, and I had to keep a rational mind in order to begin college. I had me, myself, and I. 

And I did it. I realized my love for writing and editing, and I made the decision to switch from a psychology major to English. I powered through the grief and focused on my classes. My security in my own strength and mind increased. Eventually I began to love myself like I had never before. 

I felt more accepting of myself and others because I know now that you never know what a person is going through. I remet myself and gained so much willpower and knowledge from what I went through. 

You have yourself through it all. Be kind to yourself. 

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