How To…. Actually Graduate

I have been in college….a long time. My college career has been a long and arduous seven years and I am so ready to be graduated. I feel like the day will never come. I am (finally) graduating though so I am going to share some of the secrets that I have learned along the way.

1. Talk in all of your classes.

This is college. You’re an adult now. Grab your lady balls and man balls and make sure you pack them in your backpack. Many students regardless of their age refuse to talk during class. They do not answer questions, they do not ask questions, they do not partake in discussions.

Listen. I’ve already made a good impression on my professors. Now is your time to shine. Many times I have been in class and the silence has been so painfully awkward but I don’t want to look like the kiss ass in here that did the homework. So be smart with me. Let’s all do the reading and be smart, brown nosers together. I know that talking in front of everyone, especially when you are learning the material, can be terrifying, but do it anyways. Never feel embarrassed to say the wrong thing; do not be scared, do not be embarrassed, speak your mind.

2. Talk to your professors, utilize office hours and advisors.

Professors really do make or break the class. Some professors are dicks and others are amazing. If you get a bad grade, do not get angry and instantly blame the professor – think about what you did, how hard you worked. If you did not work as hard as you could have, then you deserve the shitty grade – own it, do not blame others for it; but if you actually worked hard and thought you deserve a different grade, then talk to your professor about it. For the most part, most professors are more than willing and happy to help the students that ask for help and show them that they are able to put forth the effort. You pay to have them teach you and they are there to help you and to try to make your life and education easier; some can suck but when you find a good one they are amazing.

3. Do not drop a course without telling anyone.

You are capable of passing any class that you want to or have to take. Conflicts with work, family/health issues, or life can get in the way, but dropping a difficult course without talking to professor is a mistake. Ask your professor about the future workload, tips for helping you study the material more effectively, tips for helping you write better, and resources in general. If you really, truly feel like you need to drop a class, make sure you drop it so you can get your 100% refund and so you get a “withdrawal” and not an “incomplete” – it is not worth it in the end if it will reflect negatively on your GPA.

4. Do not take a major that does not suit you; Start job searching before your senior year.

Do not simply take a “practical” major. Do not live with the assumption that your choices are limited. You likely will have many jobs throughout your life. Show how smart and capable you are by building a great GPA in a topic where you are passionate. Talk to alumni about what they have done with their majors; alumni, professors, other faculty and staff, and students with internships are a fabulous resource for you to utilize. The information can be surprising. Find where you can be successful in your courses. Constantly thinking about what you may want to do in the future is always a good practice. Start intensely researching job opportunities your junior year – you need to make sure that you know what you are interested in and would want to do for the rest of your life. Get out there and conquer the world, cupcake.

5. Do not cut class, over procrastinate, or spend too much time on social media, watching Netflix, and playing video games.

College offers many new opportunities and experiences that were not available before. Don’t fuck it up. Everybody procrastinates, that’s fine. Everybody needs some time to relax so they don’t go insane while studying and writing papers, that’s cool. But procrastinating too much will only lead to your demise in the end. Muscle up, buttercup. Let’s get moving.

6. Do not overload yourself and take on too much.

As corny as it sounds, and as often as it’s said, balance is the key to everything. You need to take your classes and studying, work, personal life, and social life all in stride. It is okay to say “no” to things. Tell them fuckers, “No. No, thank you. I have to get my life together.” Then get your life together, do all of the shit you have to, and then have fun.

7. Talk to all of your professors and/or advisors.

Your professors are there to help you. Some professors suck and are egotistical masochists who love nothing more than to put their students through all of the pain and torture that their professors put them through. But you know what? Fuck ‘em. You learn what they can teach you, you study more and learn things that they don’t teach you, and you do amazing work in spite of them. Remember how in Howl’s Moving Castle Sophie is still a genuine, nice human being who goes out of her way to be kind to others and help them? How Sophie literally gives all she has to help others even though she isn’t getting the same consideration from others and was cursed by the Witch of the Waste? Be like that. Wait – you don’t watch Miyazaki films? Well….you should. Immediately. I’ll wait. But a different example would be Harry Potter: he aspired to greatness with the help of many friends and mentors [your amazing professors] and in spite of Voldemort (that’s right, I’ll say the douchebag’s name) [your atrocious professors]. Make it happen. Be amazing.

8. Do not hide in your dorm, apartment, or your house all of the time.

Take it from an introvert. I completely understand the importance of alone time and down time where you can be alone, do whatever you want, and not worry at all what other people are doing or thinking and expecting you to do. Alone time is good, and extremely important for many people to stay sane, but human interaction is also important. Go out there and be a lovely social creature sometimes, my little butterfly. Puppy. Rhino. Elephant. Social being of your choosing. Do you and be proud.

9. Do not pull frequent all-nighters, overindulge in unhealthy food, and party too hard/often.

Sometimes all-nighters are necessary – you have to finish a paper or a project before your class the next day or cram for an exam – these are not the best way to study, but are sometimes required. Pulling an all-nighter cramming session before an exam is the worst way to study – you will be tired while studying, while taking the test, and you make yourself lose the benefits of REM sleep. Your body needs the time when you sleep to process the information that you’ve learned that day and to file it away for later recall. For this reason, studying before bed is often the best time to study, as long as it is within your normal waking hours. Getting plenty of sleep and eating a good breakfast is the best way to get ready for an exam. Sometimes you pull an all-nighter for much more fun reasons, but don’t do it too often; you do need sleep so make sure you get it. Eating unhealthy foods is delicious and good for the soul, just make sure it’s not too often so it ends up being bad for the body. Same with alcohol. Drink lots of water. Throw in a salad every now and then. Have one of those green juices or smoothies every now and then for get more vitamins and minerals and shit. Have a wheatgrass shot if you’re feeling adventurous. Go ahead and do the shit you make fun of. It’s good to get out of your routine every now and then.

10. Do not solely live off of credit cards and/or loans.

Sometimes you have no other option but to use your loan money for random living expenses – it happens. But make sure that you are not living outside of your means. It is terrifyingly normal for students to accrue mass debt throughout their college years and a little after, but do everything you can to use the least amount of loan money possible. Trying to pay off your debt is like being Sisyphus and rolling an immense boulder uphill every goddamned day only to watch it roll back downhill and have to do it all over again. Try to have as little debt as possible throughout your entire life.

Many newcomers, youngsters, shy people, and uncertain and modest people frequently make the mistake of staying silent. Ask questions, speak your mind, have conversations with strangers and classmates and friends and professors and your family. Here’s a bonus tip: keep in touch and do things with your family no matter what. Having a family who loves you and who you can spend time with is an amazing thing that nobody should take for granted. And don’t forget to balance everything — the key to life is moderation and balance.

Be free my little bugs! Go and have an adventure, conquer the world, and make a difference.

– Brittney Diesbourg

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