5 Tips for the First-Time (or Veteran) College Student

college-tipsCollege is likely the most dynamic time of your life.  Lots of people will have suggestions for how to manage it.  The best advice I can offer to you is to find the tips that work for you and discard the rest—there’s not a magic formula for being successful.

Having said that, here are five tips that are a bit atypical.  Everyone knows to work hard, go to class, get involved, etc., and while those pieces of advice are indeed helpful, these tips will help you make the most of your college experience.

Sleep.

College isn’t an endurance event—it’s your life for the next few years.  You have to keep doing all the things you’ve always done as a part of your normal life, including sleeping.  Try to sleep as much as you always have, even if it’s not all at once during the night.  Your body will slowly break down if you don’t get enough rest, and the resulting mental and physical fatigue will just make everything else harder.  Which leads to…

Do something, not everything.

UMHB offers numerous opportunities to get involved.  Don’t accept all of them.  Trying to do everything is just a frustrating and frenetic way to not really do anything.  Find the things that you really value, and invest deeply in them.  You’ll have more time for yourself, and you’ll find your involvement more enriching.

Screw up.

There’s a lot of research out recently suggesting that children who are shielded from opportunities to fail by their parents struggle to succeed as adults because they’ve never encountered adversity.  You’re going to screw up at some point in college—don’t hide from it, and don’t see it as a shortcoming.  Embrace it as a necessary step in discovering who you are.  Winston Churchill says, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”  Which leads me to…

Buoy yourself with evolving purpose.

Know why you’re here.  It’s not to get a degree, or to get a job, or to make friends.  Here is not college, or Belton, or UMHB.  Here is planet Earth.  Each setback or success you encounter shapes and is reflected by that purpose.  If you find yourself frustrated, place the frustration in the context of your purpose.  As long as your experiences contribute to your evolving purpose, nothing you do will be in vain.  Lastly…

Be a mentee.

Everyone needs a mentor, but few people ever volunteer to be one.  A mentoring relationship evolves from discovering shared interests.  You’ll find hundreds of doors with potential mentors behind them, but you must knock.  True story: I started my mentee relationship with my mentor by sending a snarky e-mail.  I thought I was just kidding around, and it started the most formative conversation of my professional life.  You don’t knock with your knuckles, you knock with your actions.  Be ready for the moments when mentors might answer.

Life beyond the classroom is full and rich at UMHB. Check out our Student Life department to discover ways to make your time in college the experience of lifetime!
Dr. Trent Terrell

Dr. Trent Terrell

I've been a part of UMHB's Psychology Department since 2008. My primary area of research is eyewitness memory and eyewitness identification.
Dr. Trent Terrell

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Dr. Trent Terrell

About Dr. Trent Terrell

I've been a part of UMHB's Psychology Department since 2008. My primary area of research is eyewitness memory and eyewitness identification.