There’s nothing quite like college: you’re young, there’s what seems like limitless opportunities, and the world is probably more open to you than it will ever be, or at least it seems that way. So why not take advantage of the moment, right? Right. Just make sure you don’t pick up any bad habits along the way:
- Putting off reading, or that paper, or studying for that exam. The nice thing about college is that you have a lot of academic freedom. Often your professor will assign a due date but won’t keep tabs on your progress, meaning it’s your responsibility to get your work done. On the other hand, that could also be one of the worst things about college, especially if you procrastinate. Procrastinating can result in all-night study or work binges, which aren’t fun, efficient, or good for your grade point average. In order to avoid being that person in the library with blood-red eyes and piles of empty coffee cups next to you, put the effort in to get your homework done as it’s assigned instead of when due dates are close.
- Pizza, chicken wings, Chinese takeout, oh my. There’s nothing wrong with ordering some of your favorite food once in a while, especially because you can order it directly to your door instead of having to walk all way to the dining hall. And hey, who doesn’t love a big greasy slice of pizza or two (or ten) once in a while? But if it becomes a regular habit, then not only will your body ask you to take it easy (hey, heart health), but your wallet will start to give you some lip.
- Let’s get wasted! Nah, let’s not. Especially if you’re underage. Not only could you get in trouble, heavy drinking takes its toll on your body, energy levels, and your ability to concentrate.
- Peace and quiet. That’s right, too much peace and quiet is a bad college habit. For real. Think about it: when will you be living so close to all your friends ever again? A little alone time once in a while is good. But sequestering yourself away in your room like it’s your very own Bat Cave? Bad. Get out there and socialize. Enjoy the college experience before it’s over.
- Sticking to the plan. Plans can be helpful. But sticking to them too closely can be too your detriment. College is a place where you should grow as both a student and a person. Push yourself in new ways, whether that means taking classes you never thought you’d take or by participating in an activity you never thought you’d enjoy, because chances are you will.
While public speaking can be uncomfortable or intimidating, it’s an essential skill, especially in college. Whether you have to speak in front of your class, at an academic conference, or at an important event, it’s always good to speak well. Here’s how:
1. Practice, practice, practice. And practice. Like wine, public speaking can be an acquired taste. In order to get used to the feeling of it, practice as much as you can. For example, if you have to give a presentation, practice in front of your mirror, or friends, or family. It might seem silly, but you’ll be glad you did once you’re not stumbling over your words in front of an actual crowd.
2. Find a pace that works. It’s natural to speed up your speech when you’re in front of an audience, which is why you should always tell yourself to slow down. Think about it: no one wants to listen to someone who’s talking too fast. At best it’s annoying. At worst it’s incomprehensible.
3. Learn from the best. You’re paying all that money to be at school, so take advantage of it. Since you already have to sit through class each day, why not try paying attention to how your professors give their lectures? Some professors are rock stars, and can make even the most boring material come to life, while others are as dull as a broken pencil. Either way, take note of what works and what doesn’t. Then imitate as necessary.
4. Make it a routine. If you want to do something well, then you have to do it every day. That’s how you fine-tune a craft. Practice by raising your hand in class to ask or answer questions. In other words: make use of the opportunity to get up and get talking in front of people.
5. Be honest about what you need to improve. Public speaking doesn’t have to be your thing, but it’s a skill you need. So ask for feedback whenever you have the chance. If you make mistakes during a speech or presentation, don’t sweat it. Just remember those mistakes and fix them next time.
If there’s one thing that all students want more of, it’s sleep. There are so many distractions on college campuses that it’s almost impossible to get consistent shuteye, but for your health (and also for your sanity) it’s important you do. In light of that, here are a few tips that may help you sleep better:
1. Get comfortable. It might seem like a lot of cash to dole out up front, but if you hook yourself up with a quality mattress pad an a couple of cozy pillows, every dime spent will be worth it. Remember: a comfortable night’s sleep is a good night’s sleep, and a good night’s sleep is priceless.
2. Ventilate. Dorms rooms can be a little stuffy or stale. To fix that problem, get yourself a portable fan to get the air moving. Besides, a little extra white noise probably won’t hurt either.
3. Avoid naps. If you want to make sure that you sleep better at night, then try not to sleep during the day. If you absolutely can’t function without napping, consider a twenty-minute power nap. Anything longer that may negatively affect your ability to fall asleep later.
4. Flex your muscles. Your creative ones, too. If you exercise during the day then your body will thank you when it’s time to hit the pillow. It’s also a good idea to exercise your mind. For example, try journaling a bit before sleep. Or even try reading something more academic.
5. Stay clean. Even if you’re not a super clean person, keeping a neat room isn’t a bad idea. Too much clutter will likely cause stress, meaning sleep won’t come as easy as you’d like.
6. Watch out for all-nighters. While it might be hard to avoid staying up late into the night-slash-early-morning writing a paper or studying for an exam, don’t make it a habit. Your body may become accustomed to staying up late. If that happens, you may find it hard to go to sleep at a reasonable hour when you actually need to.
7. Set patterns. Knowing when you’ll go to sleep and when you’ll wake up is one of the best (and medically proven) ways to stay rested. We know you can’t go to bed at the same time every day, but sticking as close to a schedule as you can will help zap some of your fatigue.
Going to college is one of the most expensive things you can do. So to make sure you get your money’s worth, periodically check in with yourself and ask: am I getting the kind of education I want? If not, consider transferring. Answering the following question will help you determine if it’s the right move for you:
1. Will it be an upgrade? Sometimes when students don’t get into their dream school, they’ll try again later in their college career. After all, you deserve to graduate with the degree you want to graduate with from the school you want to attend. However, make sure it’s worth the jump. If you’re concerned with academic reputation, for example, you should transfer to a school with exactly that.
2. Will you miss the past? If you’re prone to nostalgia, then you might want to think twice about transferring from the school you’re currently at, especially if you can’t stomach the thought of leaving friends, professors, and your campus behind. That being said, if you love new experiences and meeting new people, then why not? Dive in.
3. What’s most important to you? If you want a job in, say, the fashion industry, then you should probably get to a fashion hotspot, like New York. However, if you don’t go to school in New York, then it might be worth transferring while you’re still an undergraduate in order to get an internship while you still can.
4. Does it make academic sense? Before you transfer, figure out the fundamentals. Will the academic credits you’ve already taken also transfer? If not, then you might want to think twice about transferring, as you could be digging yourself into an academic hole. A very expensive one.
5. What’s your best financial bet? If you want to leave school with as little debt as possible, then you might want to consider transferring to a public state school, for example, which tend to have lower tuition. On the other hand, you might also want to transfer to a school that promises to meet your full financial need.
So you want to follow your passion and pursue the arts? More power to you. But know it will be a long, tough road, and likely when your friends and family ask, “What’s your major?” and you tell them painting, or pottery, or creative writing, or the flute, you’ll get a blank stare and a slow head nod. But don’t let that discourage you! You can receive a top-notch education in the arts at any of these schools:
1. Rhode Island School of Design. Also known as RISD, this fine arts powerhouse was founded in 1877 and has been churning out internationally renowned artists ever since. Located in Providence, Rhode Island, it’s also located near prestigious Brown University, and the two schools have a special partnership. For instance, RISD students share academic resources with Brown students, which only makes a RISD education extra strong.
2. Berklee College of Music. What do pop sensations like John Mayer and Gavin Degraw have in common? They both attended Berklee, located in Boston, MA. The school is also known for jazz, rock, composition, and more. If music is your thing, then take this into account: collectively, alumni of Berklee have gone on to win 229 Grammy awards. While music is a hard field to break into, if you’re set on pursuing it as a lifestyle, then this just might be the school for you.
3. School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recently, Columbia University conducted a survey by polling America’s most influential art critics, deeming the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) the “most influential art school.” Home to countless art galleries and an expansive faculty, SAIC stays on the leading edge of the art world by offering classes in technology, design, performance, and much more.
4. University of California, Los Angeles. A fact to consider: of current alumni at this west coast school, 120 are currently proud members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Not a straight-up art school, the University of California might be a good option for those who don’t want to spread themselves to thin by attending a specialized institution. Respected especially for their fine arts curriculum, the school is also located in, well, Los Angeles, meaning students have access to one of the nation’s most vibrant, active and cultural cities.
5. New York University. If you’re a thespian, then New York University is your place. Home to the famous Tisch School of the Arts, the school’s theatre program is basically unmatched. Whether you’re into musicals, straight shows, or experimental theatre, you’ve got to love an NYU education. Also, when attending NYU, you’re in New York, meaning you can head on over to Broadway any time.