College can equally be one of the greatest and most stressful times of your life. Whether you’re new to the college scene or have been doing your best in university courses for a couple of years, you know that this time of the school year has everyone stressed out over midterms. Soon, finals will be here, which means you don’t get much of a break between studying for midterms and the end of the semester.
I know, I’ve been there.
I remember those times when all I wanted to do was sleep for the rest of my life and never walk into another classroom again. People would tell me I should enjoy this time of my life, but all I wanted to do was stress-eat my way through a bag of discounted Halloween candy and binge-watch my favorite TV shows. Since I’ve graduated, though, I’ve realized that those people were right.
Your years in college, no matter how long it takes you to walk across that stage and get your diploma, are truly something special. You don’t have the responsibilities you’ll deal with for the next few decades after you graduate, and you have a multitude of people ready to help you grow and find out who you’re meant to be. Even when you’re in your most stressed-out moments, instead of getting upset and considering dropping out, try thinking about some actionable ways you can grab ahold of your college experience and get the most out of it.
1. Focus on Scheduling
The reason professors give you a staggering amount of homework isn’t because they think it’s fun to grade all those assignments and papers. It’s because they’re trying to teach you how to learn time management. When I first got to college, I was that person who did all their work last minute so I could enjoy being with my friends and figuring out what the college experience was like.
Let me tell you, that’s no way to survive your next few years of school. Get on top of scheduling your homework out right away. Professors give out homework schedules at the beginning of the semester for a reason! If you know what nights you’re hitting the books, you’ll know when you’ll be free to hang out with friends. This will make your social life way less stressed than if you never looked at a calendar.
2. Treat Your Body Right
There’s a time and a place for everything, which means your weekend partying needs to be followed up with a time of nourishment for your body. Almost every college student wants to eat well, but I know that’s hard to do, and can be expensive. Cafeterias offer unlimited pizza and burgers, while the healthy food is either limp salad from the salad bar or pre-frozen mini-meals from campus convenience stores that cost way too much.
When it came to buying groceries, I was out of luck. I worked two extra jobs while taking classes, and I still somehow only ever had a collective $5 in my bank account. College is great, but it’s expensive. Don’t let that get you down, though. Try looking up A College Guide To Healthy Eating to help you get on your way to feeling better and looking better without sacrificing more money or time that you would have spent working on homework.
3. Take a Second Look at Your Finances
Do you know where your money is really going? If you don’t, you probably don’t even realize when you’re overspending on things you don’t need. Most importantly, your money should be going toward your bills and any debt you might have. Then it should cover the necessities, like food and gas, if you drive to class. After that it can be spent on fun things that make you happy.
Still not sure how to budget? Maybe first take a look at how much you’re currently paying for things. Sometimes all you need to do to have some extra cash is change up your lifestyle. One of the biggest bank breakers that I discovered when I did this was living on campus. That’s how I started my college years, and moving off campus turned out to be the best thing I ever did. On average, off-campus housing students save $2,238 more than on-campus students each year.
That’s a whole lot of extra ramen.
4. Don’t Forget to Put Classes First
You’re there to learn, so don’t forget that school comes first. For me, I got sidetracked when I started making new friends, going out more and participating in clubs. These things are great, and they’re what makes college fun, so they should be pursued in moderation. But I was having so much fun that my grades started to slide. You’re not paying a boatload of cash so you can hit the town every night. You enrolled because you wanted to earn that diploma, so always put school first. Your friends will be there later, and they may even appreciate the reminder that they should be in the library, too.
5. Take Lots of Pictures
One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t take more pictures and write down more memories while I was in school. After I graduated, I had a few big memories to look back on, but I wish I had charted my experiences. Social media makes this easier now, but don’t forget to export those pictures to your photo gallery, or even print them out and put them in storage somewhere. You’ll thank me later when you want to revisit your favorite memories from your first years at school.
College is stressful, especially this time of year when midterms feel like they’ve kicked your butt and all your professors can talk about is preparing for finals. Take hope in the fact that the stress won’t last forever, and try to enjoy every second that you have, because it ends so much faster than you think. Take it from me — hard work pays off, but don’t forget to enjoy the happy moments while they’re still happening.