I'm sure those of you who are preparing for college next year are facing down a range of emotions: fear, anxiety, excitement. As an introvert, the process of integration was somewhat more difficult for me. But this spring I'll be graduating with a fond set of memories from my adventures at university, so here are a few tips to make the best of your university experience.
Join clubs. Try new things. University is a time to step outside your comfort zone (especially if you're a shy introvert like me!) Try campus activities, and try out all the clubs you're interested in. Don't expect to feel at home right away; it may take some time, even weeks, to get to know people. But don't be discouraged—some of these people will end up being your best friends!
If something isn't working out...don't be afraid to quit. On the other hand, remember that you'll be trying a lot of different things, and it's okay not to like them all. I was convinced I'd love the Film, Knitting, and Cycling clubs at my university—but these never worked out for me because they weren't quite what I was looking for. Nevertheless, I finally found my place in the Creative Writing Club. My rule of thumb is to give it at least three tries—that is, attend at least three meetings or events. If you still feel that the activity is not for you, then you can feel reassured that you tried. You have to expose yourself to different groups to find the perfect match, but remember that it's alright to drop something if you're not enjoying it!
Establish a sleep schedule. Nothing is worse than waking up for a 9am lecture after working on your class project until 2am in the morning. A healthy sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time) is highly underrated. Feeling fresh when you wake up is the best way to start a day of classes!
Establish a work routine. On a similar note, don't expect to produce quality work on a project you've started at midnight that's due that same morning. While everyone has different internal clocks and times when they work best, it's important to create a routine and set aside time for work. Similarly, keep ahead of deadlines—this will make your life infinitely easier and your university experience far more enjoyable. Start your essays and studying early on. Preparation such as note-taking, looking at the prompts beforehand, thinking actively about these subjects in your classes, etc. can all help propel you forward in the process.
Libraries and Cafés are your friends! For many students, it's much easier to work outside your area of residence—it puts your mind into "concentration mode." When you get back home, you can breathe a sigh of relief because your work for the day is done. Take advantage of getting outside the dorm room and perhaps drag a friend along as a study buddy.
Find a healthy work/life balance. This, of course, is easier said than done. If you're working a job, attending classes, participating in activities, going to the gym, etc., it can all become a little overwhelming. Be sure to take breaks if you absolutely need them—even if it means skipping gym day, practice, or that one class (just don't do this too often!) The point here is not to throw your energy all into one thing, whether that be socializing or classwork.
When all is said and done…enjoy it! But also remember that there will be tough times, and that everyone struggles at points—you're never alone in this battle. University can be challenging and lonely for many students; if you're struggling, reach out to college programs and ask for help or guidance (there are always mental health services of some kind). However, with a positive outlook and some tips to help you along, I hope you have wonderful, enlightening time in your next big adventure!
Edited by Emelyn Ehrlich