The College Diaries: My First Semester in Review

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Hi guys, and happy 2017! Jessica here. Now that the new year is here, I can officially say that my fall semester of college has come to a close. Looking back on it, there's a lot of stuff I learned, and I figured that there's no other place to share my knowledge than another installment of The College Diaries. 

Now that my first semester has come to a close, there's a lot I've learned. I've decided to adapt my list that I wrote for Odyssey and share some important bits from it here. So without further ado, here goes!

1. This is nothing like high school.
Professors don't care if you show up to class or not, or if you did the assigned reading. They won't come around and stamp your homework with a smiley face and check off that you completed it. Nobody is babying you here. The workload is also worlds different -- instead of that occasional two-page paper due in two weeks that used to be a living nightmare in high school, you now have to complete 4 6-paged papers in one night.

2. Believe it or not, you will make friends.
I didn't think I was going to at first, being that I'm so shy. However, I'm happy to report that I was horribly wrong, and I have a handful of good friends.

3. Do the things that aren't mandatory -- you'll thank yourself in the long run.
The reading may not be required, but it can be that extra source you get to use for a paper. Going to see a speaker for an hour instead of watching Netflix can get you extra credit in the class. Remember those "optional' assignments that nobody ever did in high school? Yeah, do them now. Extra credit never hurts.

4. You will never run out of things to do!
Especially because I go to school in New York City, I'm never bored. At my school alone, there are always sports games, movie nights, club meetings, bake sales and fundraisers. There's never nothing going on. And if I don't like the selection of activities on campus, it takes me fifteen minutes to head to the capital of the world, where I am surrounded with things to do. Just the other day, I managed to meet my boyfriend for lunch and to go a museum and walk around the city -- and that was all before I went back to campus for class!

5. Even though you're adjusting to your new life, always make time for those you love back home.
I Skype my boyfriend every night, even if just for ten minutes, to tell him about my day. I text my parents and Snapchat my best friends from home. Even though I'm adjusting to my life here, those people are always going to be the ones that mean the most to me, and I've learned that it's important to give them some time and attention out of your day, however small it may seem. It's therapeutic and very, very important.

6. Random weekend trips home aren't a sign of weakness.
At first, I thought I was weak for wanting to go home for a weekend to see everyone. I figured I was supposed to be loving college so much that I never wanted to go home. However, I've learned that isn't the case -- going home every now and then is good for the soul, and it helps you refresh, recharge, and get ready to go back and tackle college once again.

7. Clean your room!
I'm going to keep this one brief -- my floors are really, really dusty, and that's because I never realized my mom would come through my room at home with a Swiffer once or twice a week. I've learned that now. And I don't wear dark-colored socks in here anymore.

8. Yeah, you may have been just fine getting up at 7:00 a.m. in high school, but that won't make 8:30 classes any less of a nightmare now.
Honestly, how did I even function in high school?

9. Nothing tastes better than a home-cooked meal.
Our dining hall food may not be awful, but nothing beats my mom's homemade pasta or chicken soup.

10. All-nighters will be more common than a good night's sleep.
I've seen the sunrise while writing papers more times than I could count, unfortunately. I've seen the insides of my eyelids much, much less.

11. Yes, free things really are everywhere in college.
Tee shirts, food, phone chargers, swag, you name it -- not only to clubs and school-sponsored things give stuff away, but many major companies that visit campus throw free swag at students, too. It's a total marketing tactic, but it works like a charm.

12. Spontaneity is key.
Planning is important, but if you get that random call from your friend telling you she scored an extra ticket to Aladdin and the show starts in half an hour, you better be prepared to throw on the nearest sweatshirt and grab your wallet and go.

13. You will write more papers in one night than you ever thought possible.
I remember when I thought writing two 2-page essays in one week was a week from hell. Those were the days.

14. You will also procrastinate more papers in one night than you ever thought possible.

15. You won't have nearly as much free time as you think you will.
I figured, having only two or three classes each day, I'd be so bored in college. However, that wasn't the case -- I barely have time to sleep anymore, between classes, homework, studying, club meetings, dorm building activities, and adventures into the city!

16. That being said, you also won't have nearly as much time to head to the gym as you may have originally promised yourself.
Pretty much.

17. Making friends with your hallmates is one of the best decisions you could make.
Having friends from around campus is definitely important, but so is being able to wander into the room next to you and sit down on their rug and just talk about nonsense for hours while procrastinating homework. Those are the people you see the most, at all hours of the day and night, in the shower stalls next to you, and the sinks in the morning. Make friends with them.

18. You don't have to be the person you were in high school.
In high school, I got involved in every activity imaginable as long as it fit into my schedule. I figured I had to keep up that charade here, too, until I realized something -- nobody here knows me, and I can do whatever I want. So I've limited my extracurriculars to a few clubs so I could focus on studying and schoolwork, and have a lot more free time.

19. Classes are actually a lot easier to pass than they were in high school.
In high school, if you got all 80's on tests and your average in class came out to be a 99, your teacher would be questioned for bad math. It's not like that in college -- you can do subpar on tests and exams, but if you show your professor that you're putting your best effort into participating and learning in class, it's totally plausible that they'll pass you.

20. You set the pace for your own life now.

Nobody's holding your hand anymore. You can apply for internships, or jobs, or not. You could start your resume now, or two years from now. You can travel, and you can learn what you want. and you can be independent. It's such a freeing feeling.

So, that's all I have to say today, and that's my take on my first semester of college. Comment your own thoughts down below!

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