Reality Check: Tips to Help You Adjust to Fall Semester at College

College life is often plagued with many misconceptions as to what even a single day may entail. While we may attend college with the intent of receiving our degrees, which may act as a gateway to our respective career fields, a lot of what is learned in college isn’t academic at all. A lot of teens become rather independent in their final year of high school, but that is by no stretch the same as being entirely on your own. The reality of managing your own schedule, your own meals, and your own social hours can be intoxicatingly freeing or horrifically daunting. 

For a lot of people, this can lead them to failing their very first semester of classes, and dissuade them continuing to pursue their studies. For those of us returning for another school term however, what have we done so differently? 

As I stated above, college teaches you a lot of things that aren’t academic in nature at all. The most obvious and quickly developing skill among us is time management. When scheduling your own classes day by day, you essentially have to create a daily simulation in your mind. You have time to wake up and get ready, get to class, eat, study, attend on campus events, and any other things you may want to do or make time to do. It is very easy to not give yourself time to be a person, and that can be a serious mistake. Always make time to do something you love, and keep your mental state stable. 

Nutrition is another common college issue. Contrary to popular belief, we try to stay away from the instant ramen noodles as much as possible, that said we do ingest quite a lot of carbs. Remembering not only to eat a balanced meal, but to exercise as well, can be rather challenging to manage and commit to. Finally there is the bane of all college students’ lives: social interaction. College is an amazing place to meet new people and have an amazing time anytime. That can be a very powerful distraction. Remembering that you are a student first and a party animal second can really help avoid any problems in this department. 

Being on your own can also lead to a lot of emotional stress, which when coupled with academic struggle can lead to some pretty serious problems. It’s important to understand that things will not always be perfect by any means, and it is okay to simply not be okay. This isn’t a very common idea, especially among our young males of color. The idea of being strong and macho at all times has permeated our culture, and it is the culprit behind plenty of silent suffering done behind closed doors. Talk to your friends and family about what’s going on in your life. If things become too big an issue for you to deal with, most colleges have counselors who are there just for you to talk to in times like this. They are a very valuable resource that should be used as necessary. The most common trait of a college student would definitely be our ridiculous tenacity. I don’t know a single student here at Cal Poly who hasn’t pulled an all nighter to meet a deadline or prepare for an exam. And while we’re exhausted from our sleepless nights, we still go to class and we still joke and laugh with one another. We love going to school together through the good and the bad, so here’s to another semester of learning. Good luck to all those freshmen who are in the middle of their first semester of college, you’ve got this!

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Matthew Meadors

Matthew Meadors

Matthew Meadors is a second year psychology major at Cal Poly Pomona. He attended Westchester Secondary Charter School for his freshman through junior years of high school. He then went on to attend USC Hybrid High School for his senior year. Matthew’s father made sure he found quality public schools for his children, and it resulted in them attending charter schools since kindergarten.

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