From a Senior

We all have those moments we would've done differently if we'd only known better.

Maybe the weather wasn’t quite what you were expecting it to be, and you left your umbrella behind during a monsoon. Or there was a detail you missed on that rubric for an assignment. Or maybe you just missed the assignment altogether.

Learning from our mistakes can be very educational, but the school of hard knocks doesn’t have required attendance.

Take it from a pro, you don't always have to learn from your own mistakes. Especially as a college student. The bottom line is, we simply don't have the time to make every mistake while we’re here.

Below is a list of what I’ve learned (or learned from others) since coming to PCC. I hope it helps you in your own journey here at college!

1.) Drink water regularly.

Florida gets hot here during both semesters, and the sun doesn’t play. Walking between buildings for classes and meals can cause you to lose more water than you’re used to at home–especially if you’re from a cooler climate.

The cumulative effect? Dehydration. Unpleasant headaches. Even nausea.

To help with this, try a small sealable water bottle from Walmart! It makes staying hydrated easier when you’re just too rushed to hit the water fountains between classes.

2.) Keep your exam permit on your person.

During my first midterm week, a double-major sophomore told me to always keep my exam permit on my person. Specifically in a wallet, or something similar.

Well, I’ve done this religiously for four years now, and I haven’t lost my permit yet!

If you’re the kind of person who misplaces things, this could save your life during exams—or at least save you a run to-and-from the dorm in those few panicked minutes before an exam.

3.) Beware the “Freshman 15.”

Just because you can get four cookies from Line 7 every time you eat at Four Winds, doesn’t mean you should.

The sudden freedom of selecting anything from a buffet-style cafeteria can lead to weight gain, often dubbed as the “Freshman 15.”

Moderate your food choices with fruit and salads (and finding a time in your schedule for exercise). Your energy levels will thank you, too!

4.) Get enough sleep.

While you can, try to keep up with 7–8 hours of sleep a night. It'll help with how you feel and how your grades look. Trust me when I say that naps won’t make up for an all-nighter. A lot of us upperclassmen stay up late to get stuff done. But ultimately, getting plenty of sleep makes every day go by SO much better.

5.) Have back-ups for your back-ups!

Keep a USB dedicated to holding back-ups of your papers and projects! If you're worried that the USB would die, send papers or files to yourself in your school e-mail and make a folder for those e-mails.

Over my time here, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories. You've probably heard them too–someone’s computer legitimately dies right before a big paper or project's due, leaving them without said paper or project. If that had happened to me, I don’t know what I would’ve done.

BONUS: Keep copies all of your papers and projects from your classes! You never know
when you could use it again.

6.) Follow your Plan of Study.

Sometimes you might look at your Plan of Study and see a few classes you could switch around to make a semester easier. Unless you’re just moving around electives or squeezing in classes for your minor, I advise against this.

Your Plan of Study was designed the way it was for a reason. So doing your classes in that order helps you to graduate as soon as possible.

Very rarely do I hear of someone who's rearranged his class order and not ruined something in his schedule. Don’t risk having to stay an extra semester!

7.) Buy a compact umbrella.

Compact umbrellas are easy to leave in your bag when you aren’t sure what the weather's doing. When it does rain, there’s nothing stopping you from just putting the compact umbrella in your school bag.

If you want to keep your books dry (which is understandable and respectable), try storing it in a Walmart bag in your school bag.

As a bonus, it won't go missing with all the other umbrellas in the racks. I had a friend who seemed to lose an umbrella at least once a semester until he switched to using a raincoat or compact umbrella for rainy days.

8.) Inventory your school supplies.

Keep up with your 3x5 card supply in your bag, and leave a pencil or two in your bag at all times.

You'll always need these essentials for quizzes and tests. Don’t be that guy that has to ask for one for every HI 101 quiz.

9.) Set attainable goals.

Break down assignments into small steps that you can complete easily each day.

Assignments can be overwhelming when looking at all the things that need to be done to complete them. But don’t expect to get one huge project done in a single day or in one weekend. Give yourself time to complete it and complete it well.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t—you’re right.” –Henry Ford

I had two research papers in the same semester my freshman year, and they stressed me out something terrible. But I got them both done about a week before their due dates. How? I broke it down and did a certain amount of work towards each paper each day, as the parts of the paper were due. (Back then, we had to worry about turning in a certain number of bibliography cards and note cards.)

Any job (or assignment) worth doing is worth doing well.

10.) Evaluate your personal growth.

Evaluate what you allow to influence you, and who you choose to spend time with.

Yes, you’re at college to study, get those grades and graduate with a degree. Those are very important things. But college is also a time of your life that means so much to your personal growth.

What you allow to influence you matters exponentially. The typical college-aged person (17–23) is still maturing as a human being. You’re developing and becoming the person you'll be for the rest of your life.

Don't forget to pay attention, and track your growth along the way!

11. Get involved where you can.

Be in a Christian service. Be active in your collegian. Be an influence in your prayer group, class meetings, and Student Body. Give God your time in personal devotions and prayer. Talk to people.

Be a student, but take advantage of the experiences you're offered while at college. What you do now will help you later on.

In a world full of followers, dare to be a leader. –anonymous

As college students, we've got enough to deal with on our own. So don't just learn all the how-to's and college-life hacks the hard way. Seek advice. Ask around. Don’t be afraid to reach out and see what other students who've been-there-done-that would've done differently in their own college experience!

What about you? Have a tip that other students could use? Put it below in the comments. It could save someone a struggle-bus trip.

The thoughts and opinions expressed in Life in the Nest are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pensacola Christian College.
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