What I Learned From My Semester Home
College Life |  Source: @Sit

What I Learned From My Semester Home

Few people care. The rest are just curious.

1. Social media is the enemy.
When I first arrived home, I'd religiously scroll through all the drunk Snapchat stories at parties and the bars every Thursday through Saturday night. I found myself missing those wild adventures as I laid in bed about to fall asleep.

The FOMO was real. However, I reminded myself that only a few weeks ago I'd been doing that exact same thing and yet still felt miserable, so it was easy to snap back to reality.

2. I had many acquaintances, but select people I consider real friends.
I realized once I got home that although I knew hundreds of people from school, there were only about three I cared to keep in contact with. I may have had friendly conversations with the guy in my British Lit class and borrowed clothes with the girls who lived in the dorm next door, but none of these interactions provided me with any evidence that any of these people were worth staying in touch with.

3. Few people care; the rest are just curious.
Adding onto my second point, when news of my absence first broke, my phone was inundated with texts inquiring about where I was, along with my friends at school informing me of the ridiculous amount of people who'd asked about me. All I can really do is laugh.

None of these people give a damn about how I'm doing. They just want to feel "in the know." I owe absolutely no one any explanation as to why I left school and it's their prerogative if they wish fabricate stories however they please.

4. My parents aren't so bad after all.
I didn't expect to bond with my old folks so much, but nonetheless I'm grateful we did. Most of my friends are away at school, so my parents willingly filled the void-- I accompanied them on their Saturday night dinners, went to see movies, went shopping, and did all kinds of fun activities.

I confided in them about relationships, my social life, and career goals, and they were surprisingly non-judgmental. Granted, they didn't completely abandon their roles as disciplinarians, but it was refreshing for both of us to get to know each other in a different light.

5. My unhappiness wasn't me; it was a product of the school.
I came home in a state of complete confusion and unease and prayed time away would allow to discover clarity in myself. It did.

My time home enabled me to pinpoint specific reasons as to why I'd been perpetually unhappy, and essentially every one of them involved some aspect of the school itself. It became startlingly obvious that if I wanted to get myself back on track, I needed to begin in a completely and incomparably different environment.

6. There is no rush to finish.
At first I was concerned my decision to take a semester off would force me to graduate later, but then I realized... who the hell cares if it does?

There is absolutely no rush to begin life in the *real* world, and in the scheme of things, it's pretty insignificant whether or not you graduate with your friends. It's not your high school graduation.

7. It's never too late to start over.
Following point number six, whether you took a semester off to transfer schools or to evaluate what exact vision you see for your life, it's never too late to abruptly alter your course of action. A semester home will provide you with a different perspective on your life that you may not have had back at school and could lead to some game changing epiphanies.

Don't fight it. Switch schools if you have to. Major in a field you never expected to intrigue you. Whatever it is, listen to both your head and heart and then run with it. It's your life and only you can decide its outcome.

Image Alt
College Life |  Source: knowyourmeme.com

What I've Learned From Failing A Midterm

Read this before you have to learn the hard way.

As a first semester college student, I've had a lot of "firsts." Sadly, one of those "firsts" was failing a midterm. It was horrifying. I studied for hours, re-watched lectures, watched crash courses (shoutout to high school history), and took intense notes during lectures.

I was told all throughout high school that if you dedicate your time to college, it will be a breeze. College is not a breeze.

It doesn't matter how much time you dedicate to your classes or whether you write or type your notes just because you've been told that handwriting notes is better for memorization than typing. The key is how you manage your time with each class.

What I thought: The key to lectures is writing down notes as fast as you can not worrying about how sloppy they may be.
What I've learned: Downloading the powerpoint and typing notes underneath is more beneficial as you can keep up with your professor. Only when you study for the exam should you write out all of your notes and powerpoint topics. This is a good way to keep notes organized so that you will not have to waste time trying to figure it out later.

What I thought: Re-watching lectures is a good way to review the material.
What I've learned: If you don't dedicate all of your attention to the recorded lecture, you won't retain information and you will have wasted your valuable time. By retaking notes during the video lecture, you're bound to catch more information and it will make sense.

What I thought: Reading the books, chapter by chapter, is an efficient way to understand information.
What I've learned: You will waste hours reading entire chapters. Skip the chapter and re-read the power points and your notes. Only use the book for clarification.

What I thought: The only place to study is in the library.
What I've learned: There are a myriad of places on college campuses to study and switching up your routine study spot may give you a fresh feeling and help you retain more information.

While failing a midterm felt like the worst possible thing at the time may have actually benefited me. I learned that what I was doing wasn't working, and that I needed to find more effective ways to study.

You can study all you want, but if it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work. As discouraged as you may feel, it is important to pull yourself back up and continue to work hard at improvement and progress.

Image Alt
College Life |  Source: annie29

Your First Semester and Your Mental Health: A How-To Guide

Pack your meds, people.

College is an adventure to say the least. Here's how to deal with the exciting world of the mental health system in a brand new city/at a brand new school.

Have all of your medical paperwork together.
This may sound obvious, but some of us may have forgotten. Your insurance card, your diagnoses, your prescriptions, your meds - all of these things are good to have on hand. If you can get several refills on your medicines before you get to college, that's even better.

Most campus doctors will take your word if you say you have depression, but they're going to want to see some papers for ADD. Psychiatrists are typically willing to fax your papers into the school, but it may take a few days.

Be sure you have money.

My Concerta cost like $50 and my parents gave me $20 bucks at the beginning of the semester. I did not have a job. It was a bad time. If you depend on your parents, let them know how much your meds cost and how much you'll need per month.

Talk to disability services.
No one likes to think of themselves as disabled. I didn't. But having documentation that says, "Hey, look, I have some hurdles other people don't" can be invaluable at college. It can make the difference between an A and a C, or even an F. Having someone in your court as you navigate a new situation is always a good thing.

Make use of on-campus resources.
Many colleges have free therapy and doctors who can manage your medicine. Take advantage of that shit, because I have a $30 copay out in the real world. While I would not recommend having them prescribe new things entirely unless they seem to know their stuff, having a reduced or free psychiatrist on campus is really handy.

That being said, I've had some very good campus therapists and some very bad campus therapists. Which, I suppose, is like most therapists. You're going to find someone who can blow your mind, and you're going to find someone who talks about their kids and victim blames you for things that happened in elementary school. It's really a toss-up. Don't be afraid to ask for a new one if yours keeps relating your deep-seated traumas back to the funny thing their granddaughter did last weekend.

Let your professors know at the beginning of the semester.
(Most) professors want to see you succeed. If you tell them you've got some other things going on before you crash and burn, you look much more credible. One of my medications makes me very tired. I let my professors know; and they were more willing to let my attendance slide for morning classes. (Talking to disability services also helped with this.)

Last semester one of my classes was at 9 a.m. After I explained the situation to my professor she let me come in during later studio hours and I ending up getting an A in the class.

Get familiar with your pharmacy.

You want to know where this is. The sooner you find it and the less time you spend wandering around town crying the better. This definitely never happened to me.

Image Alt
College Life |  Source: @skywardkick

What I Learned Volunteering at a Prison

The Prison Project.

I got that same email every term and never once did the prospect of volunteering with convicted felons pique my interest. Honestly, I never even clicked into it, given the subject line.

But this summer, I found myself enrolled in only two courses--stuck in Bumblefuck, New Hampshire--with longer days and fewer parties. So, I signed up. Maybe volunteering would be cool, maybe I'd enjoy learning how to do social good in college. Plus, I'd just binge-watched OITNB and prison was now a fascinating counterculture to me.

When I looked closer, I noticed it was simply two hours a week practicing creative writing with these guys. I'm not very good at much, but if I had to choose a single thing at which I'm half-decent, I'd say writing. Selfishly, I was excited to practice my own writing, maybe even show off a little bit. I never even thought about the men I would soon come to know.

At training we were warned... and warned, again. These men were scoundrels. We were told they'd shake your hand just to smell it while they masturbated after. They'd only come to look at girls and brush up next to you if they could manage. We weren't allowed to wear tight clothes or have skin exposed. In 80-degree weather, off we'd go in our sweat pants and baggy long sleeves.

But it was nothing like that.

These men were amazing. They were insightful. They were bright. They were repentant. They were in a place with not much else to do but reflect and it showed. They detested the system--which had fucked them over. They loved. They missed. They ached. They grew... and they were still growing. They were anxious. They were hopeful. They were strong. They had so much to say. They poured their souls out in these essays.

It became the most meaningful thing in my life. They always told us how grateful they were for us. I went week after week, becoming more and more invested each time. I should've told them how grateful I was.

Then, I realized something: the difference between them and us was that they had gotten caught. Have you ever broken the law? Committed a felony? Used drugs? I definitely have, and for no good reason. Half of our class was in for armed robbery. A Hail-Mary attempt to provide for their families! It was heartbreaking.

And they all talk about their families. So here's what I learned: never take them for granted, no matter how horrible they may seem sometimes. Never take anything for granted, really. You could lose it in a second--not necessarily to jail time if you're some holy motherfucker, which I'm sure as hell not--but to anything.

Think: Is there anything you could regret if something happened today? Tie up your loose ends. Help others anytime you can. Un-burn your bridges. And be grateful for each and every second. They could be gone, for this or that reason, in a heartbeat.

Image Alt
College Life |  Source: weeatfilms.com

40 Thoughts You Have When Driving Back Home for Winter Break

Any chance we can shorten this shit?

1. Holy shit I can't believe I actually survived this semester.
2. Like I really am still breathing and walking and doing other vital things like that.
3. And I don't even think I have PTSD.

4. Like maybe a little bit but there's therapy and shit, I got this.
5. Go me. I fuckin rock.
6. Now its time to pack it all up and say bye for a full month.
7. Oh my god.
8. A full month.
9. Like, literally more than 30 days.
10. Past the holidays.
11. And New Years.
12. FUCK. I have to get drunk with people from high school again?!

13. No thanks, I'll pass.
14. I swear to god if I have to hear one more D-III football player talk about the state championship game from three years ago, I'm walking my ass back to school.
15. What the hell am I going to do with four weeks of no responsibility?
16. I have to go back to working at Kohl's.
17. And I have a lot of New Girl to catch up on.
18. I can also finally start making sped-up YouTube videos of me doing my makeup in hopes of getting free shit sent to me.
19. Wow, I actually have a lot on the agenda.
20. I can even squeeze in annoying the shit out of my brother and re-watching the Harry Potter movies a dozen times.

21. Yeah, this break totally isn't gonna suck.
22. As long as I avoid people from high school.
23. Finally convince my mom I'm capable of cleaning my room on my own terms.
24. Aaaaaand get my ex-boyfriend to start hooking up with me again.
25. Even though he has a girlfriend.
26. And she has double D's.
27. And I'm totally over it and it's fine and doesn't bother me at all.

28. Oh my god.
29. This break is gonna suck.
30. I need my college friends back and it's been like two hours.
31. I need happy hour specials of five dollar mega mugs.
32. That shit doesn't happen in the real world.
33. Which, clearly, means that I am not ready for the real world.
34. I need the quad looking all ready for Christmas.
35. And all the cute little squirrels that get eerily close to me when I walk to class.
36. Is it too late to turn around now?
37. Have all my friends gone back home too?
38. Does my beloved college town look like a ghost town?
39. And how long will it be until my mother files a missing persons report if I get home any later than the GPS says?

Image Alt
College Life |  Source: @smashleytime

How To Ace This Semester

You can do it!

For whatever reason, going back into the spring semester can be hard. It might be because we only have a month off versus a few months or it might be the winter blues kicking our butts, either way, there are ways to get motivated and do our best for school again. Here's how:

1. Think happy thoughts.
Surely there is one thing going on this semester that you are remotely excited about. Is it a class you're taking with a friend? Are you not working as many hours this semester?

Whatever happy thoughts you can think of, hold on to them and don't let go. At least not until the end of the semester. Optimism is a powerful tool if used correctly, and I can certainly say no one has ever had a panic attack from happiness.

2. Eliminate as much stress as you can.
Considering that this seems to be the idc semester, this one shouldn't be too hard. However, if you have any hopes of getting motivated into getting any work done, you need to get rid of any baggage that will slow you down.

For example, having a tiff with a friend? Try to get that resolved before the semester starts, otherwise you will sabotage your motivation because you will feel depressed/pissed.

3. Identify your weak spots.
Do you tend to shake off math homework for Netflix? Then you may want to think about either not subscribing for a few months or limiting yourself on screen time.

It's an adult world we're going into, so we need to make adult decisions. It's tough, I know, but your grades will most likely thank you later for seeing what your weak points are and planning accordingly for this next semester.

4. Set goals.
Cheesy, yes. Effective? Also yes. If you set a goal for what grades you would like to get in your classes or how much time you are going to study a week, this gives you an idea of what sort of effort you are going to put into this semester.

Even if you're goal is a get a B in a subject where you normally get a C, this is a wonderful goal to think about adopting. Any goal is better than no goal.

5. Remember, you are capable.
One thing that can instantly kill your chances of success is lack of confidence. Remember that you have done well enough to get into college, if you can't think of any other achievements in your life (of which I'm sure there are many)!

Look a hard class in the eye and tell it what's up. You can handle any class college gives to you; you just need to remind yourself (maybe on a daily basis) that you mean business and you will do well.