A Guide to Being Your Best Self in College

by Mallory over the Schyukill RiverMallory Nielsen

My first term at Drexel University is now behind me and finally have some time to catch my breath and look back on what a life changing experience these past 10 weeks have been. I’ve not only completed 17 credits worth of classes in a major that I would never have dreamed pursuing a year ago, but I have also moved into an apartment, made tons of new friends while maintaining relationships with old friends, and established my life in a new city. College is change, and change is scary. It’s easy to see how someone could lose themselves in this chaos but I have a few tips on how to embody the Be Your Best Self message and hold on to your sanity during this transition.

BE HEALTHY – The freshman 15 is real. Without your mom around to whip up a healthy dinner every night, it can be hard to resist pulling up your Grubhub app and ordering Chinese a few nights a week. No matter how yummy your dining hall food is, it’s going to get old. My tip: stock up on nonperishable meals, like canned soups, to get you over the dining hall slump. If you’re tired of the food, having some healthy options on hand will keep you from feeling like you have to order takeout. Also, most schools have a free gym, take advantage of it! Walking to and from class is great exercise but running on the treadmill will really help you break a sweat.

BE INVOLVED – Joining clubs can be intimidating as a freshman but believe me you should do it. It’s a good idea to wait until your classes start to join a club, that way you’ll be able to see just how much time outside of your academics you have to dedicate. Now is the time to start building your adult resume and some clubs in your intended career field can give you a professional boost. Not only is a good idea to get involved in your school but with the surrounding community as well. Now that I live in West Philadelphia, homelessness and poverty is a much more relevant problem to me than it has been before. Take the time to learn about the community outside of your campus and see if there are any ways you can help!

BE STUDIOUS – This one is a given, right? College is fun and exciting but it’s important to remember that you are there to learn. A lot of people use being away from home as an excuse to party and do things their parents wouldn’t let them do at home. BAD IDEA. It’s okay to have fun with your friends but it can’t get in the way of your studies. My tip: get your work done as soon as it’s assigned so you can be stress free when the time comes to hang out with friends. Also, take advantage of quiet spaces like the library. It’s a lot easier to write an essay there than in your living room while your roommates are playing Guitar Hero, trust me.

BE AMBITIOUS – Take on a second major. Learn a new language. Study abroad. Apply for student research positions. College is a time where you will have so many opportunities at your fingertips, take them! Don’t be afraid to try something new or let fears of not being good enough hold you back. Last term I took my first art class in five years. I had no idea what I was doing and dreaded it, but as an Interior Design major it was required. I dove in, tried my hardest and got an A+ in the class, not to mention I had tons of fun. Now I can’t wait to take another one next term and I feel great about my choice of major.

BE RESPONSIBLE – Now that you’re no longer under adult supervision, you can pretty much do whatever you want. It’s important that you hold onto your beliefs and morals as you head into this chapter of your life. Don’t let others pressure you into doing something or being someone you’re not. Also, college is a lot of “adulting”. It’s time to step up and make your own doctors’ appointments, have a budget, do your own laundry, and send your own mail. My tip: keep a schedule and to-do list. I like to write my to-do’s on sticky note and hang them on my desk so I can rip them down and throw them out when they’re finished. Very satisfying.

College can be hard to get the hang of, but once you figure it out, it’s a blast! Keep these tips in mind and you’ll do just fine!

XOXO – Mallory

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