Things I learned in college…

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Like most people, I went to school to learn about a specific program but walked away learning more things than just that from dealing with roommates to time management to leadership in clubs and organizations I was in. These were mostly through a lot of poor decisions and anxiety that I learned these things. I also had to learn how to study as I never had to when I was in high school. You might have been the A student then, but in a place of A students you learn that you don’t know everything and some things you just need help figuring out.

Dealing With Roommates

Roommates are not always easy to get along with especially if you are complete opposites in everything you do. But hat doesn’t mean you can’t manage to share the space you have been provided with. The main thing you have to do is agree on some ground rules. Some that I found were most helpful are:

  • Agree on noise level when someone is working on homework, projects, or studying for exams. This way you don’t get as frustrated. And if someone is going to be using the room for friends or doesn’t want to be disturbed, agree early on to communicate this to the other so it’s not “oh they kicked me out, again.” This way you can plan to head over to one of your own friends or head to the library for some solidarity studying.
  • Communicate from the beginning honestly what type of person you are. Such as what are your habits. Do you need a snooze alarm to go off ten times before you wake up? Do you need some time in silence after you wake up for people to talk to you? Are you messy or clean? Sooner you know all the little quirks, the easier it will be to deal with problems before they are problems.
  • Communicate when things start to bother you. Such as they keep grabbing your stuff instead of theirs. In my dorm room there was a sink that we both had our own sides and our own drawers. Sometimes early in the morning, someone would forget what side is theirs. Not a major thing but sometimes the little things add up over time.
  • Respect your roommates stuff. Get their permission first before borrowing anything. It just avoids stepping on someone’s toes.
  • Be mindful of who is coming over and how often. You might love having your group come over but they might not like it.
  • Be open to new things and to change. They might not have the same outlook on life as you so they might do things completely differently. The first year is the hardest as it’s everyone’s first year so you may change how you want things handled down the road. Just agree that the rules are subject to change as things come up. Don’t be like Sheldon from Big Bang though. No one wants a Sheldon.

Have something like the Roommate Agreement from the Big Bang Theory but don't want it as complex and one sided. Also make sure it's open for change down the road as things come up. Have something like the Roommate Agreement from the Big Bang Theory but don’t want it as complex and one sided. Also make sure it’s open for change down the road as things come up.

Overall, just be courtesy and treat them how you want to be treated.

Time management

This is the hardest thing to learn once you’re on your own. High school days are over and all professors have different late policies and deadlines. Make sure to keep track of these as they are important to know. And courses aren’t all together and you get to pick when they are. Some the most helpful tips I can give anyone from my experience are the following:

  • Keep your classes together as much as possible. If you have 50 minutes breaks in between classes that you swear are going to be for last minute studying, they almost always turn into social media time. Keeping classes close together get them done sooner in the day and leave longer blocks in your day for studying and doing other things. If you also block classes to only be 2 or 3 days in the week, then you have several free days to devote to work, studying, and other activities.
  • Plan to make it to all classes. You may have been able to get by in high school without doing to a mass majority of your classes but this is not the case in college. Many professors require attendance or they will drop your grade. They also help with homework and give information on what you will be tested on that may not be clear from the readings or assignments. And yes, the infamous pop quizzes are always a possibility to consider.
  • Make a study plan. It might sound strange to have one, but I always find I do my best in courses if I block out times to study or I tend to forget. Another helpful hint to calculate how much to study: 1 hour of lecture = 2 hours of studying. This is needed for all the discussions, exercises, quizzes, projects, papers, and assignments that are given out every week plus any additional studying for exams that need to occur.
  • Complete your homework on time. Again professors might have a deadline of the end of the semester but there is a suggested deadline for every assignment. Plan to keep up with them weekly and submit them the way the professor requires. Sometimes it’s through an online portal, email, or in person. Also plan to do the reading before lecture so you already know the background of the material that is being covered and you can ask questions while they are going over it rather than afterwards.
  • Balance your courses. Every professor thinks they are the most important, but you have to make that decision for yourself. Don’t spend all your time on the course you find to be the easiest or the funniest. You need to spread your time out between all your courses as they will all effect your GPA.

There’s no one to hold your hand in college. That being said professors also do not want you to fail and will work with you to help you get through the course. They may even recommend a tutor. Don’t be afraid to accept help. Not everyone can know everything. It’s ok to say “I’m lost.” It’s not the end of the world. Trust me I learned that the hard way and almost had to give up on my college education because of it.


At my first university, I became a member of Alpha Omicron Pi. And at my second university I was the Vice President of their National Technical Honor Society. I learned many things from both of these organizations on how to be a leader. Some of the main things I learned were:

  • Lead by example.
  • A little humility goes a long way.
  • Communicate effectively.
  • Keep meetings productive.
  • Know your limits.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Be emotionally aware.
  • Learn from the past.
  • Never stop improving.

If you know any other tips and tricks, I would love to hear them.

– Mae Polzine

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