Thanks, College.

Common real-world skills we learned at college, in or out of the classroom.

  1. Parallel parking: If you’re from the city this might not apply to you, or if you don’t have a car. For those of us from the suburbs or country with a car on campus, we learned to parallel park soon after arriving to college.  This skill comes in handy often when travelling home, to the city, or on vacation.  It also widens your parking possibilities in any situation.
  2. Tolerance for extreme temperatures: As the weather gets colder, we adapt to walking across campus in the cold, with the wind blowing through our layers of jackets and long-johns. We learn in our first semesters to bundle up and forget about being cute.
  3. Independence: Whether you were looking forward to this or not, you become more independent in college. You have to if you go to college more than about an hour away from home.  You (hopefully) learn how to do your laundry, budget your money, clean your room without being prompted, and study and do homework on your own free will.
  4. Time management: Sometimes, it takes people their whole college careers to get this down, but everyone learns throughout their college life how important time management is. Some people know the importance of it and still choose to manage their time badly.  You have to balance classes, studying, work, friends, sleep, eating, and mental health.  Usually this “balance” involves giving up one or more of these things, which one depends on your priorities.
  5. Multi-tasking: You may have been good at this before college, but you’ll be a master by the time you graduate. Multitasking can look like many things: eating while you work, study, or walk to class, taking homework to work, or considering meeting with a study group to be hanging out with friends.

 

We learn a lot in college that may have nothing to do with our degrees, but these skills or pieces of knowledge are just as important as the information we learn in class.  What are some skills you’ve learned in college that have become useful in real life?  What are you most thankful for?

Time Flies – How to Slow Down & Enjoy It

Is it just me or is time moving way too fast?! Yet another semester over and another begins. Gretchen Rubin famously wrote, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Every day has a monotonous undertone and this is due to the fact that I know my schedule like the back of my hand. I am unconsciously going about the week as it is a good schedule, but a familiar one. Maybe you can relate, but I am here to tell you there are ways to perceive time more slowly. We do not have to be time’s hostage in this life. We are human and we will use our humanity as a tool to deliberately manipulate time. Here are some easy tricks to assist you in your life if you feel time slipping by too briskly.

Appreciate the little things

It is no secret that as we grow older, we take things for granted. Our computers, phones, cars, home, and even friends and family. You cannot blame us either as it is due to hedonic adaptation: the phenomenon where humans have a tendency to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. When you receive a new phone, it feels like the most ingenious device ever invented by man. Then after a month or two goes by, you are back to your “it’s just a phone” mindset. Could you imagine your life without a phone? This piece of metal and glass that connects you with most anyone and has all of the information published thus far in history, but you still throw it around to fidget with.

The point is, to welcome novelty into your life. Remember when you were a child and everything was mind blowing to you? Induce a little childlike wonder into your day-to-day. Darwin said, “Attention, if sudden and close, graduates into surprise; and this into astonishment; and this into stupefied amazement.” Take just about anything into your hands and really focus on it. Think about how much work has gone into making this thing, what it can do for you, and if it did not exist. You will quickly learn to be thankful for this object and see it differently every time you see it again. A little bit of gratitude goes a long way.

Plan for things

Do you remember the month of December as a child? Did it not feel like an eternity until winter holidays? Anxiously awaiting your gifts as you see presents begin to slowly appear under a tree in your living room. We can use the same principle as a tool in our lives. Plan for a trip or some event way in the future. Make it something you really want to do to be enthusiastic for it. Have a countdown timer that you can always refer to to shorten your patience. It is similar to if I asked you to close your eyes and not say anything. Then, tell me when you believe three minutes have passed. Minutes would drag on as when you focus on time, it slows down.

Don’t plan for other things

Planning a fun trip is a great way to slow time and have an adventure by the end of it, but how can I slow time down even more every day? Being spontaneous is an enjoyable tactic that you can perform with the free time you possess. Instead of binge watching Netflix shows, go for a walk or a bike ride in your area. If one sat down and watched shows all day versus taking a leisurely stroll through town, who would you say had a longer and more enriching time? It is important to shake up the routine often to be a more well-rounded person. When you feel yourself apart of your own familiar agenda with free time, this should be a cue to do something different. Go visit a new coffee shop and read a book or take a drive and bring along a coin to decide which way you turn. An added plus is when you are more spontaneous, you are going to be a better time to be around. We all like the person that flips the script when you are with them.

Learn a new hobby

Last time I ask you to think back to your childhood. Remember learning an instrument or practicing a sport? How long did it take you to learn cursive? Learning is a process and while it should be fun, it is also taxing on your mind. We can use this for our benefit to elongate the fourth dimension. Pick up a new skill be it drawing, gardening, cooking, photography, coding, or dancing. As a personal preference, it is good to pick a hobby that has a tangible result so the progress you make is clearly shown. This will make your motivation to stick with it more difficult to diminish. There is also no need to be hard on yourself with learning a new hobby. Remember that you are doing this to make your life more interesting and vivid.

There is an overarching theme throughout these tricks and that is to be mindful of yourself and anything not yourself. Taking in the world with a fresh pair of eyes can be the difference between a life of banality or a life of excitement. Living life to the fullest while we can, is the only fulfilling option we hold. Be grateful for our friends and family for being people we can trust and knowing that they trust us. To beat eternity is to stretch every moment into an eternity.

How to Make or Break a Habit

From biting nails, to caffeine, all the way to drinking. Every habit can be broken down to this system above famously coined by Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit. It is called The Habit Loop and it consists of three parts being cue, routine, and reward. This cycles in repetition so efficiently that you do not question why you do some of the things you do. If you give it some thought, it is rare that you find yourself thinking about how you brush your teeth or the order in which you dress yourself. You have already mapped the neural network and stored it away so you never have to bring it up again because you bury it in validation. This is the dangerous and awesome power of habits because has the power to benefit or deteriorate you.

Cue

The cue is the trigger for the action that you do. It usually has something to do with your location, social reasons, emotional states, or timing. For example, the cue for smoking could be anxiety or restlessness building up. It could also be that they smoke everyday at exactly the same time making their schedule prompts the internal desire. The cue sparks the automatic processing that you store away so you rarely question the impulse. If smoking is difficult to grasp as a want, most can relate to the inclination to drinking coffee at certain parts of the day due to low energy.

Routine

The routine is the easiest element to understand. You want to cease the act of consuming caffeine or eating unhealthy. The routine is the act that follows the cue in a response to satisfy the desire.

Reward

The reward is the reasoning behind deciding why the steps prior are worth doing again in the future. It provides a positive support for the routine, increasing the odds of doing it again. The reward can be something tangible like money (gambling), or intangible like social validation. I like the energy coffee offers so I will drink it more often. The downside is I will be tired if I do not drink it throughout my day.

Using the Habit Loop to your Benefit

The maker of the Habit Loop has a system to play with habits in your life. First step is to identify the routine. This should be somewhat easy to point to as if there is a desire to change it, you should know what is being changed. Next step is to experiment with the rewards. For example, if you drink coffee habitually, you might be just looking for an energy. There are different ways to achieve this that is not coffee. Trying different things to achieve the same result is an effective way to realign a habit. Another way to change the usual is to isolate the cue. This can be more difficult living in such a stimulus driven world but asking what you were feeling right before enacting the habit is an easy method to help with the process. Final step is to note the cue and change the reward.

If you have the urge to smoke, try doing something that will give you the same stimulus. Perhaps it is painting or reading a book. Whatever it may be, make it an experience you want to partake in. Try something new so you can trade out smoking with a cool hobby you picked up.

5 Ways to Survive the Stress of College

College is the best of times and the worst of times. Close friends, bad food, and memories to last a lifetime. College is also a ton of work whether it is yet another essay, pages of homework, or staying up all night finishing a group assignment that you have not started until that night, the workload is more than enough to cause stress. Here are five easy and helpful tips to see next semester with gratitude instead of attitude.

Organize and Plan

Keeping everything clean and easy to find is a simple way to experience less stress. Buy a binder or folders to keep the classes separate and to have a central location to put all of the papers. It also may be worthwhile to buy a planner or to use the calendar on your phone to remind you of assignments. Find what works best for you and invest in organizing yourself. Same goes with your computer. Create folders on your computer to have a location to save to when you are working on something digital. No more putting everything in your downloads and searching for the date modified instead of the arbitrary title you named it.

Studying can be boring and monotonous at times but try different studying methods to boost your morale. The Pomodoro Technique is the one I use which is to put a timer for 25 minutes and with zero distractions, you start your work. Go at your own pace but make sure you have everything on do not disturb so nothing will tempt you to sway away from work. After the timer goes off, you have five minutes to do what ever you need to do and then set another 25 minutes to work. This allows you to be efficient with the time you are offering yourself and still have some time for cat videos.

For your own mental sanity, set aside time to work and play every day. Have a goal in mind and when that is complete, go reward yourself with doing something you love. Psychologically, a reward system to finishing work provides the great benefits and little residual damage from the labor.

Exercise

Getting the heart pumping can be a great way to relieve stress when college has you down. Going for a run, lifting weights, or dancing for a period of time can help to reset your mind and body to attack the day with relentless optimism. Not to mention it regulates your sleep cycle, metabolism and energy. Would it not be great if you did not have to drink four cups of coffee throughout the day? Exercise may just be the answer you are looking for to obtain more energy for your day.

Meditation

Simply breathing can make a world of difference for your mindset. Meditating every day can provide positive benefits such as an increase in happiness, self-awareness, and concentration. It also decreases stress, anxiety, and aging. “Meditation is mind without agitation,” Narasimhan says. When it comes to stress, we could all use a mind without unnecessary turbulence. Reminding yourself what your purpose is and aligning your values through breathing often can make your motivation unstoppable.

If you do not have time for simple meditation, get credit for it. Most Universities have stress management courses offered in their curriculum. The class is an easy three elective credits and truly does assist you in your college journey. Look for it under the social work category of classes.

GET MORE SLEEP

I know this sounds a little counter-intuitive. Getting less time to do more work? Sleep holds amazing benefits that we have grown to forget. The simple method here is to be more productive, sleep more. When we lack sleep, our quality of work decreases. You may be doing a lot of work but probably not a lot of quality work. There are serious health problems with sleep deprivation such as trouble concentrating, high blood pressure, risk for diabetes, risk of heart disease, weakened immunity, and weight gain. Basically throwing all the benefits of meditation and exercise away because you are not sleeping enough. Take the time needed each night and get a full eight hours (or as close to as you can) of sleep. Tiredness is not a trophy and it is something we should not be striving for.

Do Something Creative

This one is easy. Every person has their form of art be it painting, drawing, playing an instrument, cooking, or underwater basket weaving. Setting time aside every day to mastering your craft is a fun way to relieve stress and increase overall well-being. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, engaging in just one creative activity each day can make you more likely to feel “energetic, enthusiastic, [and] excited.” It goes on to say, “Overall, these findings support the emerging emphasis on everyday creativity as a means of cultivating positive psychological functioning.” There you go, science has now supported the idea of creating art for clear benefits. Get working and create something beautiful.

College is an adventurous odyssey filled with self-discovery and a metric ton of ramen noodles. It is a lot of seemingly unnecessary work and stress but it is all worth it in the end. Hopefully with these simple methods of stress management, college will be more of a positive experience.

Compact vs. Colossal – A Comparison of College Size

 

There are benefits to attending a small college or a big college, and with those benefits come drawbacks as well.  Some people thrive in one environment while others suffer, but here are some of the pros and cons of both.

Small College:

You Know Everybody

Pro: Freshman year it’s super easy to make friends because you keep running into the same people all the time

Con: Junior/Senior year you’ve cut ties with some people and you’re really tired of seeing your former friends all the time…everywhere…and you can’t get away.

Every building on campus is within walking distance

Pro: If you live on campus, you can walk to every building on campus within just a few minutes, and sometimes, the classroom buildings are right outside your front door (perfect for early classes).

Con: If you live on campus, you really have no excuse for being late to class since everything is so condensed.

Small Class Sizes

Pro: You have more personal relationships with your teachers and classmates.  Professors usually know their students’ names fairly quickly, especially once you declare your major and get set in the same classes with most of the same people.

Con: It’s almost impossible to skip class without being noticed, so you have to have almost perfect attendance even in easy classes.

Community/Small Town Feel

Pros: You get to hear the latest gossip on everyone that you know.

Cons: You’re probably a subject to be gossiped about.

 

Big College:

Lots of People

Pros: You have plenty of potential friends, and you’re able to avoid people that you don’t prefer.

Cons: Class sizes can range from small 30 student classes to hundreds of people in a lecture hall, so student-teacher ratio can vary drastically.

Sports

Pros: The energy of a big college on game day is incredible, especially when your team is winning!

Cons: Parking is difficult to find on a normal day, so game day makes it almost impossible to find a parking spot on campus.  It also brings even more people to campus, so, again, not ideal for non-people people.

Events/Groups

Pros: There are plenty of groups like sororities, fraternities, and clubs to choose from, so you’d always have something to do.

Cons: With there always being something to do besides homework, sometimes college life can get in the way of learning. Also, with so many options to choose from, there can be almost too many options for activities and not enough time.

There are numerous factors that can go into selecting a college as a freshman or as a transfer student. The best tip I can give is for you to really evaluate what suits your personality best and then use some of these pros and cons to help align your preferences. So whether you go big or go small – stay true to yourself and soak up every minute!