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Don’t Regret Missed Opportunities

opportunities

“Don’t regret missed opportunities!”

The number of times I’ve heard some version of this phrase throughout my four years as an undergraduate is immeasurable. For a while, this phrase seemed about as cliche as any. I understood what it meant, but I didn’t quite understand the gravity of the saying until this past semester.

Four years seems like a long time, but as a college student, rarely is this free time. When you’re not in class, you’re studying for class. When you’re not busting your butt for school, you’re likely partitioning any remaining time for either sleep, social life, or extracurriculars. The opportunities to take a step back and reflect on what’s happening in the moment are sparse. College flies by and it’s often hard to see it passing by.

Nearing graduation, I felt upset with myself for not doing as much as I could. I felt I missed out on a lot of events! I never saw a Pittsburgh basketball game. There were interesting classes I wanted to take and groups I wanted to participate in. In the weeks leading up to my graduation, these small “regrets” ate at me. I’d never have the opportunity to do most of these things again. The pressing question I continually asked myself was “am I going to regret this when I’m older?”

After sorting through these nagging thoughts, I finally came up with a few answers. First, there’s no way I’ll be able to definitively answer this question for another 10 years. Second, as I was worrying about things I didn’t do, I forgot about all of the things I did do, and I did so much! I met so many friends who I’ll work to stay in touch with forever, I turned the city of Pittsburgh into a place I can call home, and I learned how to become the person I am today.

All of the things I did molded me. Does it matter if I didn’t make it to a Pitt basketball game? Maybe to some of my family members who love basketball and “don’t know why I went to a D1 school if I won’t even go to a game!” But to me, maybe not.

Now, as a graduate, I look back on my entire four years and think, Wow, it goes by so fast. Reflecting on what I did helps me not worry so much about missed opportunities. Yes, I probably could have taken better advantage of what Pitt had to offer, but kicking myself isn’t going to bring them back.

For all college students who feel similarly, I recommend you take some time and reminisce on all of the amazing, heartbreaking, stressful, inspiring, and enlightening moments you had the opportunity to experience. These years are going to fly by and they’re almost certainly going to shape you.

Don’t regret the missed opportunities. Rather, cherish the ones you had.

How to Stay Sane During Finals

Finals week is coming faster than we could say “OMG, I need to get on top of things.” Even the most seasoned finals veteran struggles with managing time and energy while trying to get things done as effectively as possible. Unfortunately, finals are difficult and very stressful. There really isn’t an easy way out. However, there are some great tactics for relieving stress and staying sane during finals week. After almost 8 finals weeks, here’s what I’ve learned:

stay sane during finals

Be Healthy

It’s so easy to neglect our health while we’re cramming for exams and putting together assignments. Unfortunately, if our health is bad, it’s likely our performance is also going to be bad. Make sure to eat healthy meals with foods high in vitamins and minerals and low in processed ingredients. Not only will it keep your body running smoothly, but it’ll also help you feel more awake and focused. Some foods thought to boost energy include beans, citrus, and leafy greens. Additionally, make sure to fit in some cardio a few days each week. Exercise helps to increase endorphins, making you feel more positive and focused. On top of everything, hydration is key. Drinking adequate amounts of water not only helps the body function, but it also helps to regulate attention and energy.

stay sane during finals

Have Fun

College students often have the tendency to feel if they are doing something enjoyable, then they’re doing something wrong. This mindset is not only detrimental to mental health, but it can also negatively affect your work. Overworking yourself causes fatigue and lack of concentration, which can actually lead to lower grades. Therefore, one of the most important ways to stay sane during finals is to have fun. This doesn’t mean a wild night out with the pals, but taking an hour to get dinner with friends or to see a show can make a huge difference!

stay sane during finals

Change up the Space

Another great way to stay sane during finals is to make sure that you’re not in the same space for too long. Even if you have the best seat at the library, staying in the same spot for too long can make things even more boring than they already are. By changing up your environment ever so often, you’re also shifting the way your mind absorbs information because of changes in light, posture, etc.

stay sane during finals

Meditate

Mindful meditation is an excellent way to help deal with stress, increase attention, and boost cognition. If you’re beginning to feel stressed out, take some time alone to sit, or even walk, and relax your mind. Concentrate on your situation and sort out everything you need to do. Identify why you need to do it, and then how you’re going to do it. Remind yourself although finals are challenging, you’re capable of performing at your best and that studying will ultimately be rewarding. Finals aren’t fun, but attending college is a privilege.

stay sane during finals

Stay Organized

If you’re anything like me, you find it extremely difficult to stay organized. During stressful times, my lack of organization causes me even more stress in addition to what I’m already enduring. Before finals begin, it’s a great idea to get your life together. If you’re inclined to use your computer, start a spreadsheet with all of the assignments you need to finish and all of the exams you need to study for. Make columns for dates,  study intensity, and goals. If you prefer being able to physically write things down, use a planner. Winging finals is always a bad idea.

Finals are going to be stressful. However, it’s always important to put your mental and physical health first. Keep a good head on your shoulders. Take care of yourself. Make efforts to stay organized and confident, then the rest will come along smoothly. Good luck getting ready for finals, everyone!

How to Spend Your Summer Before Freshmen Year

How to Spend Your Summer Before Freshmen Year

Congratulations, you did it! You roughed it through four possibly awkward, possibly tiresome, and hopefully meaningful years of high school. By this time you’ve already made your decision on where you’ll be heading in the fall and whether it be near or far, you’re probably feeling something between the lines of panic and complete excitement. However, despite the possible restlessness of wanting to (or perhaps not wanting to) start freshmen year of college as soon as possible, it’s important not to wish this actually very important summer away. Here’s why:

As a soon to be college senior, I’m constantly thinking back to points in my college career and wondering how I could have done things differently. Although I don’t regret too much, I do wish that I hadn’t spent the summer before freshmen year of college wasting away and waiting for the day that I could finally move into my new dormitory. And yes, normally summers are for resting, and considering you’ve just spent the last few weeks (still are spending) preparing for finals, finishing up senior projects, stressing about prom, and anticipating graduation, you’re probably exhausted. So by all means, take a rest, but also take into consideration that this summer is the best time to discover some great things about yourself before the impending stress that college and preparing for the real world take over. With this being said, use this intermediate time between graduating high school and starting college to solidify yourself before starting the next chapter in your life.

One of my biggest suggestions is to try new things. If you’ve wanted to learn an instrument, do it now. If you have an interest in photography? Start taking pictures! Like writing? Try out all of the genres! Finding something that motivates you separate from school, work, and your social life is one of the best things you can do for yourself, regardless of what it is or how good you are at it. By enjoying something and watching yourself improve at it, It allows you to achieve a stronger sense of self-efficacy. The reason why the summer before college is a crucial time for finding or strengthening this interest is because colleges offer a haven for interests. Whether it be classes, clubs, or lectures, you’re bound to meet people who share your interests as well as having a space to take this hobby to the next level with a multitude of resources and support. So use these months to enjoy your skills or find new things you love doing because it will pay off.

Another important thing to do before starting school is spending as much friends and family time as possible. No matter how annoying your family is, you’re going to miss them more than anything in the world once college starts, especially if you’re going far away from home. And you’re obviously going to miss your friends. When you’re away at college, no matter how great of a friend you are, keeping in touch is difficult. With school stressors and trying to make new friends, it’s easy to lose touch. This summer make sure to collect as many great memories as possible. Hang out with your dorky parents, make time for your grandparents, travel with friends, and most importantly, take millions of photos! You’ll thank yourself come autumn.

Last but not least, use this summer as a time for self-reflection. The past four years of high school shaped you as a person. Consider all of your accomplishments as well as your downfalls and piece together how they sculpted the person that you are today. Learn to appreciate everything that you learned in high school, and not just the lessons that you were taught in the classroom, because they’re going to truly help you adapt in college. The way you interacted with others, how you learned to deal with stress, and anything else that challenged you made you, well, you. And soon you’re going to deal with so many other things that will inevitably shape you even more. Use this summer as a moment to take a breather and recognize yourself before things start moving too quickly again.

So kick back, try new things, make time for friends and family, and recognize yourself because this summer might be one of the last summers before taking on a lot of responsibility. Most importantly, enjoy it and never wish for time to pass faster!

Getting to Know People on Campus

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It can seem daunting to land on a huge university campus, much bigger than your high school, and just be expected to make friends for life. Here are some tips to meet people and get to know people so college will seem a little less overwhelming:

  • Meet People On Your Floor- you can do this by going around with a box of cookies and knocking on people’s doors to introduce yourself, stopping into a room with an open door or just leaving your door open when your in your room to let people know that they are welcome to stop by!
  • Go To Social Events- especially at the beginning of the semester, there will be a ton of events, whether fairs on the mall or festivals on the quad, homecoming or sports games there is always something to go to- check them out and meet new people!
  • Find A Club You Are Interested In- if you are too intimidated to go to a huge social event, check out clubs that interest you- you’ll meet people who like the same things you do, and who can introduce you to yet more people.
  • Introduce Yourself To The Person Sitting Next To You- in each of your classes. Having friends in class is vital to getting notes when you “accidentally” miss class. This also gives you an automatic study-buddy for midterms and finals, and homework-helper to bounce problems off of.
  • Hang Out With Your Roommate- Who knows? Maybe he or she knows other random people on campus who you’ll sit with in the dining hall and become super close friends with…
  • Share Chocolate Cake In The Elevator- this only works if you have chocolate cake and your dorm has an elevator, but this worked for my mom and her best friend from college!

However you decide to go about it, making friends will make your college experience that much more fun and exciting! It may also be really helpful when it comes to your GPA if they are helping you out in classes also. So, don’t forget to make friends and be social while in college!

Is College Worth It?

So the big question- is college worth it? Some say college may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly worth your time and money. Granted, the rising cost of tuition and other college expenses isn’t cheap, but there are far more benefits to earning a degree than not. Not only will there be a greater increase in economic mobility after graduation, but college is also perfect for meeting new people, networking and landing that dream job.

college stats

Statistically, those who graduate with at least a bachelor’s degree made  98 percent more  than those who only had a high school diploma. Those are some good odds! One study also found that those who finished at a four year institution were expected to earn 1.2 million more than those who didn’t.

The advantages of college doesn’t just stop at higher pay grades. It has overall life benefits as well. They are said to be happier and healthier due to better access to healthcare and the ability for more leisure activities.

If paying for college is an issue, there are many avenues you can take to make the situation less of a burden. There are a whole range of scholarships offered to incoming freshman based on what you are majoring in or your age. Checking the colleges’ webpage will give you a better understanding of what is being offered.  Another route is through loans that can be found with low interest and financial aid. If you are working during the school year, many loan companies will allow you to pay the interest on the loan; cutting the price upon graduation.

In the end, college is an investment and with all investments, there are possible risks. But what can be more important than an investment in yourself?