Advice I wish I had been told in first grade – The North Wind
Someone, probably a parent or counselor who hasn’t been a student in over 20 years, has probably already given you advice on how to survive your undergraduate experience. These tips can range from using a planner to keep track of all your assignments to getting enough sleep to the best “study hacks”, but the problem is that not all of the tips are as universal as we sometimes like. think. What worked for your older cousin may not work for you, and college is the perfect place to explore the routines, social situations, and work environments that set you up for success.
Tip #1: Success doesn’t mean you get it right the first time. Success, in my mind, is an incredibly messy, exploratory process with a ridiculous number of “mistakes” along the way. When I prepare to succeed, I also prepare to “fail” because success is ultimately an ongoing process facilitated by my reflection on past experiences and mistakes.
Like a perfectionist in recovery, this can be hard to deal with at first because I want to believe that with enough preparation and thought, I can do everything perfectly the first time. However, making mistakes is ultimately inevitable. Despite my hyper-organized planner and calendar system, I will always forget to enter an important meeting that I scheduled at the last minute. By dealing with the aftermath of missing that meeting, I’ll be able to re-evaluate my organizational system and come up with a different plan that fits a little better with my hectic life of scheduling last-minute email meetings. It’s never perfect and it takes time, but by being willing to adjust your systems and habits, I think you’ll find your systems evolve for the better over time, giving you more reliable patterns when you get your diploma.
Tip #2: Go easy on yourself. College is tough and fighting for every little thing is not only exhausting but also a great way to feel unmotivated. By allowing myself to be human and imperfect, the stressors of classes, adult responsibilities, and social engagements feel less suffocating. It’s normal to drop this class. It’s normal not to be proud of the work you do. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and unprepared. As long as you continue to control yourself, monitor your reactions to your environment, and make small adjustments to improve your health (physical, mental, emotional, and academic), you are doing just fine.
Tip #3: Take the leap – talk to that person, go to that event, try that terrifying new thing. You’ve probably heard this at every college intro event, but hanging out is the best way to feel connected to campus. These connections, whether with another person, an organization or a project, are what help to create a balance between the courses and the personal life. When you live at or near your college and are constantly in a collegiate state of mind, having other commitments and fun opportunities is necessary to avoid burnout. While it seems overwhelming to tackle extracurricular activities, make new friends, and start college classes at the same time, it’s definitely worth striking a balance between them all now.
Tip #4: Go on a hike. There are so many great places to hang out in the woods around Marquette and asking people to join you for a weekend hike is a fantastic way to meet new people. One of my favorite places to hike is Wetmore Landing, but Sugarloaf and Hogsback are also classics. The UP is the perfect place to forest bath, the practice of walking in natural spaces to improve mental health and general well-being, and we would be remiss not to savor every aspect of it that we can. I find that a walk along the perimeter of Près Isle during my three-hour break between classes is the perfect way to reset my stress levels and take a mental break. If you need any other reason to get out as much as possible, just take a look at the changing leaves in the weeks ahead and tell me you don’t want to walk along the beautiful blue shore of Lake Superior with red and gold confetti drifting around you. If you don’t fall in love with this feeling, I don’t know what to tell you.
Tip #5: Expand your horizons (i.e. don’t just stay on the NMU campus). As students, I feel like we sometimes get stuck in the bubble of campus life and only venture to Third Street to grab a bagel or a pancake before heading back to the dorms. Not only are there wonderful festivals and events downtown throughout the year, local organizations are also a great way to stay connected with the Marquette community. The Farmer’s Market is also a fantastic place to have breakfast on Saturday mornings and support local artists and farmers. There is always something to do and ways to give back to the wider community. When I got involved in a Marquette community organization, I not only attended events I didn’t know existed, but I also felt a sense of connection to Marquette – not just NMU. This connection is what will keep me coming back to the city and has helped me have a more holistic undergraduate experience.