Saturday, May 9, 2015

Steph (Mrs. K) Says: How To Thrive in College (Instead of Just Survive)

So, it's come at last.
At last, it's come.
The day I knew would come at last has come, at last.
My precious baby seniors are graduating.

I taught this group of young men and women when they were in the eighth grade and again when they were freshmen. In those two years, and in the following two, I grew to love these amazing kids with my entire heart. I'm at a loss for words to explain how and why they mean to me as much as they do, but they will forever have my love and respect. I am so incredibly proud of each and every one of them.
Now they're off to the real world I always warned them about. Their futures are bright and they are going to accomplish big things- just wait and see. But first, they have to survive college. LSU, UL, Tulane, Ole Miss, Springhill, Millsaps, UNO, McNeese, Southern, and Northwestern... new campuses with new experiences and new challenges await them.

When I went to LSU, I left the place I had grown up and lived my whole life to move an hour down I-10 to Baton Rouge.  The city itself was intimidating, but LSU's campus felt like an oasis. I found out a lot about myself those four years, and they were some of the best years of my life. But as with all major life changes, there is bad that comes with the good. Here, I've created the list of things that kept me going through those four difficult, exhilarating, life-changing years.

I wish you the best of luck, my sweet babies. Show them what you got. I know you're going to make me proud.

Mrs. K's College Survival Tips
1. Go to class. Professors will see your face and start to remember you. They'll be more likely to help you if they recognize you.

2. Go to the professor's office hours if you're struggling. That's what office hours are for! And bonus points - the prof will see that you care. That's how I passed Economics. It was not because I was making the grade, it's because the teacher literally gave me the C when I was going to make a D, because she saw how hard I was trying. 

3. Take good notes in class. Don't expect to remember it all like you could in high school. 

4. Re-read those notes every night. It'll help you to really digest the info and make it easier to remember. My dad used to tell me this, and I was always like "Mmhmm oh yea, sure Dad, will do." Lo and behold...he was right. (Ugh don't you hate when your parents are right?!)

5. Always pack a jacket/sweater/cardigan/long sleeved tee. Classroom temps are unpredictable and it's hard to focus when you're shivering!  (Yes, this makes me sound 90 years old. I don't care.)

6. History classes are like story time. Approach them that way- you're learning a story that you'll have to retell on the test. They're not always the most interesting stories, but stories nonetheless! Then on the test, you're just retelling a story you've heard.

7. Volunteer to be a note taker if that's offered in a class. Oftentimes you'll get something like priority scheduling in return, or at the least, a letter of recommendation to put with your resume. It looks good to future employers! And priority scheduling is GOLDEN, especially junior/senior year.

8. Join clubs/organizations/Greek life. If you hate it, at least you know. If you love it, stick with it. You will meet new people regardless, and that in and of itself is valuable.

9. Make friends in your classes. These people will become your study buddies, and you'll need them at 3:00 a.m. when you can't even see the words on your Biology 201 study guide because you're so delirious.

10. Don't drink during the week. Actually, you shouldn't drink at all until you're 21. But I'm not your mama, and I can't tell you what to do, but I will tell you that going to class hungover will not allow you to pay attention or take decent notes. Sleeping in and skipping class because you're hungover is even worse.
Remember points 1 and 3? No? Scroll up and read them again. They're no joke.

11. Don't forget about your general health. Move (other than walking to class). If you have an awesome rec center, USE IT. LSU people, you better lace up and run the lakes at least once. Do it for me. Additionally, Doritos should not be the biggest staple in your collegiate diet. Now cheese fries on the other hand... I kid, I kid! Now I'm not saying college is the time to start a restrictive diet, but just be aware of what you're putting in your body, or you will end up with the dreaded Freshman Fifteen. Or Forty-Seven.  Which totally didn't happen to me. Totally not. Nope. 

12. Don't forget about your faith. Spend time with God. Go to mass. Pray before tests. Eat the free meals at the Catholic Student Center during finals week (seriously, do this). You will need Him, so don't forget Him. 

13. It's okay to not be okay.  You are going to be so far away from the cocoon of high school and you're going to have some rock-bottom moments. REACH OUT TO SOMEONE. So many people love you. Even if you just need to talk there's the Crisis Text Line. Text "Start" to 741-741. It's free, it's confidential, and it's okay to not be okay. (Also- read this article.) You are so loved. 

14. Revel in it. You're in college, after all! Take chances. Meet new people. Enjoy every experience to the fullest. You are only young once and this is the best time of your life. Live it up!

15. My last bit of advice is something I've always said to you- Make good choices.  Do good things. Be known for your goodness and kindness.

You're going to be just fine, my sweet babies. I'm here if you ever need me.

Lots and lots of love,
Mrs. K

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