What I Learned at NDSU. No Textbook Needed.

Some things in college simply aren’t taught or emphasized enough in the classrooms. To boil my collegiate career down to main takeaways is a daunting task, but I’ve come up with my three pointer from North Dakota State that would help any student at any age pursing any degree.

I suppose you can think of it as College Student 101, a highly intensive course free of charge. You’re welcome. My advice is as follows:

1. Work hard. Play hard. Higher education is a pretty big deal, and you should treat is as such in keeping up with your studies, taking notes on reading assignments and blah blah blah. But let’s not lose sight of our human need for socializing (AKA: fun!). College success is important, but between paper assignments and online blogs and buying professors apples, breaks are important too.

Maybe your ideal break is Netflix with your introverted pals Ben and Jerry or a mug night with your party friends Bud and Miller. Regardless, it’s important for your sanity to take time out of the chaotic phase in life we call college to do what you love. That being said, you better be able to wake up in the morning and focus just as much attention on getting your work done.

2. Travel by yourself. Anywhere. Just go. Studying abroad in South Korea for a semester was the best decision I have made and probably will ever make in my life (no offense future husband). It was so humbling to see the world from a different perspective, both literally and figuratively, and it’s amazing how much personal growth you are free to experience isolated in a foreign environment.

Whether it’s forfeiting an evening to drive to the other side of town to check out a new coffee shop or committing to a 2-year sabbatical on the other side of the world, do it. You won’t regret it.

3. Don’t become the stereotypically angry, stressed college kid. After about 2 consecutive days of no communication, my mother usually calls or texts to check up on me, almost inevitably catching me at a bad time (but really are there any “good” times?) in which I quickly answer the phone, give her one word answers and hastily conclude with an abrupt, “K mom, gotta go. I’ll catch ya later, bye.” Click.

Moms understand, of course, but do not make hasty, unfulfilling conversations a habit. How amazing is it that someone truly cares about you and your wellbeing? How disappointing it is that you can’t take two minutes of your day to reciprocate the love and respect.

On top of this, there will be days that every little first-world problem bands together and try to make you a crazy person (Like why do automatic toilets flush before I have a chance to wipe? It’s not supposed to be double-spaced? Is my roommate really having a party right now?). We must keep in mind that these are in fact minuscule problems, and we need to make like T-Swift and shake it off.

To help counteract this “college busy, I’m too stressed” illusion, think about a conversation with someone you care for as potentially the last one. What if an argument with a good friend ended up being the last thing you say to one another?

As dramatically morbid as it seems, the reality is that life as we know it can change in an instant. Make amends immediately if you feel it’s needed, and gain a peace of mind.

Now go call your mother and tell her you love her.

Surely a disclaimer is not needed but just to be clear, I am not an expert at being a college student. In fact I’m far from it. This advice comes from the mistakes and regrets I’ve had in the past during my time at NDSU. Now that I’m finally graduating, I give this advice to those of you who still have semesters left to undertake.

Do with it what you will, and I will see you on the other side, my friends.

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