Alex’s Declassified College Survival Guide
July 11, 2023
Alex Jordan, FFDA intern
Creating a Personal College Survival Guide
College can be the happiest years of your life or the most stressful time you’ve ever experienced. A lot of times, it’s a bit of both! While there’s no one-size-fits-all way to get through it, my personal college survival guide has been a great support for me, and I hope it is helpful to you as well!
Throughout college, I’ve used certain strategies to stay on top of my work while taking care of my mental health as best as possible. Next year I’ll be a senior at Mount Holyoke College, which is wild to me! (Time doesn’t feel real). I’m happy to say that every year I’ve been in college, my stress about academics has decreased, and my mental health has improved. This is primarily due to my approach to college life, which I change and improve each year. Hopefully, these tips from my college survival guide will also help you. Of course, everyone is different, so just take what fits for you!
College Survival Guide Tips
Tip #1: Learn how to skim
It honestly disturbs me that so many of my college peers seem to think you need to read every word of the assigned reading. Reading every single sentence of the assignment will add at least an hour – for every class! – to your homework load. That will stress you out and waste your time for no reason!
If you really enjoy the reading for a particular class, of course, feel free to read it in full. However, skimming the text, focusing on getting the main idea the author is trying to convey, and reading an online synopsis of the work is typically much more helpful. Much of what you read in college is convoluted with esoteric, confusing language, making it difficult for anyone who isn’t in academia.
Tip #2: Accommodations are your best friend
Find out how to get accommodations at your college for classes, exams, dorm placement, or whatever you need for support. If you’re in therapy, your therapist will be able to write why you need the accommodations you believe would help you. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed for getting accommodations because it’s very common. If accommodations will improve your college experience, that’s what they’re there for! Never fall into the trap of feeling you don’t “need” accommodations that would help you.
For example, I got accommodations for a single dorm room placement last semester because previous roommate experiences gave me anxiety. Even though I could suffer through another semester of that anxiety-producing situation, I didn’t have to. Instead, I decided to make life easier for myself. My therapist wrote why she thought I should have these accommodations. Living on campus in my own room improved my mental health dramatically!
Tip #3: No one cares if you get a B
Many students believe they need to have perfect grades in college to be successful. It’s likely that perfectionism is warping your sense of reality. Future employers will not care about your undergraduate grades; they care about your degree, work ethic, and level of experience in your field. Even if you plan to go to graduate school, most programs only require a GPA of 3.0 and are more focused on your internships, experience, and desire to learn. A’s in college are also often harder to get than A’s in high school. Don’t compare your college grades to your high school transcript.
Tip #4 Every day, do at least one thing to recharge
College can be exhausting! Make sure you incorporate self-care into your college survival guide daily routine. Depending on what type of person you are, you may need to recharge from social and academic obligations. If social events are your form of self-care, having dinner with friends may be a way to recharge. Some self-care activities that helped me feel my best last semester were going to the gym, doing face masks, and taking time out of my day to experiment with different makeup and outfit looks.
My personal college survival guide contributes to me having the best, least stressful college experience possible. I hope these tips are helpful for both current and incoming college students!