Graduation is almost here! Actually though, only 5 more weeks until I am done with my undergraduate degree at UCSB and I could not be more excited. I'm definitely the type of person that is always ready to be done with something when it's finally over. I tend not to get too sad or nostalgic. With that being said, I just wanted to impart some wisdom I feel like I've learned through trial and error over the past 4 years. Hopefully it helps a little bit!
1. Jump out of your bubble
High school for me was pretty easy. I had a good group of friends and the school work itself was doable. When I arrived at university, I didn't know anyone. I was a bit shy and stuck to watching tv in the dorms most nights for a few months before I finally got tired of that and decided to switch things up. I figured that most people had come to school in the same boat as me and also were just trying to make friends. I felt awkward inviting myself along to eat with people in the dinning commons at first but I ended up getting to know my best friends who I currently live with. Just remember that everyone starts off on the same page!
2. Study smarter, not harder
Cliché I know, but it's repeated over and over again for a reason. I went to a high school that didn't have any big exams, so by the time I got to college, I didn't understand how to study effectively for my midterms and finals. This led to a lot of long, sleepless nights where I would re-read and re-write my notes over and over again in hopes of memorizing everything. I learned over the years to pay attention to test formats, and to talk to my T.A.'s during their office hours. They can usually give you some insight as to what might be on the tests. It's also good to give yourself ample time to study, but there is a fine line between that and over-doing it on the studying. Remember to relax and take a study break every once in a while. My reccomendation? Take a walk with a friend or go buy yourself a milkshake. Milkshakes are great.
3. Join a club
Not sure where to start when it comes to meeting people? Clubs are an awesome way to find like-minded people who are usually super friendly. I tried out a bunch of different things my first year from the women's rowing team, to a beginner's ukelele group. Eventually I landed on the Excursion club which is a student-run organization that focuses on group outdoors trips. This includes everything from surfing and paddle boarding to camping and ski trips. I really liked the energy that everyone put into having fun outside and since then, I've gotten to know a number of really great people.
4. Be smart with money
Now this one is a huge topic. I could probably go on for ages about ways to be smart with money and how I learned from many mistakes what was best for my lifestyle, but I will keep it short and sweet. Best thing I've learned: stay organized. Whether you're a student or a working professional, you probably will not be on top of your finances unless you know where your money is going by staying organized. When you are organized, it is easy to see which expenses are necessary, and where you can afford to cut down your spending. There are tons of ways you can stay on top of your finances. In today's world of technology, you can link your bank alerts to your phone and get notifications when your account is too low. If you're already on top of things personally, there are a bunch of web resources that could help you out in your professional life. For instance, if you're a freelancer or a business owner, QuickBooks has a multitude of resources to help keep your finances straightened out. Their invoicing software is especially helpful with saving time and energy. Check it out! There's nothing like the feeling of being stress free when you don't have to worry about your finances.
5. Don't get caught up comparing yourself
There is a lot of transitions when you go to college. You move. You meet new people. You live on your own. It is easy to compare yourself to other people around you and feel as if you're not doing enough. With graduation coming up, my friends are all going off and doing a bunch of different things. One is set to move to San Francisco and start a full time job with an accounting firm. One deferred from grad school and is going to travel to Canada and Peru. One is starting grad school right away to become a teacher. There is beauty in seeing everyone do their own thing and if you compare yourself to others, you will never be happy. So focus on what makes you personally fullfullid and you'll be set.
6. Talk to your professors
This may be straightforward for some people, and maybe not so much for others. If you're at a bigger university, classes can be large and it might be a little bit intimidating to go to your professor's office hours and talk to them, but I promise it is worth doing. Once you find a major you like, you're going to need guidance in how to succeed within that field. Guess what? Your professors are most likely some of the more successful people within their field. They can answer questions and give advice, and if you put in some facetime with them, they can write recommendation letters for grad school or job applications. And at the very least, I've found that my professors always have interesting stories about the paths that they took to get where they are now. True story: my epigenetics professor couldn't get a job at starbucks after he graduated college. Now he's studies resource allocation in populations in the Amazon.
7. Be healthy to be happy
For many people, college is their first time living on their own. This means no more home cooking and no more parental guidance 100% of the time. It is easy to get caught up in a lifestyle of partying, late-night snacking, and netflix binges. Like almost everything else in life, this can be okay in moderation. However, if you're not careful, you can end up out of shape and feeling tired 24/7. I found that personally, living a balanced lifestyle was key for being productive. It definitely took me a few years to figure it out. After practicing some bad habits for a while, it took some hard work in switching things up, but now I can go hiking with friends or go for a jog to burn off stress. Sure there are still ice cream nights and I haven't lost my love of pizza, but life is all about moderation and balance right?
8. Be kind to yourself
More cliché sayings! Still 100% true. We can be our own harshest critics, and after a time, negative thoughts can really weigh you down. Try to keep in mind that as long as you're trying your best, you should be proud. There is no "right way" to do life. Be kind to yourself and you'll probably be a happier person. Just speaking from experience, you should be your biggest fan, because you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life. So you might as well be nice to yourself!