College life is supposed to have a detrimental effect on one’s life. This particular phase is a constant state of flux between the traditional and the new, the novice and the expert, the learner and the worker. As I culminate these three years, I realise they were nothing close to what I imagined them to be. Even after three years, I am more confused than I was at the end of school, and I didn’t even realise when it all got over. To every person who is yet to begin college this year, or to the ones who are passing out, or more importantly to the ones in the eye of the storm, I present a list of 10 most essential takeaways from the last three years, which went on to give me many valuable lessons. Learn from them, pay attention, find similarities, or dissimilarities, or simply sit back in amused relatability, do either of these, but do read them all.
It won’t be a TV Show:
College won’t be a 90210 (insert favourite college TV show/movie here). You won’t have Chemistry professors like Sushmita Sen. You will have to slog, do assignments, and study (before exams). And if your college is situated far away, the commute will be grinding. All in all, have a clean slate before you secure admission, and do not judge a college by its name/building/crowd.
Lose the ‘tude’:
So you are the captain of the zonal cricket team? Or were the Best Debater in your school? Or did you crack the XYZ Entrance exam and still chose to come to ‘this’ college? Do yourself a favour, and do not use any of these in your introduction. Without intending to, you will come across as a gloater. Understand how much sharing is too much.
1 month Rule:
In my experience, if your new friends have been the same for one month or above, chances are they will stick around for the rest of the college time, unless there is a serious fall out. So lap on every opportunity to get to know as many people as you can.
Friendships and Relationships:
Hearts will be broken, and egos bruised. Your comfortable friends from school will slowly, but continually begin to fizzle out, not to signify lack of a strong friendship but simply a reflection of the different directions you guys are headed to. So invest in both, friendships and relationships, which are comfortable and easy. It seems easy, but takes effort, as one is not in the school-setting anymore. People come in labels, categories and (often) you need to be non-judgemental. Make as many diverse friends as possible.
You will suddenly start caring about how you look. You will buy fancier (read expensive) clothes. However, a majority of people (like me) will pile on a lot of weight thanks to the unhealthy food that will be regularly consumed. So be ready to accept the change and work on it.
During the last three years, I have seen people, and myself, cribbing relentlessly during the exam time. In my case, I did nothing for 3 months straight and tried to pin all my hopes on a Christmas Miracle one night before the exams. To be fair, I realised the importance of consistency in studying way back in 9th standard, but college somehow made it easy, and okay to not study.
Utilize your time:
Unless you are caught in a course that has 80 million practicals (mostly engineering and science courses), you will suddenly find a lot of free time on your hands. This is a dangerous zone, as it can easily be mistaken for ‘chill’ time. I suggest, and what I tried to do is, to explore stuff outside the classroom. Doesn’t matter if you join a college society, take up some classes, visit an exhibition, theatre, concert, poetry session, seminar, conference or take up some part-time work, volunteer, or enrol for a fellowship, it is important to not let your college be the end of your identity.
Visit the Library:
At the risk of sounding nerdy, here’s what I wish I was told again and again. History, Philosophy, Biographies, Literature, General Knowledge, Sciences, my college Library had every damn book, but I always took it for granted, assuming I would always have time to go back to read them. To everyone who laments about the lame infrastructure of our country’s colleges, I am sure basic libraries are present in every single college, but did you bother using them? So stop complaining about things you can’t change, and make the most of what you have been given access to.
Be unapologetically yourself:
For the first few months, at the risk of sounding ignorant, I used to agree to have heard of stuff/things/people I didn’t know existed. It was a nasty habit which a lot of us have, and might seem harmless, but if it translates into something more permanent, it becomes a problem, which it did for me. So for the record, I love Pop Music, still haven’t watched GoT, and I don’t know who the hell is Ankit Tiwari. It is OKAY to not know what the other person is talking about. However, do not use this as an excuse to have poor GK. Have first-hand- read-fact-based opinions, not opinion-based-opinions.
Do not overdo whatever you do:
College life is a mix of a lot of things- Academics, Interests, Internships, Friends, Food, TV, and Sleeping. You have got to find a way to balance all of this. Do not over do one, take the academics too seriously, or take the ‘Chilling’ too much. I did overdo the Food and Sleeping though (a lot), hence the weight gain in point 5.
Before you know it, college will just be another 3 (or 4) years of your life, which whizzed right past you. This article almost summed up what I learnt. Share back (by commenting below) if you had similar experiences, or something vastly different!